Question Time: How Can We Make Game Connect 08 Awesome?

Question Time: How Can We Make Game Connect 08 Awesome?
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Above is a photo I took during last year’s Game Connect Asia Pacific. It’s about multi-threading, which is fascinating (and scary) as hell to a programmer, but a sleeping pill in slide form to the common person.

Yet, this is the type of presentation you can expect from the conference. It’s not eGames. Or Go3. Or Atomic Live. For every Steve Fawkner chatting about casual and hardcore games or Martin Slater giving APIs a bum rap, there’s your not-so-enthralling discussions on inverse kinematics and Z-buffering: The 3rd Dimension.

Having coded the odd program, edited a gaming tech magazine and now a gaming blog, there aren’t many presentations at GCAP I don’t get something out of, either professionally or personally.

But GCAP isn’t the same event it once was. Over the last few years, it’s become harder for me to justify the trip to Melbourne (Brisbane this year). Game Connect was once called AGDC, or the Australian Game Developers Conference. As AGDC, it was run by the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. I can’t say much about the administration of the event, but as a journo and a hobby developer, there was a lot more content to sink my object-orientated fangs in to. The Game Developers Association of Australia is now in control (and has been for a couple of years), and I feel in its attempt to make an honest, for-the-industry event, some important details have been neglected. The debacle with speaker fees is one example.

I believe GCAP is in good hands now, but what the organisers need are suggestions. Ideas. Offers. It’s an event that has to be taken seriously. So what I want to know is: If given the chance, would you attend a developer focused event such as Game Connect? And if so, what would you like to see there?

If you’re after more information about GCAP, be sure to check out Kotaku AU for last year’s coverage and the official website.


  • I would like to see more interaction between game developers and researchers. AGDC experimented with the idea of “academic summit”, but it was too separate, too isolated and not sufficiently rigorous in terms of a research gathering.

    The Interactive Entertainment conference is in Brisbane this year — who knows maybe it is an opportunity for closer interaction.

    [Disclaimer: I am involved with IE conference]

  • @Yusuf: I didn’t realise there was an IE conference. That’s a great start. I know having stats from ABS on the industry has been enormously insightful, so any additional research would be a boon.

  • I’m curious as to what people find the most useful/interesting – dedicated sessions with one guy up front -‘lecturing’, or round table sessions with a group of industry people talking and taking questions from the attendees, or debates or some other form of session?

  • I’m with Yusuf here. Academic research can easily be dull and tangential to the concerns of a lot of game developers. But there’s no reason it has to be. Lots of industries have good ties with academic research and benefit as a result. And there’s a lot more that can be done than just generating stats about the industry 🙂

    I’d like to see some debate about the role and value of academic research into games and game design. I’m trying to get a paper up for GCAP on this very issue and I plan to make it a practical paper that makes some suggestions, so it’s not just pie in the sky stuff. A panel on this topic would be good – IF it’s organised in the right way.

    Tony – I don’t think it’s the mode that matters, so much as the content and style of the presentation.

    Presentations – panels or single speakers – should give us something to take away that we can only get if we attended the conference. If we can get the same thing from reading a paper or watching a video then it’s not going to be as valuable to attend. A speaker who gets up and performs their paper, who shows video or other material I can’t get off youtube, who expands on the ideas in the paper and responds interactively with the audience makes me feel like I was glad to be there. A speaker who just reads the paper makes me feel like I’m wasting my time because I could have listened to that on a podcast (or read the paper myself).

    Panels should bring together people who wouldn’t ordinarily come together on the set topic, or who wouldn’t ordinarily talk about the topic if left to their own devices. A game postmortem is a good idea, but only if we’re going to get insights from the panel that we can’t get from reading the same post mortem on gamasutra.

    I’d also make sure that each panel or discussion was clearly outlined on a web site well before the conference so attendees can make an informed choice about what to go and see. Encourage speakers to think about pimping their session – which attendees should come to the session and why should they go?

    In short, the goal for any conference should be to get information sharing happening through networking opportunities and formal presentations. If it’s done right it should make us feel like we’re going to be missing out on something if we don’t attend (and better still, this should actually be true!).

  • Hello I’m a recently transplanted game designer/academic with an MIT pedigree and I’ve been urged to submit an academic talk to GCAP along the lines of my expertise (Videogame Secrets! Cheats!, Gaming Authorship! Game Design Education)

    Based on the comments I’ve read here and the GCAP website it doesn’t seem as though my sort of topic is very common at this conference. GCAP seems to have a more industry step by step instructional mentality + industry promotion than an exploration of gameness.

    In my previous talks at GDC and Futureplay I found the perspective of design informing industry and visa versa was very welcome. Is GCAP a welcome space for this kind of academic talk? I swear my talks are super fun! I’m talking about secrets after all!

    I guess the point of this post is that I would like to know what the atmosphere is like. Is it GDCish? Is it kind? Or is it full of jaded developers sleepwalking through step by step development post-mortums who look upon the academic approach with disdain?

    on the topic of awesomeness
    – experienced game developers who are still excited about the industry are exciting,
    -Humanitarian Gaming Efforts (One Laptop per Child) is exciting,
    -New areas, ideas and an openness to industry growth (sex in games, game art, mobile game developers who are INSPIRED) is exciting.

    Variety is the spice of life!

    Also the gratuitous ultra nerd programmers jeopardy (a la GDC) is f**king hilarious.

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