Come On and Slam: The Arbitrary Game Jam Approaches


The indie games industry has gotten itself into a jam, and that’s a good thing.

The Arbitrary Games (TAG) Jam is a monthly round of friendly competition, with the idea of bringing some extra promotion to indie games and developers. These games must adhere to at least one of the three themes provided by the game host, “madmarcel”, a software developer from Hamilton, New Zealand. These themes will be announced on the TAGJam website twelve hours before the event launches on January 16th. Even he doesn’t yet know what these themes will be – they’re being chosen by a random word generator.

The slam will run for two days, and after the conclusion, participants will have another twelve hours to submit their games for consideration. All the games must be original works, of course, but even if the game is not fully completed, developers are welcome to submit them.

To get in on the jam, developers are advised to make an account with GameJolt; this is not absolutely required, but it does make the submission process somewhat easier. Craft your game once the themes are announced, and tag the description with #tagjam18 – this is done automatically for those with GameJolt accounts – before submitting. If you elect not to make a GameJolt account, you can still participate by submitting your game to Marcel via Twitter with the same hashtag.

jamlogoIn addition to the three main themes, one of which must appear in your game, the host will also be providing a few bonus themes which are optional for inclusion. Solo projects and team projects are both welcome, and the game is not required to be family-friendly; as Marcel puts it in the FAQ, “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll are fine.” The games may be made for PC, iOS devices, Android devices, Linux, or Mac.

In largest part, this is a just-for-fun competition. The winner, as selected by Marcel, will then have the honor of selecting the themes (Editor’s Note: The winner is responsible for hosting the next Jam, in addition to selecting the themes.) for the February TAGJam. If you’d rather not take on that responsibility, you’re still welcome to participate; just make sure to indicate in the game description that it’s a non-competitive entry. Plus, everyone who participates gets a really awesome prize – a complimentary full year’s subscription to the greatest magazine on the web, which is of course Indie Game Magazine.

Check out the TAGJam website for the complete rules, complementary wallpapers to advertise the event, and a snazzy countdown clock. Keep track of everyone’s excitement on Twitter with the #tagjam18 hashtag, too, and become acquainted with fellow indie game enthusiasts; you can also discuss the event in the IGM forums. Good luck – and have fun!


Laura, to borrow a phrase from Metal Gear Solid 3, has one good eye and can still fire a gun. She refers to herself as a "video dame," and has been an avid gamer on various platforms since she first picked up a Pong controller over 30 years ago. She takes great delight in explaining different games to her husband.

  • Jupiter_Hadley

    Really nice article, however, the winner gets to do much more than just pick some randomly generated themes; they get to host. This involves hosting the jam, finding publicity, building hype, and even making logos or other small graphics to make the jam look good! When bunnyhero and I ran it, we followed a funny theme we picked. Marcel has added the idea of having cool wallpapers to the jam. The host is to make the jam its own.