Thursday night, I enjoyed my very first chat with the amazing Tammie Schrader @tammieschrader, who first led an Edtech Interactive on planning a regional game jam, followed by an entire hour where we got to chat about it on Twitter.

Let me tell you–the amount of planning Schrader puts into her game jams: Remarkable! If you’re planning ANY type of an out-of-classroom game jam in the future, you definitely want to review this webinar first

So many ideas were tossed around during the #games4ed chat that followed that there’s no way I could read them all the first time through the chat–a second time of reading the chat archives (found here!) was needed for me to get through everything!

Schrader shared so many essential things that need to be covered when planning and hosting a regional game jam that I can’t list them all here. However, I do have my favorite takeaways:

  1. Location, Location, Location! Schrader spent a lot of time scouting potential venues for her game jam. In fact, there are so many potential places: schools, of course, but also libraries, community centers, and college unions. The time span of the game jam heavily impacts your venue choice. Schrader hosted an all night jam (what an exciting jam idea!), but hosting it at a school forces you to follow even more administrative rules for that location. Another alternative you might want to look into is a private tech business that wouldn’t just be supportive of your mission, but also have the tech infrastructure you need if you’re planning a digital chat.

That said, maybe you decide on your school. Nothing wrong with it. If you do, though, host it in the media center or commons area. Rearrange the furniture. Make it seem as “unschoollike” as possible

2. Donations!  Schrader first started with a grant that helped fund the game jam, but other businesses also donated prizes and, most importantly for teenagers: FOOD.  Actually, just important for any game jam.

3. Staffing. If you’re hosting a digital game jam, find some computer science mentors to come in and help advise groups. Schrader used local college students. But the staffing doesn’t end there. Adult volunteers will still be needed to help with supervision and keeping food stocked.

4. Theme. Perhaps my favorite idea was using a them for a game jam. Asking students to create a game jam that deals with a community problem, or the Hero’s Journey, or any other idea provides a starting line for the groups.

Join us for #games4ed on Twitter any Thursday night at 8pmET/7pmCT