As I write this, it has been just over a week since Melbourne International Games Week has drawn to a close. If you are not familiar with the event, it is the one week of the year where Australia’s game professionals (and a strong international presence) descend upon the Windy City of Coffee for a series of conferences, finishing up with PAX AUS- Australasia’s largest video game expo.
Photo credit: Izzy Gramp/MCV Pacific
Several more developer-centric events take place during that week; Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP- the largest dev conference), GCAP Loading (for the students), Unity’s UNITE, the annual MIGW Women in Games Lunch, the Australian Game Developer Awards and several other functions parties and exhibitions. To attend is to experience a startling schedule where every waking moment is taken up for days. And PAX AUS, a consumer-focussed event, albeit with a strong developer and publisher presence takes place (not to mention the many after-parties and events surrounding that).
For a developer attending the week, the best part is that everything conveniently happens in a week. And of course, the hardest part is that everything is happening over the course of one week and it is exhausting. By Monday I saw many tired and happy faces before making my trip home the day after.
A growing part of the GCAP scene and even penetrating into PAX AUS, has been the presence of serious games and simulations. It is good to see and it shows that the reach of games is not limited into frivolous entertainment. In fact, in a surprise twist, Opaque Space’s stunning Earthlight- a virtual reality simulation of being an astronaut aboard the ISS won one of the Game of the Year awards at the AGDAs mentioned above.
Photo credit: Kim Allom and team.
I have always had roles where conferences, roadshows and expos have been present, but never anything on this scale. And it still surprises me when developers make their way over, spending thousands of dollars on flights, accommodation, hospitality and tickets but do not really have a plan which to maximize the benefit of the time. If someone just wants to go, meet people, enjoy a few seminars and drinks with interstate friends, then that’s fine, but it does not help grow oneself commercially or enhance one’s reach as a developer. Often developers are working part time on their projects or are not highly paid, so I find it interesting they go to the events but do not plan their time.
As a commercial developer, we go to these events with several goals in mind:
- To grow our industry profile as this leads to the possibility of third-party or co-operative work.
- To meet publishers and vendor representatives as we rarely get to see them in Australia, let alone in our home city of Perth. Vendor representatives are crucial to our business as we do not want to be just another email in their inbox. We want them to care about our relationships.
- To build up contacts: whether you need mentors, people to talk through a project with, collaborators or are looking to hire, throwing business cards around and bonding with other people in the industry is a huge reason to go.
- To attend seminars and keep at the forefront of industry knowledge and trends.
- To be inspired by other amazing work coming from around the country and beyond.
As a creative business, it is simply good commercial sense to make sure our staff have seen the best that the Australian industry has to offer. Events like the GCAP showcase and PAX Rising allow our developers to come into contact with products that we might have missed, as they are made by smaller companies that do not have the multi-million dollar marketing budgets of the AAA publishers.
At the end of the week, I found myself how I always do- tired, with a sense of accomplishment and in need of a few easy days. Self-care is important during these weeks and I never seem to manage enough, but I always come away with new business contacts and having reaffirmed relationships with others.
Photo credit: Kim Allom and team.