Mingling with the International Game Developers Association

In March I and six other candidates were elected to the Board of Directors of the International Game Developers’ Los Angeles Chapter, and last Wednesday we held our first event, a meet-and-greet held in conjunction with Recess LA at Rush Street in Culver City, California. Recess LA is a free-to-attend art, board game and play event that bringing creatives, gamers and spectators together for a night of mingling, chatter, music, activities and games. The event was a big success: everyone had a good time in addition to an opportunity to share ideas for additional events with the new IGDA-LA Board. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell those of you who are unfamiliar with the International Game Developers Association, a little bit about the organization.

The IGDA is a U.S.-based 501(c)6 non-profit professional association that exists as a global network of collaborative projects and communities comprised of over 12,000 individuals from all fields of game development – from programmers and producers to designers, writers, artists, and testers.

Our mission statement is “To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.”

We bring together developers at key industry conferences, in over 90 chapters around the world and in Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to improve their lives and their craft. We advocate on behalf of our membership to ensure quality of life, perpetuation of our craft and preparing the next generation of developers.

Aside from bringing game developers together, the IGDA focuses on the following issues present in the game development industry:

  • Quality of life: making the process of game development easier and more pleasant for everyone.
  • Diversity: ensuring that people from a wide range of backgrounds and their needs are represented in the game development industry
  • Anti-Censorship: recognizing games as an art form, and as a medium of expression
  • Business and Legal Issues: empowering the development community with business knowledge and advocating for developers
  • Student and Academic Relations: setting curriculum guidelines, enhancing collaboration between industry and academia and providing guidance to students wanting a career in games

The IGDA was founded in 1994 by game designer Ernest W. Adams and was initially known as the Computer Game Developers Association (CGDA). Modeled after the Association for Computing Machinery, Ernest envisioned the organization to support the careers and interests of individual developers, as opposed to being a trade organization, or an advocacy group for companies.

Kate Edwards is the current Executive Director of the IGDA, and she has focused especially on diversity and inclusion issues, such as working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to deal with the on-line harassment of developers.  Another of her areas of focus has been in welcoming new IGDA chapters in cities around the globe. Chapters are intended to provide an informal way to connect game developers within local communities. They provide forums, for example, for discussions on current issues in the computer gaming industry and demos of the latest games.

You can learn more about our own Los Angeles Chapter Board at http://www.igda.org/group/LosAngeles, and if you are interested in partnering or volunteering with us, please Contact us at la@igda.org. We want to hear from you!

 

 

Spaceships, Robots, and Zombies at the USC GamePipe Lab Spring 17 Showcase

Last Wednesday I attended the University of Southern California’s GamePipe Lab’s semi-annual Showcase held at the Egg Building just outside the university’s Los Angeles campus, and as always I was impressed by the exceptional work of some of the best and brightest game development students in the country.

For USC Viterbi School of Engineering Professor Mike Zyda and his students in the USC Games program, the Spring 2017 Showcase event is an opportunity to show off a school year’s worth of collaboration, creativity and computer design. It’s also the students’ introduction to a host of industry scouts who may purchase and publish the games, as well as hire program graduates to design, program, and produce the games of the future. I make an effort to attend Showcase every six months to help me set aspirations for my own students at The Los Angeles Film School.

There were so many great games to play, that it is a shame that there was only time for me to play two.

Arkology

Arkology is a virtual reality real-time strategy game developed as part of virtual reality research at the University of Southern California. The player controls the game using motion control.  At first I had difficulty understanding how to move the units using my virtual reality “hands”, but one I learned to stop over-thinking user interface, I realized how intuitive and simple the controls actually were.

From the Operations Room in the heart of the Ark, the player must strategize, command, and lead his forces to preserve what may be the last of humanity.  As soon as the player becomes familiar with the controls, the enemy begins to attack,  The player is then forced to activate the experimental warp drive to preserve the Ark, but with the premature activation of experimental tech,  the player and the crew of the Ark find themselves in uncharted space.

I found that I really enjoyed how virtual reality immersed me in what was a cross between a board game and a real-time strategy game.  Developed by a six-person team led by Powen Yao, this is a game that I would pick up just to show off my virtual reality gear.

BoltCraft

BoltCraft is a cooperative, wave-based, third-person action game where players are members of the Bolton Collective in a fight for a desolated Earth’s resources against the planet’s robotic overlords. Developed by an 11-person team lead by Maison Lietzke and Martha Monica with artistic collaboration with the Laguna College of Art & Design., BoltCraft allows players to customize their robot’s abilities and appearance and deploy helpful minions to defend themselves and their team against an onslaught of enemies.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any screenshots of this game, so you’ll have to take my word fo it that I had fun maneuvering my robot through an urban environment and selecting different abilities and fortification to defend my area against the overlords attempting to take control of it.

As always, the creativity and technical prowess of the USC Games students was impressive, and it was exciting to see how these kids are bending our reality to create a new gaming future.