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Video Game Development in a Rush: A Survey of the Global Game Jam Participants

by   Markus Borg, et al.

Video game development is a complex endeavor, often involving complex software, large organizations, and aggressive release deadlines. Several studies have reported that periods of "crunch time" are prevalent in the video game industry, but there are few studies on the effects of time pressure. We conducted a survey with participants of the Global Game Jam (GGJ), a 48-hour hackathon. Based on 198 responses, the results suggest that: (1) iterative brainstorming is the most popular method for conceptualizing initial requirements; (2) continuous integration, minimum viable product, scope management, version control, and stand-up meetings are frequently applied development practices; (3) regular communication, internal playtesting, and dynamic and proactive planning are the most common quality assurance activities; and (4) familiarity with agile development has a weak correlation with perception of success in GGJ. We conclude that GGJ teams rely on ad hoc approaches to development and face-to-face communication, and recommend some complementary practices with limited overhead. Furthermore, as our findings are similar to recommendations for software startups, we posit that game jams and the startup scene share contextual similarities. Finally, we discuss the drawbacks of systemic "crunch time" and argue that game jam organizers are in a good position to problematize the phenomenon.


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