Jam Today, Jam Tomorrow: Learning in Online Game Jams


Game jams, which are game creation events in which developers design and build a game over a short period of time, have been shown to support participatory, active STEM learning. Game jams have expanded from their origins as physically co-located experiences and many are now conducted exclusively online. Though the co-located game jam has been noted as educational, little is known about how learning happens within online game jams. To better understand the ways online game jams support self-development, we interviewed fifteen online jam participants about their learning experiences during their jams. Additionally, we observed and analyzed several jams using activity theory. We found that online game jams support participants’ learning through extensive feedback from others during and after the jam. Such feedback sessions were a key social and participatory learning elements for online jams, providing much-need social support. In contrast to the group-focused development in offline jams many participants in our study chose to develop games alone. Many individuals participated in online game jams regularly, treating them as a broader experience than singular events. We use these findings to discuss how we might better design for self-directed learning online and offer suggestions on how to better attune online game jams to the needs of participants.

GROUP ‘20: Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction