Thursday, October 09, 2008

Reflections on Meaningful Play Day 1

I'm enjoying myself here, to say the very least.

Others are saying it too.

Many people I've met here, who have gone to several conferences in the past, have mentioned the quality of both the content and attendees. For what it's worth, that's one of the reasons why this 'liveblogging' attempt has failed - I've been too busy hanging out with all these smart people!
Good thing there is another two days of stuff.

The rest of yesterday, however, went really well. The "Talent, Incentives, and Infrastructure: Growing the Game Industry in Michigan" Panel was very enlightening. The panelists were:

Gjon Camaj, CEO Image Space, inc.; Matt Toschlog CEO, Reactor Zero; Ton Wenson, COO Michigan Film Office; and Prof. Brian Winn.

Image Space is in Ann Arbor. Mainly racing titles and simulations. Toschlog worked on Ultima Underworld, and Descent long before founding Reactor Zero.

Good news, though: Wenson really does want to help build up the games industry in Michigan. He and the other panelists are going to get together in the future, because apparently the legislation really has no clue how to properly foster the growth of game design firms. They did pass some sort of start-up help, apparently, but it was never funded.

They did bring up some other things people generally don't think about. Michigan offers a lot of 'extracurricular' things, that dense cities can't offer. Like seasons, lower cost of living, and (generally) better schools. So developers who are interested in family as well as work would more than likely be interested in Michigan over a dense city.

Toschlog mentioned we have access to plenty of junior level talent, but not really anything higher.

Beyond that, Wenson seemed very open to meeting people and getting input. He wants me to send him an email, and I'm going to suggest that he joins the IGDA mailing list.

After that, Jared Riley from Hero Interactive described how he was making money making Flash games for Armor Games and Kongregate and such. Rumor has it they're doing rather well, so checking out his slides is probably a good idea if you're about to start out with that kind of stuff. (Like me.)

Afterwards, there was a Posters and Demonstration gallery at the brand-new East Lansing Technology Innovation Center. To my surprise, Jamie Antonisse was there, showing off Hush! It was great to meet him in person and talk about the incredibly engaging experience he helped make. He said that the turning point of 'hooking' someone into the game was when the audio guys added the initial radio broadcast.

It was a little loud in the gallery, but it was still an engaging experience for people who hadn't seen it before.

I didn't get a chance to check out all of the games, but it was a very cool experience. I got to chat with Nick Fortugno of Rebel Monkey games. They're gonna launch a casual Flash MMOG in the next couple months, and apparently it's from a position that no one else has taken before.

Okay, time to go see Leigh Anne Cappello, the play futurist.

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