GDC and SXSW SURVIVAL GUIDE

GDC & SXSW bring developers and industry together in one (two?…) places and provide some of the best promotion, networking, and business development opportunities of the year. Did we mention parties? Oh, so many parties…
Make sure YOUR games play ahead of the pack and stand out by following these simple 10 tips to keeping up during one of the industry’s busiest weeks of the year.
 
1: Plan your day!
Check conference tracks and make sure you know where you need to be and when. Highlight your “must sees” and make sure you give yourself adequate time to make it to your venue and hold a spot for yourself. There is nothing worse than not getting a seat, especially if you’ve been waiting in an hour-long line. Not sure if your highlighted tracks are popular? Ask around your network (FB, Twitter) in advance and get the skinny on what tracks and events will be the most popular this year.
2: Dress comfortably (but not TOO comfortably…)
You’ll be on your feet all day, but you’ll also be making connections with some potentially career-making/breaking people (sometimes by complete happenstance). Put your best foot forward, stand out from the crowd, and make sure, when someone meets you, they know they can take you seriously. You want them to know that you’re a person worth partnering with and that you will respect the business development process. Don’t forget to wear comfortable business-casual shoes, bring your business cards, and have all pertinent materials (press kits, portfolio, etc.) on hand. No shame in a solid backpack or bag to stay organized.
 
3. Get names. Write them down.
You know that old memory trick- once you are given a business card, jot a quick note about the conversation you had with that person or something that stands out about your meeting on the back of the card. Consider bringing a notepad and having a single space where you collect all contact information for the week. You will forget details by the end of the week, so be organized and keep your contact info in a central location!
4. Don’t forget to Follow Up
Don’t let more than a week go by after making a contact without sending an email. Nothing says, “I respect you, your time, and moving forward working together” better than a solid follow up. Remind them who you are, where you met, the discussion you had at the conference. Don’t be shy – also remind them of how a relationship with you will benefit them, what you can do for them, and offer a time to follow up further in person or over the phone.
 
5. Identification
You may find yourself visiting another city this week. Traffic, transportation, getting into 21+ events, and collecting your credentials/registration is going to be a thing. Have your identification ready to go from the moment you hit the airport to the moment you go grab your badge. Don’t hold the team up; have your ID ready to go.
6. KEEP CHARGED and STAY CONNECTED
Don’t forget to keep your devices (phones, computers) charged, and get them charged when you have a moment. Bring a small external battery pack, if necessary. This will help you stay in the loop and not miss out on important emails, staying social, and inevitable changes to time and location of conference events.
 
7. Get noticed online!
What are your social media handles, promotional hashtags, and other digital assets that you need promoted? Connect with new friends fast by following each other on social (bring that 3DS for StreetPass connections, too!) and take some solid photos and footage of the events. Post what you can and look for event hashtags to tag/mention! This will help bring attention to your company, game, or project. Grab one of these FREE Zymge Social Media Stickers! Be part of the global conversation WHILE it is happening, and capture the attention of onlookers with your visuals.
8. Don’t over do it. (How much fun is too much?)
Remember to sleep, eat, and recharge your own batteries. Common sense, right? Nope! And we’ve all been there. Be cautious and safe where alcohol consumption is concerned. Make sure you leave enough energy in the tank to survive the entire week. After the least day, you still need to load out, make it home, and complete your follow-ups quickly. Survive by getting a solid breakfast in, bring a light snack, and don’t party too hard. That being said, some of your best networking will happen in the after hours, and nobody wants to partner or work with a total stiff. So get in there, tiger!
9. Have your promotional materials handy
Keep your promotional kit compact and easy to hand out as you go. Don’t over do it! People don’t want to carry a crate of your materials around with them. Give them all the best information and contacts, links or information to get more info. Travel light and help your fellow conference attendees do the same thing.
10. Austin Gaming, represent!
Represent the Austin Game Dev community well. We have the best talent in the world, and we want companies, publishers, and distributors to know that Austin is where best-in-class game development is happening. When one of us wins, it’s a victory for the ENTIRE game development community.

 

Join your Austin Game Devs Leadership for the Austin – IGDA “2015 Retrospective and 2016 Plan” Meetup!

march7event

Join Austin Game Devs on Monday, March 7 to review our accomplishments from 2015 and to discuss strategic planning in 2016.

Chapter leadership will unveil our 2016 mission, how it corresponds to the greater Austin game development industry, event programming themes, and welcomes community input on which direction to take the chapter as we venture forward with new purpose and goals.

Join us for a meal and drinks, as well! We are excited to see what our friends (new and old) are up to and continue to provide our game development community with the resources needed to make Austin THE place for developers to work, grow, and create the highest quality products in the industry!

Bank of America / Merrill Lynch 2016 Austin Technology Innovation Forum

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Along with a number of other representatives of the video game industry (nice seeing you Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton), I had the chance to attend Bank of America’s most recent Austin Technology Innovation Forum yesterday at the W Hotel.  Great talks by a number of interesting panelists and speakers.

No surprise that security was a top consideration.   The variety of topics, risk vectors and potential fixes is staggering.

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Lots of good discussion on how tech is transforming society; key areas: mobile, social, and big data – all considerations for game developers.  The “Internet of Things” is coming along fast – what kind of games can we make if everything is interconnected?  Interesting omission (at least at the macro level): VR.

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Thank you Bank of America and Merrill Lynch for the great event!  Looking forward to 2017.

Intel Buzz Workshop

Back in October, we were excited to help Intel bring to Austin their “Intel Buzz Workshop,” an event focused on game development and how Intel tech can help.  Over the course of the day, we had a ton of great speakers including Warren Spector (Director, Denius-Sams Gaming Academy) and Starr Long (Portalarium).  The agenda is below; if you missed it, you can catch the entire event on Twitch here:

http://www.twitch.tv/intelgamedev/v/20796728

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.11.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.08.57 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.08.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.07.58 PM

11:15-11:45 Keynote

Warren Spector, Director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy

11:45-12:35 Women In Games: All-Star Discussion Panel

Panelist: Stephanie Orkand, XO Group Inc.

Panelist: Tess Snider, Hidden Achievement

Panelist: Sheri Graner Ray, Big Noise Games

Moderator: Jennifer Bullard, Founder, Captivate Conference

12:35-1:25 Lunch
1:25-2:05

 

Put Your Player in the Game: Experience Deeper Immersive Experiences with Intel’s RealSense

Speaker: Joe Scheinberg, SW Engineer,  Intel

2:10-2:45 So You Want to Build a Snowman? …but it’s Summer – Tips on building a Unity game while keeping future platforms a consideration

Speaker: Corey Johnson, Unity

2:45-3:00 Break
3:00-3:30 Design Vision vs. Feedback: Developing in the Open

Speaker: Starr Long, Executive Producer, Portalarium

3:30-3:45 Break
3:45-4:15 Make Good Games into Great Games with Intel® INDE Graphic Performace Analyzers

Speaker: Brandon Blair, Intel

4:15-5:00 How to Launch and Fund Games – All-Star Panel

Panelist: Raphael Colantonio, Arkane Studios

Panelist: Gordon Walton, Art & Craft Entertainment

Panelist: Elizabeth Howard, Aspyr Media

Moderator: Frank Coppersmith, President, IGDA-Austin

Finn Staber at Unite!

Back in October, Finn Staber of Portalarium and a member of Austin’s IGDA steering committee, served on a panel at Unite!

Successfully adding AR or VR to your studio’s arsenal is expensive, and requires significant R&D burn. Programmers & Designers must act as “early adopters” of this new tech to keep ahead of the curve, and accurately convey emerging feature requirements to clients or other developers. The standard for developing AR/VR experiences is rapidly evolving as developers pioneer new interaction methods & gameplay mechanics. This session will explore best practices for AR & VR as we stride in to the future, and how studios can position their teams ahead of the development curve.

Finn Staber – IGDA Steering Committee Member and Unite Speaker!

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Unite 2015 is coming up in Boston next week and Finn Staber will be there.  Finn will be joining Pete Moss from Unity Technologies on the talk…

AR & VR Development: Sharpening the Tip of the Spear

5:30-6:30, AUDITORIUM

Track: VR/AR, Business / Level: All

Successfully adding AR or VR to your studio’s arsenal is expensive, and requires significant R&D burn. Programmers & Designers must act as “early adopters” of this new tech to keep ahead of the curve, and accurately convey emerging feature requirements to clients or other developers. The standard for developing AR/VR experiences is rapidly evolving as developers pioneer new interaction methods & gameplay mechanics. This session will explore best practices for AR & VR as we stride in to the future, and how studios can position their teams ahead of the development curve.

Pete Moss – Unity Technologies
Finn Staber – Portalarium

Great job Finn in getting selected as a featured speaker!

Best Cities for Video Game Development Jobs

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A recent article in Game Industry Career Guide (http://www.gameindustrycareerguide.com/best-cities-for-video-game-development-jobs/) names Austin as the number 2 city in the US for video game development, counting 44 game studios. Our “unofficial” count of game studios (using Linked In and other sources) makes the count closer to 135, but this includes many small indie studios.

IGDA Attends the Austin Technology Council CEO Summit

Ceo summit

On May 28th, I had a chance, along with Leandro Gonzalez, CEO of Trick Game Studio, to join top executives in Austin at the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit.  The day long, invitation only event connects Austin leaders to discuss a vision for the local technology industry, to share best practices, and to connect with colleagues facing the same challenges and opportunities in growing their companies.  Best of all: for the first time, the video game industry was recognized for it’s ongoing contributions!

Key lessons learned include:

1. The Collaborative Economy:  “In the age of the collaborative economy, companies will need to learn how to adapt through creating membership models and diversifying their physical goods into services.”  – Jeremiah Owyang, CEO, Crowd Companies

2. Lessons in Leadership: “Entrepreneurs need to be bold, have courage and take risks. They also need to understand that there is nothing more important than the team that they build.”  – Kevin Plank, CEO, Under Armour

3. Austin’s Capital Landscape: Second stage funding is beginning to come into Austin from all over the country. The city is in a stage of fast growth and Austin should pursue those prospects.

4. Attracting Tech Talent: Austin companies are not paying enough to compete with the companies moving in from out of market. Austin needs to provide better opportunities to attract entry level candidates.

5. Austin’s New Opportunities: “Medtech is on the rise, and Austin is the place to be for innovation in the industry. With the advent of 3D printing and other technologies, medical devices are cool again.” – Kerry Rupp, COO, Medical Innovation Labs

Great event!

 

IGDA Austin Attends the Game Developers Conference

The Game Developers Conference returned to San Francisco in early March and I was there.  As the chair of the Austin chapter, I was pleased to have a chance to represent Austin and our community at the world’s largest annual gathering of video game developers.  IGDA was also out in force, sponsoring numerous panels, social events, student attendees and a booth.   Some of the IGDA events I attended include:

  • Volunteer banquet where more than 100 chapter leaders, dedicated volunteers and student participants were feted for their support of the organization.  
  • IGDA networking event at the San Francisco Children’s Museum.  One of the biggest and eagerly anticipated events of GDC, the IGDA networking event brought together hundreds of attendees in a terrific space adjacent to the Moscone Center for an evening of music, food and great conversation.  We also celebrated Kate Edwards (IGDA’s exec director) 50th birthday!
  • IGDA chapter meetings.  Leaders from around the world met with the executive leadership of the IGDA and discussed how to make the organization better and more responsive/valuable to its membership.  I was stunned by the extraordinary breadth of the IGDA, meeting leaders from Europe and Asia.
  • IGDA board meeting.  The official annual meeting of the IGDA board of directors surfaced some interesting and eye-opening information about the organization.  Slides are here: IGDA Annual Meeting 2015 (PDF).
  • Overall, my first GDC was terrific and I was honored to represent Austin!

You can read more here about IGDA and the GDC:  https://www.igda.org/news

IGDA Austin Joins Tech Executives at the Governors Mansion

On March 14, I joined over 300 tech executives to hear Governor Greg Abbot talk about Texas’ booming technology economy.   The video game industry in Texas (and especially Austin) is a critical piece, and sadly, one that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.   Helping to change that, IGDA Austin joined with the Entertainment Software Association and other tech leaders, investors and entrepreneurs in an event with the new governor of Texas.  While Governor Abbot’s remarks were brief, they were focused on how Texas is out-competing other states for tech talent and investment. 

You can read more here:  http://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/14/capitalizing-sxsw-greg-abbott-touts-texas-economy/