About the Jam

Our story

In 2013 a few Auckland game developers decided that, although there are plenty of online gamejams throughout the year, the only regular in-person event was the Global Game Jam and it was smack bang in the middle of go-to-the-beach season. So we ran Kiwijam13 at AUT University for about 50 Auckland game developers.

Kiwijam has run every year since with centres from all over Aotearoa joining the whanau.

To get an idea of our journey check out:

Our history in twitter posts: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 

Submitted games from previous years: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

Some of the highlights from the Auckland site: 2019, 2016, 2015

Our energy

Who should come to Kiwijam

Kiwijam is meant for anyone with an interest in making games. Even if you’ve never made a game before or don’t have any game dev skills. You could join a group and find out you’re good at something and never knew it. Or maybe you just want to observe this year and come back next year after doing a few game dev tutorials.

We hope that Kiwijam is a way for new gamedevs or people who are interested in starting their gamedev journey to get inspired and feel like they are a part of a bigger community. For this reason Kiwijam will always be free.

Kiwijam is an R18 event unless a site makes arrangements to allow under 18 participants as stated in their registration. 

What do I get out of Kiwijam?

Kiwijam is less about what you make and more about how the experience changes you. For that reason it is freer and looser than many of the other gamejams out there.

Each site adds their own herbs and spices but generally speaking, what you decide to make at Kiwijam is up to you. Sometimes we have hardcore jammers creating absolutely everything from scratch. Sometimes people use existing kitset tools to explore an idea. At some sites it’s common to bring along what you’ve been working on to feed off the energy in the room and be inspired by the ideas and new perspectives of the other attendees.

We encourage the creation of any type of playful thing. Sure, most of the games worked on during Kiwijam are digital in some way, but we also have board games, street games, mega games, interactive performances, rapid prototyped interfaces, games without endings or win conditions, “not-games”, “walking simulators”… If it’s something you’re supposed to play, we probably want to see it… and also play it.

We hope that you walk away from Kiwijam having learned a new skill, improved your practice, met some people, got some great ideas, been inspired or had a great time.

If you managed to make a playable game too – well that’s just swell.

If you have any doubt about what you should and should not make at Kiwijam, join our discord or ask your site organizers.

For inspiration check out some of the like-minded events run around the world from the more obvious Global Game Jam – to the online-only Ludum Dare – themed jams like Asylum Jam – and alternative jams like alt.ctl.jam and Eniarof.

How it works

There are four sites for Kiwijam21: Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch. Each site will differ slightly in it’s rules and guidelines sent out to it’s registered participants, but the following things are common to every site over Aotearoa.

A place to jam

Your site will offer a space to jam. Sites may offer different functions but, apart from the usual venue facilities (toilets, light, exits, etc…) at the very least they will also provide tables, seats, power and wifi. The rooms will also vibrate with the ambient hum of excitement, the focus of hard mahi, the cries of failure, the cheers of success and, eventually, the roar of applause, the din of gameplay and the sighs of relief.

Your site will provide drinkable water and a safe dry place to eat your packed or purchased food and snacks.

Some sites may also offer specialized spaces, equipment, computers and resources such as laser cutters, meeting areas, whiteboard, breakout rooms or repurposable play spaces.

Some sites may run a shared or catered lunch as part of their schedule, but often food is up to you to either bring with you or purchase nearby.

The date, time and duration

Your site will open on Friday evening to commence the event. Sometimes doors will open sooner or later than others but every site will run though it’s admin and housekeeping so that they are ready for the theme reveal at around 6PM… ish.

Your site will run the jam for roughly 48hours. Sometimes the hosts will shorten the actual working part of the jam so that everyone has a chance to play some games and socialize at the end without having to stay up late on a school night.

Some sites may also hold scheduled events such as guest speakers, playtest sessions, awards or maybe they will invite mentors to visit and provide advice.

On site support

Your site will have one or more people to provide support and keep the event moving. They will help people who are having trouble forming teams, field your questions and react to anything technical or social that might arise during the event.

The theme

Your site will announce the theme on the first night. Themes are shared by all of the sites. However, even though we all share the same theme, it’s meant as a way to ‘flavour’ the jam as opposed to a restriction that you have to adhere to no matter what.

Previous themes include: “Piano of the Dead”, “He/She/They walk amongst us”, “Into the Night”, “Single use”, “Chain reaction”, “On the brink”, “Connected Worlds” and an intentionally ugly image of an ice cream on a flag with the word “sacrifice” written in highlighter green Comic Sans.

Collective Code of Conduct

Your site will expect you to follow the Kiwijam Code of Conduct which aligns with that of the NZ Game Developer AssociationSome sites may also have further rules that apply and will be announced on the first night. Examples include things like the opening hours of the venue or noise restrictions.

Somewhere to submit our games

You will submit your game to itch.io/jam/kiwijam21 so we – and everyone else – can see all the greatness, and the blunders, that come out of Kiwijam.


More details from each site about the format of the event you are attending will be sent out later once you have registered.