I want to talk about conferences. Game conferences, specifically. There is a group in Vancouver called Full Indie who is organizing the second year of their Full Indie Summit.
I am one of those organizers and want to explain what the Summit is about and also talk about conferences in general, what they are good for and how to get the best out of them.
What is the Summit?
The Full Indie Summit is a conference on game development with a focus on the independent developer. The Summit features presentations and panels on all matters of interest to game developers, with the goal to inform, educate, inspire and motivate.
We want to create an annual event that will allow developers to get together and create bonds that will help them grow and make the at-large community stronger.
2013 was the first year of the Summit. It was a single day event held at the Rio Theater. We had a full house of 400 people, over 12 presentations and a couple of mixers. All in all it was a success and we are trying to make it better for this year.
What about the 2014 Summit?
I’m glad you ask because we are doing something a little bit different this time around. First, the event will last 2 days: Saturday and Sunday, August 9th and 10th. That means more presentations, more networking. We also have a new venue: the Stanley Theater on Granville street.
Maybe the biggest difference is that the event is now open to all ages (there were some limitations in 2013).
Last year we were lucky to have the likes of Sony and Nintendo to do talks, but we are getting first class presenters this time around as well. There will be more topics covered and the speakers will come from all around. We haven’t announced anything yet, but it will be a great occasion to hear people that don’t often come to Vancouver.
We are also planning mixers and networking events. We really want make it as accessible as possible so the tickets are really affordable: $25 for early birds.
Also, there will be all kinds of cool things going on during the weekend. Last year we had an unexpected Towerfall demo during lunch time, who know what we’ll get this time around… So, better come and check: http://www.fullindiesummit.com/register.
What are conferences good for anyway?
You get to meet people. You get to talk about games. You make contacts. You learn new things. You are exposed to new ideas. You’ll meet new friends. Reconnect with old ones. You can show the game you’ve been working on. And get good feedback. It is also a great excuse to not feed the cat for a couple of days.
Yeah, all of the above means you’ll need to interact with people. That’s the point of conferences: get a bunch of people together to chat about what they are passionate enough to spend time and money to get there in the first place.
But to me, conferences are all about creating opportunities. If I don’t put myself out there, nothing is ever going to come my way. On the other hand making contacts, showing a game, going to a mixer, all can lead to future opportunities.
There has been some controversy on the role of luck in people’s success lately (see http://www.andymoore.ca/2013/06/thoughts-on-luck/ for example). However, what all those people did was to put themselves in a situation where they could be “lucky”. That’s what I call creating opportunities. And that is what conferences are good for.
Making the most out of conferences
Kevin Rageney of Power Up Audio actually had a talk about this at a previous Full Indie meetup and you can watch it online at http://bit.ly/QmFxEs.
- Broadly speaking, you should come in with a goal. It doesn’t have to be something completely business-oriented. It can be to meet cool people, that’s fine. The idea is to something to strive for.
- Bring business cards: you’ll meet people you will like to exchange contact info with and there’s no better way.
- Follow-up on the business cards you receive: you liked talking with a guy? Send him an email. Someone liked your demo? Follow-up with them.
- As Kevin says: talk to everyone. It is worth repeating since it is difficult, particularly on the last day of long conferences. But it is the single one thing that can make a conference worthwhile. Some development studios got started because two guys sat at the same table at an event and started chatting. The guy in line in front of you at Starbucks might be a recruiter for the company you want to work for.
- Don’t forget the Corridor Track. Many conference have Audio tracks, Animation tracks, Free-to-Play, QA, etc. But sometimes the best conversations happen in the corridor. Don’t worry about skipping some talks, often you can watch them online.
Those are all very basic things; just try to find a way to make them work for you. The universe is a very big place and we must all find our unique way to navigate it. Just don’t forget the business cards, who knows who you will meet.
Who is Alain-Daniel
Alain-Daniel has been working in mobile for over 10 years now, but made the switch to gaming in 2009. His game studio, GreenCod Apps, has released multiple games including Pinball Deluxe and Bad Traffic that have more than 8m downloads together. Alain-Daniel has been active in the indie community since arriving in Vancouver in 2011.
Who is Full Indie?
The simplest way to know more about us is to attend one of our meetups: http://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Indie-Game-Developers/
The Full Indie group is organized around a monthly meeting inviting all independent game developers to join in for an evening of networking, presentations, and demos of current projects. Started in 2010 there are now nearly 2000 members and we host 275-strong monthly events.
Vancouver is actually an outstanding place for independent developers, in part, because of the strong presence of other indies and the opportunity to learn from each other. The Full Indie group offers an avenue for the community to get together and reinforce those ties.