Frankly, Austin, I DO give a damn
Sep 11, 2006 11:45:13

The Austin Games Conference was my first trip to an event of this kind. As a gamer stranded in Minnesota, it is a considerable undertaking to make journeys to events like this, but I finally took the plunge and made my way to Austin to see what it was all about. I think AGC was pretty much the ideal "beta" for a game spectacle n00b like me because it was small and easy to navigate. The three-day event had around 2500 participants consisting of game developers, game related service providers, and a small contingent of gaming press. The show floor was small, nothing like the big game conventions, because this was for developers, not the public, not for retailers, and to some extent, not for the press. Presentations by vendors were aimed at game developers. Hosting solutions, art asset providers and game engine vendors were outnumbered only by recruiting teams from game schools, dev studios and headhunters.

I have been in the IT industry for around 13 years and during my time in corporate America I've attended many lectures, training courses, seminars, and all day planning meetings, so I'm familiar with the atmosphere and tedium of such events. On day one of AGC, I found a place to sit in the massive lecture hall where Rob Pardo's keynote would be delivered. As the keynote introductions began, I settled into that familiar conference frame of mind, subconsciously treating it like any other business presentation, while my conscious mind eager devoured the ins and outs of the Blizzard design philosophy.

And then it happened. About half-way through Rob's presentation, I glanced at the huge room behind me. It was packed. Then I look up at those two huge screens where Rob's Powerpoint presentation was projected. The screen had a few of Rob's bullet points surrounded by WoW artwork. I said to myself, "We're taking about MMOs here!" Somehow, the formality of the registration, the professional sheen of the conference center, and the business-like presentation from Rob had lulled me into a "just another business conference" frame of mind. As I jolted out of that I wanted to stand up and cheer, but I limited myself to painting on a huge smile. If you're never been to something like this, I must stress how absolutely refreshing and exciting it is to realize that there are businesses in the world that are indeed ‘fun’. This thought occurred to me time and time again over the course of the 3 day seminar. I was reminded by every analytical presentation, by every demonstration, and every business card that not only was I at a serious conference, I was at one that I actually cared about.

In some ways the conference was uneventful for me. I didn't do any formal interviews. I didn't see anything groundbreaking (except the Ryzom Ring - wow!). I didn’t write any lengthy articles. I didn't scoop any big stories.

I did get to match some names and faces and I certainly learned a ton about the game development business, but in many ways it was much more familiar to me than you might expect. It was like any other industry-specific conference, except I actually gave a damn.

Submitted by Brent on Sep 11, 2006 11:45:13 CST (comments: 0)


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