Last night’s panel was fun, and I think everyone got a lot out of it. My throat is a bit sore from doing so much talking. I think everyone should be glad the time was limited because I felt like I could have kept talking about video games and the business of making them for much longer.
It’s exciting to see so many students interested in game development as a career. When I was going to college, the game development curriculum was just getting launched, and game development was kind of the black sheep of software development. The feeling I always got was “You COULD work in games, but you can also get a REAL job”. Sure, some of my friends knew how cool it could be, but most people didn’t think of making video games as any more of a job than doodling in a notebook. Being interested in game development, I let it become nothing more than a hobby for a long time. At this event, you could feel the enthusiasm in the room after the formal panel was finished. These were people who wanted to make games.
The panel participants covered a wide range of topics. We touched on business, legal, and accounting concerns, such as what business entity to form and the importance of copyright, trademark, and patent laws. We talked about targeting niche markets and how to sell games to them. We talked about the problems with the video game industry as a whole, gender inclusive game design and development, and the market for people who don’t know that they play video games or might like to do so.
I learned later that the supposedly mundane topics focusing on legal and business matters were the most interesting to the students. I think this is great news. When I was first thinking about getting into the video game industry, I assumed I would have to work for a company like Nintendo. Later I figured I’d work at Midway or Konami (they used to have an office outside of Chicago). It was only recently that I realized that I could start my own company, and here was a room full of people who are contemplating doing so!
Since this event was such a success, it looks like the Chicago Game Developer Gathering will be a regular meetup. I think Chicago game developers need more opportunities to connect with each other. San Diego and San Francisco have healthy and active IGDA chapters, but Chicago’s game companies have always seemed unfriendly and less open. Hopefully the CGDG can help Chicago be the game development hub it can be.