Along with 4 other students, I was invited by the IGDA to come to their summit in Seattle, WA. With the first day’s four tracks being QA, Monetization, Entrpreneurship, and Community Development I felt a little out of place. This was a developer’s conference (hence the name) and although I was just as interested in games, this interest ran orthogonal to theirs. The barrier between us always positioned firmly between the valuation of learning to do and learning simplicitor. Regardless, my interest in the materiality of games (whatever that may be), and the structures that enable games to come about, kept me keenly focused on what everyone had to say. The second day went differently as tracks were about writing and special topics. It was there I heard Chris Bateman speak about Kendall Walton and analytic aesthetic philosophy with respect to play. He was a designer turned consultant who spent his spare time reading that which I studied and it was strange to see. I would never have imagined non-academics reading that stuff. Even more, his book on the topic is dated for publication in late october!
In addition to the summit, Casual Connect, a 3 day expo/meet-up/conference on casual games, ran in parallel. There, I saw LeVar Burton speak about his life and work… The rest was skipped for IGDA stuff. Although I did collect as much swag and free food/drink as I could.
The following three days were the most intriguing. As part of the scholarship program, Jack Bogdan, the IGDA’s head of Innovation, and Gordon Bellamy, it’s president, toured 7 game companies/ studios with us. While I signed more NDAs in that week then in my entire Life, I will say that each studio was extremely different. Some had bright offices, others dark. Some had thickly populated workspaces, others had more room, perhaps more than they needed. Some had rigorous work structures, others were based on self motivation. Some had community managers, in charge of making employees happy, others not at all. Some were hierarchically structured, others were flatter. It was enough to make me realize that game companies have very different philosophies and that these tend to mirror what it is they make. Its enough to contemplate all kinds of chickens and eggs.