From June 29 to July 1 has been celebrated in Barcelona (Spain) Gamelab 2011: the international videogames conference. I have been there the whole three days attending almost all the conferences and walking around the playing area. So, I have seen and lived probably the 95% of this Gamelab 2011. In today’s post I’m going to talk about my vision of the conference and the benefits I got from it.
This is my third important event. At the previous two, I attended as speaker talking about New Sokoban and my experience as an indie developer. In Gamelab 2011 I attended as a regular attendee, looking for good talks from relevant people in the videogames world, try new games and do networking. Based on these three goals I must admit that Gamelab 2011 has been the best conference I attended and the worst at the same time. Let’s talk a little bit about this.
If you go to the official Gamelab 2011 website, you will see that there were very important speakers: Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux, Trip Hawkins, American McGee… and many many more. Take a look at the official site.
So, Gamelab looked great to me when I first red the scheduled conferences and the speakers listed. However, that was my gamer side. From the point of view of my indie game developer side I was afraid that the conference was not designed for me.
Once there at the Gamelab, the first think I noticed was that the organization was terrible. Really terrible. The place was difficult to find and to access in. The audio was so bad that you needed to use headsets to understand what the speaker was saying. In your own language!
Moreover, lots of the talks were boring and commercially oriented. And the few ones that were not boring, were not useful for a little indie dev like me, although a few were quite inspiring. Those people are too important. What they say does not apply to me (yet 😉 ).
So that’s obviously the worst part. The reason I said that Gamelab 2011 is the worst conference I have attended so far. However, it had a positive side: the networking. Without the pressure of having to give a talk, I was more relaxed. This helped me to met new people that were incredibly great. I have learned a lot in this Gamelab from the other indie game devs that have also attended to it. So, that’s obviously the best part. That’s why I also say that Gamelab 2011 is the best conference I have attended so far.
I think that I am always trying to avoid the unavoidable. I always expect some support to the little indie dev community from big conferences. However, the only goal of those conferences is to make money, not to support the games industry. Probably, the people in charge have the initial intention to make a good conference to encourage young people to make games and help our industry to grow. But I think that they get lost in the process of preparation. And finally is always the same. The conference seems to claim: “Hey! I’m very important! Do you see that? No?! It’s true, I’m very important!” But, for me, the only important thing was the great people I met there. The people that you, lovely conference, think that are not important.
Anyway. Despite all those negative aspects, next year I’m going to repeat. But only to meet again those awesome indie developers and to share useful knowlege and experiences with them.