GMTK (Game Maker’s Toolkit) is a YouTube channel hosted by a chap called Mark Brown. The channel describes itself as “a deep dive into game design, level design, and game production” and has some of the most interesting gaming content on YouTube.
Every year, GMTK hosts a game jam – a 48 hour event where solo developers and small independent teams from around the world get together (virtually) to make a game based on a theme. I’ve written about game jams in a bit more detail in the long list of things to try if you are finding games boring. This year’s theme was ‘Roll of the dice’, a typically broad starting point that could allow developers to head off in a number of innovative directions.
I didn’t compete this year – I’ve only done it once back in 2020 (here’s my game if you’re interested). But just watching through Mark’s annual showcase video was more than enough to remind me why I should be paying more attention.
I’m not going to spoil the surprise and would recommend you don’t watch the video just yet. Instead, you should head over to the itch.io page and check these games out for yourself. If you do so, you’ll find over 6,000 free games, many of which can be played in browser, to choose from – with a week’s long period of public ratings to help you find the cream of the crop. If you need to fill just 10 or 15 minutes (or several hours) it’s well worth exploring.
Ultimately, I love game jams (and GMTK in particular as it’s so well thought out and attended) because it forces innovation. Developers have 48 hours to brainstorm the theme, pick an idea, design the game, programme it, test it, tweak and refine before releasing it. That is nowhere near enough time to create a game (AAA games take thousands of people multiple years) so it forces developers to prioritise. Specifically, it prioritises good thinking – innovative design and fun or unique gameplay over graphics and sound (although some of these games still look awesome). And to stand out in a crowd of 6,000 games you need to do something different – you won’t get anywhere making something that has been done before.
Best of all; these games don’t overstay their welcome. They are all short (48 hours in development remember…) and so even in the space of an hour or two you can immerse yourself in more original thinking then you’d get elsewhere.
So you really have very little excuse to go and visit. Again, the page for the GMTK Game Jam 2022 is here. A big thank you to everyone who spent their time building something that I’ve gone on to enjoy.