72 hour game development competition?

I used to be part of a small community of folks that ran the 72 hour game development competition back in the mid-to-late 2000's. As I've been playing with the Playdate SDK recently, I've been pondering whether a small, community-organized competition like that might be fun to organize specifically for the Playdate.

To get a sense of how this might work, I've extracted the original competition rules circa: 2005 and updated them for the Playdate.


The 72 Hour Playdate Game Development competition is an event to inspire rapid game development with an emphasis on design and fun. The general premise is this: At the start of the 72 hour period, a pre-determined theme is revealed. Teams collaborate to make the best game they can following that theme with only 72 hours to release something.


The major goal of the contest is to have fun. Many contestants will not finish their product within the allotted time, but they are still encouraged to show off their work.


  • Teams will be no larger than 3 people.

  • Participants are responsible for finding their own team-mates.

  • All assets (source code, art, sound, data, etc) must be made within the 72 hour time limit. No pre-existing code, stock art, or stock sound may be used. There are few exceptions, which are all mentioned in this document.

  • DAWs are permitted. The custom sounds they come with are allowed. Using tutorial tracks or premade songs from these programs is not allowed.

  • Pre-written game engines/frameworks other than the Playdate LUA SDK are NOT allowed. This includes libraries beyond the realm of sound, graphics, and input. For instance, libraries that handle gameplay or physics are not allowed.

    • Note that because of the fairly significant difference in feature set between the C SDK and the Lua SDK, it might make sense for the competition to segment entries based on whether they're written in pure C or using the Lua SDK.
  • Code snippets obtained from large sources such as the Microsoft MSDN libraries or the DirectX SDK is allowed. Also, small code snippets within your own personal library are permitted, so long as they only encapsulate basic functionality such as texture loading or window creation. Use appropriate judgement for this. Something which loads an image is fine, but something that manages all the sprites on the screen is not.

  • Everything must be submitted by the time the 72 hour deadline closes. NO EXCEPTIONS. Games may be submitted before the deadline, and they may be resubmitted at any time during the contest. However, once the deadline is over, the contest is over. Everything required to play the game must be included. Please don't make the installation inordinantly difficult.

  • Source code is not required to be sent.

  • There is to be no copyright infringement of any sort.

  • Games MUST be distributed in a .zip or .rar file. No installers.

Rationale Behind the Rules:

The rules are not intended to stifle creativity. They are intended to level the playing field.

  • Most of the source code rules are there so that everyone starts off with the same opportunities. It's not fair that one group may start with a pre-made fully 3D engine while another group starts out with nothing. However, it's also unrealistic to expect everyone to retype grunt code from common examples.

The Competition Timeline:

There are 5 main stages to each competition:

  1. Theme suggestion

    • Themes are thrown in to a general pool of themes as people suggest them.
    • 20 themes are chosen from this pool to move on to Tier 1 voting
  2. Tier 1 voting

    • This stage marks the beginning of the competition's theme-selection.
    • Each user gets one vote for a theme and must vote via the link in the top of the forums.
    • The top 5 themes from Tier 1 voting move on to Tier 2 voting.
  3. Tier 2 voting

    • Voting now commences on the 5 highest-rated themes.
    • The best theme voted on will be chosen as the competition's theme and is decided the second the competition starts.
  4. The Competition

    • Your team now has 72 hours to create the game based upon the theme selected from Tier 2 voting.
    • Make sure to test the submission process at some point before the end of the competition (give yourself plenty of time to upload your entry) or you may not make the deadline.
    • Note that there are no exceptions to this rule so you must make sure your entry is uploaded before the competition's timer runs out.
  5. Judging

    • This stage allows every user to give a rating to every entry. You are also allowed to leave a short critique which the team (and only that team) will be able to read at the end of the judging process.
  6. Finally

    • The winners are chosen amongst each area and the overall winner will be announced in the main forums and on the main page.

If this sounds interesting to you, let's chat here!


Definitely interesting, but after the recent PlayJam (PlayJam - itch.io) I vowed never to do another jam shorter than a week. Well-being (mental, physical, family etc.) takes priority.

Oooh there was already something like this then! Cool! I hadn't seen Game jams - itch.io before :smiley:

I vowed never to do another jam shorter than a week

Totally fair! Carving out x number of consecutive hours can be really tricky.

Time is my enemy also.

Jam sounds fun but I can't remember the last time I had anywhere close to 72 hours to myself. Maybe about 7 years ago before we had kids.