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General News General News >> Article

Indie Game Jam commencing in Oakland, California
by Jolex Del Pilar

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Developers will make games at frantic rate.

Twenty game developers from around the country have gathered in Oakland, California for a weekend of intense creativity. These professionals, who normally work on teams of up to 200 people and take years to produce a single title, will make literally dozens of games in just four days.

The event is the Indie Game Jam, and it was started three years ago by a group of developers who saw a need for more experimentation and innovation in commercial games. Each year at the Jam, developers are given a new custom game engine with a single technology focus (created for free by one of the participants) and use it to make as many innovative games as possible over the course of four days. They often work through the night to bring their ideas to fruition.

"As mainstream games get bigger and more expensive to develop, it's harder and harder to make wacky experimental games," says Chris Hecker, one of the founders. "We started the Indie Game Jam to give developers an opportunity to experiment with interesting and new game designs free from commercial constraints.” The organizers also want others to follow suit. “Hopefully we'll inspire other developers to try their own Game Jams, and maybe we'll even push the boundaries of the art form and motivate the industry to take more risks," says Sean Barrett, another founder.

The participants include developers from such companies as Ion Storm, Maxis, Oddworld Inhabitants, and Gamelab, as well as several independent game developers. “The way the industry is structured these days can make it hard to stay inspired,” says Atman Binstock, an attendee and the supplier of the engine this year’s Jammers will use. “Participating in last year’s Indie Game Jam made me love making games again, and I think more events like this could really help rejuvenate the industry.”

The completed games are shown at the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California (Thursday, March 25 from 3:30 to 6:00 pm) and online at The code is released on SourceForge under the GNU General Public License, so other developers can freely experiment with the engine source code and games. For information on attending the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at the GDC, please visit

The Indie Game Jam is sponsored by Intel, Rad Game Tools, the Independent Games Festival, and Oddworld Inhabitants. "Intel is actively involved with game developers and publishers worldwide in enabling their applications for Intel's next generation products and technologies, across all platforms, from handheld to desktop to servers." says Kim Pallister, Technical Software Strategist with Intel's Software Solutions Group, "It is also important that we keep an eye to the future as well, and explore ways in which gameplay can be expanded beyond the established usages and genres. This is the essential role events like the Indie Game Jam play, and why we are excited to be supporting the event."

--- Jolex Del Pilar 

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