Ludum Dare (LD) (from Latin "to give a game", formerly Ludum Dare 48 (LD48), also referenced as LDJAM) is an accelerated video game development competition. It was founded by Geoff Howland and was first held in April 2002. Participants are required to create a video game that fits within a given theme in two days. A unique feature of this competition is that participants often release a time-lapse video of the development of their game.
Ludum Dare was originally only an Internet forum. The first competition—often referred to as "Ludum Dare Zero"—was held in April 2002, with 18 participants. Its popularity turned the focus towards the competitions rather than the forum. The time limit was subsequently increased to 48 hours, because 24 hours were decided to be too few. Since 2011 the competition has seen significant annual increases in numbers of game submissions, partly owing to the public awareness of Minecraft designer Markus Persson, who has participated seven times.
Until 2014, the event was very informal as the Ludum Dare team worked on it in their spare time. Due to the increasing number of contestants, long-time organizer Mike Kasprzak announced in September 2014 that he would attempt at setting up a business model allowing him to work full-time on the project. Charging for Ludum Dare is however "out of question", and money is currently exclusively raised through donations.
During Ludum Dare 35 in April 2016, there was a massive influx of complaints regarding the game jam's rating system. Evidence had been presented showing that some users had attempted to artifically boost their game ratings with alt accounts. As a consequence of this problem, future Ludum Dare events were indefinitely cancelled pending a replacement website being constructed for hosting the game jam.  This led to a community backlash, and the game jam in August 2016 went ahead regardless, organized by website administrator and long-time community member sorceress. In respect of the complains previously raised, the community decided by referendum to forego the game rating phase after the game jam. So uniquely, there were no winners for that one event. 
Currently, Ludum Dare is held three times a year. In the week preceding each competition suggested themes are subject to votes by prospective participants. A theme is subsequently announced before participants are given 48 hours to create a video game (although board games or similar are accepted) that fits within it. All game code and content must be created during the competition and by a single person, and source code is encouraged to be included. During the event many participants record multiple screenshots of the development of their game to later produce a time-lapse video. In addition, many broadcast a live video stream, particularly since April 2013, when a widget showing Ludum Dare video streams hosted on Twitch was added to the Ludum Dare website. After the end of the competition participants are given three weeks to play and rate other submitted games to determine the winners. There are no physical or cash prizes, but each participant retains full ownership of their game—some have achieved financial success after developing their initial submission.
As of the 18th edition of the competition, which was held in August 2010, a more relaxed version called the "Jam" was introduced. The Jam, which allows development teams, private source code and an extended development time of 72 hours, takes place concurrently with the solo competition.
A smaller competition called "Mini Ludum Dare" is held during months without a Ludum Dare. These are each hosted by a veteran participant who is free to decide the theme within which the games must fit. The rules are generally the same as in Ludum Dare, but the 48-hour limitation is usually ignored in favor of late participation.
Every October Ludum Dare hosts the October Challenge, which challenges people to "Finish a game, take it to market, and earn $1". Participants have 31 days to upload a link to their game to the website. The event is not competitive and is just a small event to encourage game development from people who do not make money from their games regularly.
|No.||Month||Theme (bonus)||Participants||Compo winner||Jam winner||Ref.|
|0†||April 2002||Indirect interaction||18||Endurion||Magnetic Fields|
|1||July 2002||Guardian||136||46||Hamumu||Scarecrow: Heart of Straw|
|2||November 2002||Construction/destruction (sheep)||116||49||ShredWheat||Sheep Town|
|3||April 2003||Preparation – Set it up, let it go||84|
|5||October 2004||Random||93||Jolle||Random Dungeon Exploration|
|6||April 2005||Light and darkness||143||52||Jolle||Uplighter|
|7||December 2005||Growth||27||Jolle||The People|
|9||April 2007||Build the level you play||DrPetter||Spatzap aka N/A|
|10||December 2007||Chain reaction||158||51||Hamumu||Short Fuse|
|11||April 2008||Minimalist||71||mrfun/SethR||Strong AI|
|12||August 2008||The tower||57||Hamumu||Rise Of The Owls|
|13||December 2008||Roads||59||increpare||Rara Racer|
|14||April 2009||Advancing wall of doom||123||mrfun/SethR||Mind Wall|
|16||December 2009||Exploration||121||chuchino||Cat Planet|
|18||August 2010||Enemies as weapons||172||invicticide||Fail-Deadly|
|19||December 2010||Discovery||242||deepnight (Sébastien Bénard)||Time Pygmy|
|20||April 2011||It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!||288||deepnight (Sébastien Bénard)||Appy 1000mg|
|21||August 2011||Escape||599||Chevy Ray Johnston||Flee Buster||Ian Brock
|22||December 2011||Alone (kitten challenge)||891||Pedro Medeiros||Frostbite||Harry Lee
|23||April 2012||Tiny world||1402||Tyler Glaiel||Fracuum||TurboDindon||Inside My Radio|||
|24||August 2012||Evolution||1406||Nicolas Cannasse||Evoland||X-0ut||LD24 X0ut|||
|25||December 2012||You are the villain (goat)||1327||deepnight (Sébastien Bénard)||Atomic Creep Spawner||Free Lives Games||Ore Chasm|||
|26||April 2013||Minimalism (potato)||2346||TimTipGames||MONO||Mark Foster
|Leaf Me Alone|||
|27||August 2013||10 seconds||2213||Andrew Shouldice||Probe Team||Graeme Borland||NXTWPN10|||
|28||December 2013||You only get one||2064||Daniël Haazen||One Take||Mark Foster
|29||April 2014||Beneath the surface||2497||Daniel Linssen||The Sun and Moon||Shannon Mason
Diane de Wilde
|30||August 2014||Connected Worlds||2538||PixelMind||SuperDimensional||Kevin Zuhn
|31||December 2014||Entire Game on One Screen||2637||Daniel Linssen||birdsong||Simon Larsen
|90 Second Portraits|||
|32||April 2015||An Unconventional Weapon||2821||01010111||ＢＥＤ✰ＨＯＧＧ||Bogdan Rybak
|The Rock the Paper and the Scissors|||
|33||August 2015||You are the Monster||2725||DragonXVI||Writhe: The Thing from the Omega Sector||Pietro Ferrantelli
|34||December 2015||Growing/two button controls||2870||vegapomme27||Frank & Stein||Big Green Pillow ft Mgaia||Slash Quest|||
|35||April 2016||Shapeshift||2718||Daniel Linssen||windowframe||Barney Cumming
Paul Dal Pozzo
|The Maitre D|||
|36||August 2016||Ancient Tech||1912||no winners|
- † — Competitions were held for only 24 hours.
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