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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Recent VentureFizz Posts – Proletariat, Indie Game Collective, and more!

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Throughout 2013, I’ve contributed blog content to VentureFizz.com to highlight the Boston video game development community. It has been a fun side project, as I’ve had the opportunity to learn even more about a community that I love. I’ve highlighted contributed content on my blog in the past, but realized recently that I hadn’t linked over to some of my more recent contributions. Below are a few favorites!

A Few Minutes with Seth Sivak, CEO of ‘World Zombination’ Creator, Proletariat

Game Devs Join Forces in Cambridge with “Indie Game Collective” 

Indie Games Shine at Boston FIG

Moving to Mobile Games: A Q&A with Demiurge Studios’ CEO Albert Reed

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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MassDiGI Paving the Way for Game Development Students (VentureFizz)

As mentioned in a previous post, I was recently asked to help contribute to the growth of VentureFizz.com’s coverage of the New England game development scene. In my latest post, I’ve taken the opportunity to talk about MassDiGI and all of the great work from the students in MassDiGI’s 2013 Summer Innovation Program.  Check out “MassDiGI Paving the Way for Game Development Students”  to learn more about how the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute is laying the foundation for students to succeed in the world of games, while engaging local game executives and developers through a mentorship program.

Good luck to the ’13 Summer Innovation Program participants, both with their current games and in future endeavors!

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PocketGamer.biz – PC Game vs. Mobile Game Marketing…

Carter Dotson, senior writer at 148Apps.com which was recently acquired by Steel Media and PocketGamer.biz, reached out to me  to ask about the differences between marketing for PC games vs. mobile games. Boy, are there differences!!! The industry has changed so much just in the past few years and, as a result, marketers are having to re-think strategies across the board, particularly for mobile. What worked for PC and console, won’t necessarily work for mobile games. Check out Carter’s PocketGamer.biz article that includes some insight into the magic bullets with mobile marketing including interviews with Out of the Park Developments, Devolver Digital, and White Whale Games (and me!). Check it out here. 

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Women in the MA Game Industry – 2/28

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Games & Entertainment Circle has a great event coming up on February 28th, “Women in the MA Game Industry: A Discussion of Diversity, Challenges and Progress.” The line-up is stellar with Patricia Resende of Mass High Tech (moderator), Courtney Stanton (Women in Games Boston), Michelle Yaiser (Adobe), Jen Groff (MIT Learning Games Network), Fiona Cherbak (Interactive Selection, Boston Festival of Indie Games) and Vicky Wu Davis (Adalia, FrogHop). Register here: http://womeningames.eventbrite.com – it’s free!