First off, I’ve never been in one, but this is what I think about them. Game jams are when a group of people come together to make a game in a very short amount of time like 48 hours.
Working in a team and learning from others
If you’re used to working alone, this would be quite a new experience. If you’re used to working in a team then working with others you’ve never worked before would still be very cool. Other developers will likely know things you don’t and knowledge sharing is very valuable. Making new friends with others who are passionate as you about the same things would be great.
Doing dodgy but faster code
Everything is about speed. For the most part, I’m usually fairly anal and writing good code that’s expandable/reusable etc but that’s not really an option in a game jam. It’s got positives and negatives but personally I reckon it’s great because you focus on making the game and because it’s different to what I’m used to doing.
Finding your strengths by dividing up the workload
To work most efficiently (because you have to in order to make the deadline) the ideal way to work is to assign roles to each member of the team eg. graphics/music/programming etc This is a good time to discover what you really excel at. Whatever role you get, you’ll be focusing on it and getting better at it.
Meeting deadlines and shipping out the game
You’ll likely have to forgo some features to meet the deadline, and that’s ok. Successfully producing a game from a game jam shows you can meet deadlines. Also the feeling of satisfaction from completing a game is always nice.
Only the beginning
Most games can take months or years to make. By making a game in a very short time, you can get feedback and if it’s good, you can expand on it and turn it into a full-featured game if you want.
Again, I’ve never participated in a game jam. This is all just what I’d imagine them to be. The closest thing would be making Error Hunter since the time frame of about a month is pretty tight for someone with a full time job. I also participated in a 24 hour comic years ago and that was quite fun. I’m not sure when I’ll be participating in a game jam but I imagine it would a great and exciting experience.