Camps & Jams

Youth who come to Rad Magpie camps and jams will have a unique opportunity to jump in and make video games, guided by counselors skilled in their disciplines -- who can teach them everything they need to know about game development as they go! Jammers create their own teams, choose their roles, and work together to make a radical game of their own conception.

 
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A “game jam” is a game development event in which participants gather to combine their skills and create games in a short period of time.

Our intent is not to teach a static curriculum of game development but to provide access to development tools, theory and knowledge. Our studio facilitators -- themselves young, diverse developers working in the industry -- will use a “sandbox” approach to creation: Youth will be encouraged to experiment, prototype, and develop skills in the areas that interest them. It’s important for youth to have a space where they can create the things they want to create, express their unique visions, and find power in their own voices.

Diversity First

Our jams and jam camps are for youth 14-18 years of age who are from diverse demographics, primarily young women, LGBTQ+ and youth of color.

Rad jammers come from demographics that might not otherwise have access or encouragement to pursue game development. Our hope is to create access not just to our program but beyond it, to encourage youth to participate in game academies and college programs, on to successful careers.

Most of us working at Rad Magpie have experienced being the only person like us on a team. By creating a deliberately diverse opportunity, we are expanding the diverse network and creating a wider, skilled community. It’s good to see people like us, making games for people like us.

Why Jam?

Okay, look. Making video games is fun. Really, really fun. Who doesn’t want to make video games?

But there’s more than fun to our jams. Rad jammers learn complex technical skills, computer art and animation, programming, project management and design as well as system creation.

Making video games isn’t just about coding. Games need art, design, systems, story, organization AND code! Every kid who attends our jams and camps has an opportunity to try:

  • Art - How to concept and work with a team to come up with great visual ideas, then how to put those ideas into a game as art, environments and animations.

  • Design - What does the level look like? What puzzles does the player need to solve? Is this game more about role play, or more about movement and hand-eye coordination? Designers work with their team to make a game that makes sense and is fun to play.

  • Systems - Systems are the background framework of numbers and proportions that make up most games. It’s how many coins you can get in a platform level, or how much you need to do for your character to gain a level. It’s which actions you need to perform for a character in the game to like your character! Systems designers balance games to feel challenging, fun and fair.

  • Narrative - This is the story of your game. Sometimes you tell it with words, or dialogue. Sometimes it’s the story of your player’s character as they move through the world. Narrative designers use a lot of different ways to tell a story in-game.

  • Production - Somebody has to keep this ship afloat! Every game needs project management to make sure deadlines are met and everything you want in the game gets in on time. Producers manage tasks, facilitate communication and keep a team running smoothly.

  • Programming - All the code under the hood of a game, but also the tools we use as shortcuts, or the tools we make to shortcut!

  • And more!  - There are opportunities for jammers to learn basics of things like audio, music, interface design and more as they have interest and our counselors have knowledge to share!


Jammers learn collaboration, team communication skills, and how failure is an integral part of any process. Resilience, responding to feedback, and learning to revise and iterate are all part of a day’s work in game development. Participation in game jams is also outstanding preparation for college, or for Champlain’s prestigious summer Game Academy. Jamming will help a student create a portfolio for college applications to game programs and give prior experience those programs are actively looking for. Even if they aren’t interested in a career as a game developer, skills gleaned from our jams will prepare them for any number of future endeavors in tech and design.