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1. Time planning
Doing a bunch of game jams improves your ability of time planning. You start better estimating the time it will take for any particular task. This skill is also very important to understand if certain features are worth it and if you should even implement them or not.
Participating in game jams will improve the speed at which you do things. For example as a programmer, you will see some shortcut to making the same thing not so pretty in the code but functionally the same which is important for a game jam. and as a team you will learn to decide on what option to choose, what game to make a lot faster.
Making prototypes, you will also find a lot of tools and tricks that you can use on later prototypes or full games because you already tried them and know what they are best suited for.
Game jams are super fun! Based on this infographic by McFunkyPapnts http://www.mcfunkypants.com/2011/game-jam-survey/ over 95% of participants had fun and would participate in another one. I've participated in over 15 game jams and I can say that it really is an amazing experience both in teams and solo.
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4. Improve prototyping skills
Game jams really embrace the idea that you need to make the game playable first. Without the art, sounds, etc. In a lot of cases after this you will get the idea if the mechanics make sense or if it even has potential. As well as you will notice some things that you didn't think about but that are very important. And you need to address them next.
After making it playable, you will know to work on things that you wouldn't release your game without.
5. Lowers fear for experimentation
You will be more willing to try things out and see if the will work or not. But it obviously depends on the amount of time it will take to implement the feature and try it out. So the good estimation of time will surely help. You never know if this small feature will have an awesome effect on your game. So you need to try.
When I say experimentation I don't only include new features for the game but also code libraries or, for example, some assets from Unity Asset Store that will make your life a lot easier.
6. Make game jam prototype into full game
After game jam ends you can take this prototype and continue working on it and release as a full game at a later date. Doing it this way is awesome because you already have ratings and comments - what people think about the game. People use Kickstarter or Steam Greenlight to understand if people like the idea and this requires weeks of work to prepare. When you can have a rough idea just after two days.
A lot of cool games came out of game jams. Just some examples:
- Surgent Simulator
- Titan Souls
7. Improves overall game development skills
From the later blog posts about game jams, you will find that a lot of things that you learn about making a game better will also improve other full games that you will be working on.
You can try a lot of different genres that you maybe wouldn't make otherwise. Which will show you why certain genres are easier or harder to develop. An amount of art, code, premade levels would be required for a full game.
8. Connecting with people / networking
Game jams are awesome for meeting new people if you are going to a local game jam. As well as strengthening your current relationships if you are participating in a jam as a team. You can also give your prototype to other people before uploading it to see the problems and strengths of your game.
9. Cutting features
Doing a bunch of game jams also helps you better understand when you need to put a particular idea aside because it will take a lot of time and it is not worth it. Doing this a bunch of times it will become easier, still tough none the less.
Now go and participate. If you're looking for which game jam to choose - you can find a list of some well-known game jams here.
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