Another MassDiGI Game Challenge in the Books

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For the past three years, I’ve managed the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute’s (MassDiGI) Annual Game Challenge. And, the event has been a highlight of my year for the past three with 2014 being no exception. This year’s event featured 45 teams of independent and student game developers competing for a variety of honors. The basis of the event is to help indie, start-up and student game entrepreneurs to sharpen their ideas, pitches and products for launch. But, the event is not just a competition. It also provides teams with a chance to meet with industry mentors, listen to talks, play other games, and meet with peers.

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What is my role in the event? Along with my partners in crime, Monty Sharma and Tim Loew of MassDiGI, I coordinate logistics for the event and manage VIP communications. So, in other words, I handle everything from the master scheduling, to recruiting our VIPs (speakers, judges, mentors), to catering, competitor registration, and a little bit of everything in between. While I love event planning and all that in entails, my favorite part of the Game Challenge each year is interacting with participants – our competitors, judges, speakers and mentors. Each year I see many familiar faces, but also have the opportunity to meet new people and be inspired by all of the great work that our competitors, mentors, speakers and judges have done throughout the year.

As the years have gone by, we’ve continued to see the caliber of our competitor’s work improve. This year I was particularly impressed with our Grand Prize winner, Jenna Hoffstein of Little Worlds Interactive for her mobile educational title, The Counting Kingdom. Not only was Jenna our first “serious” games entrant to ever win the Game Challenge Grand Prize, but she is our first female Grand Prize winner! Congrats Jenna!

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“A Game PR Playbook” Talk @ MIGS 2013

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I recently had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Montreal International Games Summit (MIGS). Despite the frigid temperatures of Montreal in November, it was a great experience and fun to share some of my PR knowledge via a joint talk with Albert Reed, CEO of Demiurge Studios. And, did I mention that the Palais de Congress was one of the nicest convention centers I’ve ever seen?!

The focus of our talk, “A Game PR Playbook,” was to provide independent game developers insight into game PR basics, such as message and press kit development, media relations and events marketing. Al and I added some Demiurge flavor with specific examples from the launches of two of the studio’s 2013 mobile game releases – Shoot Many Robots and Marvel Puzzle Quest.

I hope that the talk was beneficial to developers in attendance (it seemed to be based on the feedback I received afterwards) and I also hope to attend MIGS again in 2014!

Until we meet again, Montreal…

A Match Made in Highgarden: Disruptor Beam and King Richard’s Faire

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In the godswood (ahem). I mean, in the woods of Carver, Massachusetts, the Disruptor Beam team hosted a “Game of Game of Thrones” trivia and costume contest for thousands of people in attendance at King Richard’s Faire, the largest renaissance faire on the east coast. I helped to coordinate the event in conjunction with the Disruptor Beam team and Faire staff, with all parties walking away with a positive experience.

The event was an interesting way to promote Game of Thrones Ascent, but also a venue for Disruptor Beam to host the company outing of all company outings! We had 1 or 2 people shy of the entire Disruptor Beam team attend. We handed out free in-game turkey legs for general attendees to consume within the game. Rich Gallup, the game’s Executive Producer, hosted the contest in full renaissance garb. And, Game of Thrones themed prizes were awarded to our costume and trivia contest winners. In true Game of Thrones style, lots of people were killed off in the Game of Game of Thrones, but one fair maiden from Highgarden – a Margaery Tyrell look-alike – won, taking home her very own miniature Iron Throne.

It was a blast for all – the Disruptor Beam staff, King Richard’s Faire, contest participants, and even me, who actually dressed up as a wench for the day. The event was a highlight of 2013 in my book – a memorable and very fun experience. Tons of photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manthatwhispers/sets/72157636050828776/ And, more pictures follow!

Photos courtesy of Tim Rice for King Richard’s Faire. 

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Boston FIGnites!

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For the second year in a row I managed PR efforts for the Boston Festival of Indie Games (aka Boston FIG). When thinking back about this year’s event, the word ‘ignite’ jumps to mind. It was a day *ignited* by the amazing energy of not just the independent game developers who showcased digital and tabletop games, but the compelling speakers, and over 5,000 people in attendance.  I know firsthand how difficult it can be to garner attention for an unknown game, but Boston FIG provides a platform for these developers to promote their games. And the dedicated effort of an all-volunteer staff (myself included) seems to be paying off for the game developers, as well as attendees and sponsors each year – a trend I hope to see continue into 2014!

I’d like to thank all of the staff, volunteers, attendees, participants, sponsors, and partners that made this year’s event possible, but also send a special thank you to the media who covered BostonFIG, both before and after the festival! Below are just a few of the many great stories that appeared surrounding the 2013 Fest. And, for more detail about the developers that were at the festival, check out my recap post on VentureFizz.

MetroWest Daily News / Cambridge Chronicle

Polygon.com

BostInno.com

Boston.com

Boston Globe

DIGBoston.com

GamePolitics.com

GameZone.com

Indie Game Magazine

Joystiq.com

VG247.com

 

 

Hammer-Time with EQHammer.com at SOE Live 2013!

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After many years of  working with TenTonHammer.com through a traditional PR / editorial relationship, I’ve recently been given the opportunity to assist with increasing the brand recognition of the company’s suite of game news & feature websites.  I jumped at the chance to pitch in!

Ten Ton Hammer launched a new fansite this summer – EQHammer.com – dedicated to coverage of EverQuest Next, the upcoming MMO from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). We knew that SOE Live, the annual fan-fest dedicated to SOE’s games, was our opportunity to make a splash (literally)! At SOE’s annual Pool Party, which attracted about a thousand  EverQuest fans, we filled the pools at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas with hundreds of inflatable hammers all branded with the EQHammer URL. We also handed out EQHammer t-shirts to our biggest fans, giving them access to our “Pool Party Recovery Breakfast”, which took place the morning following the pool party.

For a relatively low investment (the cost of the hammers, t-shirts, posters and some breakfast sandwiches), we were able to increase awareness of EQHammer.com among the hardest core EverQuest fans. Everyone LOVED the hammers and people were smacking each other throughout the pool party – a fun sight to see. And, fans proudly wore the EQHammer / Ten Ton Hammer shirts even after the breakfast, blanketing the site’s branding across the rest of the event.

Some more pictures and a video from the event, for your viewing pleasure…

Fans having fun with hammers: http://youtu.be/QrWgyyUpUwk
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Self-Publish, Self-Publish, Self-Publish (Casual Connect USA 2013)

I recently attended Casual Connect in San Francisco and walked away from the show with this one theme stuck in my head: self-publishing is not only possible, but a great route for many developers. It all started with Will Harbin’s kick-off talk “Self-Publish or Die” in which Harbin (Kixeye‘s CEO) encourages new developers to remain independent and bypass the publisher relationship.  Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat summed up Will’s presentation well in this article.

As the 3-day show continued, I frequently found myself listening into conversations among developers about the role of publishers with the conclusion being the same as Harbin’s. And, it felt like every developer I heard speak at the podium throughout the show referenced Will’s earlier talk and agreed with his thoughts on going-it-alone. There were plenty of publishers exhibiting at the show and recruiting new developers, but still this theme rose to the top.

Being in the game industry, but not in a game development role, I don’t have an extremely strong opinion either way. But, what I have observed is that a publisher’s role usually takes the form of marketing. And, when you can fulfill that role on your own  – leveraging internal staff to meet marketing needs or by hiring outside PR/marketing consultants (like me) on an as-needed basis around game launches and important milestones – then why wouldn’t you self-publish?

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