Game Connect 08: Where Developers Must Pay To Speak

gcap_logo.jpgGame Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) is probably the biggest annual event in the country aimed at both seasoned and budding developers. I know I'll be doing my best to get to Brisbane for the conference, even though it's not quite the show it used to be. And the warmer climate makes my fingers sweat.

Say you're an experienced dev. You'd like to go to GCAP and share your hints, tips and valuable advice. Heck, the reason people will be coming to the conference is to hear you, and many others, share your knowledge. Then you find out that, in addition to paying for admission to the conference, you have to pay to speak as well.

Pandemic coder (and part-time console performance judge) Tony Albrecht found himself in this situation. Here's what he had to say:

So, if I want to speak at this conference, I have to pay full conference registration and I have to pay up front part of that registration for the privilege. Now, I understand that this is to prevent people from dropping out after they've committed to speaking, but is this really the right way to do it? Threaten us?

If you want good speakers, provide good benefits. Make people want to donate a considerable amount of their own time in order to present a good session. Yes, it means that you won't get registration fees from those 20 or so speakers, but if so few people are registering that you really need the fees from those people that actually make the show worth attending, then I think you've got greater problems than just financial ones.

I agree - GCAP would be largely pointless without speakers. In fact, the sessions are a highlight!

Albrecht doesn't finish without providing his own ideas as to how the GDAA can get speakers to come without insulting them. He also throws in a few suggestions as to how the event as a whole can be improved to get attendence numbers up.

What? I have to PAY to speak? [Seven Degree Of Freedom]


Comments

    It's silly for speakers to have to pay. GDC doesn't do that. SiGGraph doesn't do that.

    If GCAP wants to prevent speaker no-shows, they're going about it entirely the wrong way.

    How many speakers are not going to contribute because of this? I know a few...

    Dear Guys

    Let's get this in perspective. GCAP endeavours to accommodate speakers on the basis that they get free registration for the day they speak.Last year we had a number of speaker no-shows and this did no go down well at with delegates not to mention the added cost to the event in finding replacement speakers etc.

    GDAA is a not for profit organisation and I am amazed at those that want something for nothing.

    Those that are complaining should be supporting us so we can put more back into the industry that we all live for.

    Greg
    CEO GDAA

    Dear Greg,
    Those that are complaining *are* the ones that are supporting you. Have you considered the cost of creating and giving a presentation? You're looking at least 2 days of work, plus flights, plus accommodation plus extras - its not cheap. The people that give these sessions are generally quite senior developers and their time is very valuable to their company. Is it any wonder that its hard to get good people to present sessions?

    I've supported the Australian conferences now for 10 years - I've presented sessions at 8 of them. I've seen it climb and fall in quality - I genuinely want it to succeed, but all I see is more and more reasons for people to discredit it. Senior people in the industry that I talk to can't see any point in attending other than for networking and a chance to drink with friends.

    GCAP should be so much more than that.

    Tony Albrecht

    Perspective is necessary, you're right, Greg.

    I understand you may need something to 'lock in' the guest speakers, but pretend for a moment you're not a regular (or maybe you're even a vet) and considered speaking - now you have this financial barrier, in addition to flights, to you giving away your time and expertise for free?

    I would be more aggressively pursuing sponsorship deals, and if you really need to encourage speakers to turn up, give them the opportunity to benefit from it.

    Dear Gamers, Game Developers etc.

    OK - I am going to propose to the GCAP Committee that ALL speakers be given free and/or concessional regsitration. To err is human to forgive divine. I have been over-zealous. Sorry guys.

    I have sympathy for Greg and Tom Crago (President), who have been doing a great job on other fronts.

    They inherited this conference from previous management, who in their 'wisdom' withdrew support for the established industry conference and it's a shame they are no longer around to share the blame for what GCAP has become.

    Hi Everyone,

    Steve Fawkner from Infinite Interactive here. I've been chatting with the GDAA and seems there may have been a bit of a miscommunication about the fees-for-speakers issue. The truth is that speaker no-shows were absolutely a pain in the butt for GCAP last year, and it is something they're trying to address to make the conference better for everyone. My understanding is that the fee-for-speaking is not set in stone just yet so I think this might all naturally sort itself out in the correct manner given a little bit of time.

    Greg, it sounds more like it's the GDAA who wants something for nothing.

    We ran Free Play off the smell of an oily rag. We put the very, very small amount of funding we had towards the travel an accommodation expenses of our speakers.

    Now, if a tiny arts organisation can do that, I think it’s a bit rich for a commercial industry association/corporate event to cry poor.

    In my experience, speakers are more likely to pull out and leave you in the lurch if they feel like they don’t owe the conference anything. And when you don’t give your speakers a fair deal, they’re not likely to feel like they owe you much, are they?

    Phend, the conference was "wrested" from a dictator who personally "owned" it. The previous conference was "for profit" and was run with one goal in mind - to build it up and sell it to CMP for a profit. It is far better for the conference to be in public hands than private.

    Mr X, that's simply wrong. I worked on the AGDC for four years and I was there at the end.

    The conference was owned and operated by a not-for-profit entity. It wasn't the lucrative cash cow that some people seem to think. The current GCAP situation should be proof enough that there isn't a lot of money in it.

    Phend, if you were indeed involved you will then know that the terms that the "not-for-profit entity" put upon the GDAA if it were to take it over as AGDC, including names and trademarks, were financial and ongoing commitments - a trailing commision - in short the AGDC was a thinly veiled profit making regime set up for the good of one individual rather than the industry as a whole. It may well not have run at a profit, but it could have been sold for one, as GDC was in the US, and that was the main aim.

    Further, if that individual had the industry's interests in mind then the AGDC name and logo's etc would have been gifted to the GDAA rather than the extortion attempt that occurred. Put simply, it is GCAP instead of AGDC because the the "not-for-profit entity" you speak of wanted to profit from the sale of the name etc...

    Not unreasonable given the timing of the events and the resources that AGDC took to run each year.

    Perhaps you should ask the GDAA if they wanted to run GCAP this year? You may be surprised by the answer.

    I'm really sad to see that this divisive shit is still going on in the industry...

    "Not unreasonable given the timing of the events and the resources that AGDC took to run each year." - So Phend, finally you admit that you did want to make a profit, that you think you should have been paid by the GDAA for the conference name etc.... I think we all now know who "Phend" is..... Remember that the industry donated it's time etc.. not just *you*

    The industry is not so divisive, but there are those of us that are really over the wolves in sheep's clothing, those in our industry that live off "not-for-profit" organisations and government hand outs but actually produce nothing substantial.

    Huh? I think you will find that GCAP needs to be profitable/viable for the GDAA to run each year just the same, otherwise they couldn't do it. I honestly hope that it is viable; the conference is important for the local industry. As I said above, Tom and Greg are doing a great job.

    You clearly don't know who I am. Phend is a fairly obvious abbreviation of my full name.

    One day I'll learn not to bite and stay away from internet debates....

    Phend, the point is that you said you didn't do it for a profit but then said that you should profit from the "sale" of the name to the GDAA because of the work you put in. If the "not for profit", "kind and caring", "wonderful" AGDC organisation really was industry minded then the name "AGDC" would have been gifted to the GDAA - but they were and are not, obviously - that is why we have GCAP not AGDC as the name..... just stop the bullsh*t!....

    I will be in town for this event...my first visit to Australia! I have attended GDC SF,GDC Austin, SIGGRAPH and Montreal Game Summit. As a representative for The Art Institute of California-San Diego we were very interested in participating as speakers but did not have that allocation set in our budget, so the idea was scratched. In my experience, the smaller conferences offer the benefit of community and a chance to really connect with those who are attending. Although the conference is primarily the Australian community, it does afford those of us who are unfamiliar with the territory to familiarize ourselves with another branch of the industry without the overwhelming crowds.

    I believe that some of the Australian game companies have corporate connections to companies in the U.S., so the opportunity to include more foreigners within the presentations might create a bigger draw and drive more higher-ups to the venue. Corporate sponsorship is a great way to fund this type of activity. Not to mention the valuable PR a company can receive by sending a well known employee to present.

    Either way, I'm looking forward to attending and hoping to come back with some great new contacts, information and opportunities.

    See you there!

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