• 03/14/02 10:51 PM
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    Alan Yu and Jason Della Rocca

    Interviews

    Myopic Rhino
    I was recently invited to have a talk with Jason Della Rocca, program director of the International Game Developers Association, and Alan Yu, Director of the Game Developers Conference. Unfortunately, it was too difficult to get them in the same place at the same time for a chat interview due to the GDC being less than a week away (where has the time gone?). However we managed it through email, and this is what they have to say.


    [b][size="3"]Who are you and what do you do?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: Alan Yu, Director of the Game Developers Conference
    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: Jason Della Rocca, Program Director of the International Game Developers Association


    [b][size="3"]What major changes have come about since last year's GDC?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: [i]Games have become mainstream, mass-market media. [/i]
    By 2005, 70% of homes will have a game console. Games are now played across all demographics. This means an increasing diversity and sophistication in games. There is literally a game for every gamer. The GDC equips developers with the skills they need to continue to be successful in this environment.

    [i]Games are ubiquitous [/i]
    Games are everywhere in our daily lives. Even when people are away from home, they still want interactive entertainment. We've covered mobile and wireless gaming in the past - this year there is a dedicated, all-day seminar.

    On Thursday 3/21, Neil Young of Electronic Arts will talk about lessons learned making Majestic.

    [i]Broadband will change the world [/i]
    With an always-on connection, consumers can demand content at any time. While this is a great opportunity, it is also a huge challenge. Game developers are here exploring and sharing ideas about how to meet this challenge.

    Online distribution, whether episodic or on-demand, changes how games are designed, programmed, scheduled and sold.

    Also on Thursday, Shin'ichi Okamoto, CTO of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. will address Sony's broadband strategy.


    [b][size="3"]This is the first year of the IGDA's Academic Summit at the GDC. What's that all about?[/size][/b]

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: What the IGDA Academic Summit is all about is academia and game developers beginning to work together for a more critical understanding of the craft of game design and games as a form of artistic expression and as cultural context.

    We are seeing more and more schools adding degree programs in game development.

    We are also seeing industry and academia partnering on things like the Games-to-Teach project at MIT, developing conceptual prototypes for the next generation of educational media for math, science and engineering.

    The IGDA's Education Committee is hosting this two-day "summit". This is the first time leading game developers and pioneering academics will come together to focus on research initiatives and relations as well as the creation of game development and game analysis curricula.


    [b][size="3"]The Wireless Game Summit is also a new addition. Has the interest always been there for something related in the previous recent years? Specifically, what aspects of wireless gaming will the summit focus on?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: The GDC has covered wireless gaming in past years, and every year, we've seen the interest grow.

    We're seeing very aggressive growth numbers for this segment - upwards of $5 billion by 2005. That's 4 out of 5 mobile users worldwide playing games.

    The Wireless Games Summit taking place here at the GDC is setting the agenda for how developers will use this new platform, how they will take advantage of this explosive market.

    In addition to the Wireless Game Summit, the GDC has lined up a series of tutorials, presentations and roundtables. Ian Baverstock of Kuju Entertainment, David Collier of PacketVideo, Greg Costikyan of Unplugged Games, Ryo Shimizu of DWANGO, and Chris Wright will be leading sessions that will cover all aspects of wireless game development, including game design and new business models


    [b][size="3"]The Real-Time Reel is another enjoyable ongoing event. Any changes from last year?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: This year, we are only accepting real-time footage. We've changed the name to reflect that. NOTHING is pre-rendered.


    [b][size="3"]In interviewing the Independent Games Festival finalists this year, they all saw the IGF as an event, rather than a contest, saying they were satisfied just being a finalist and not worried about winning or losing. It seems like this year is going to be another success for the independent development community[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: The games on display at the IGF Pavilion at the GDC are the culmination of a year-long event. It starts with the call for submissions. Once the finalists are announced, the game development community is visiting the website getting to know the games, learning from them, participating in a dialogue.

    The creativity, range, and sophistication of the games are incredible this year.

    Independent game developers are critical to the continued health of the game industry. The independent development community plays an important role in supplying new game ideas and concepts, and disseminating them throughout the larger community of developers. They are moving the industry in new directions.


    [b][size="3"]Parties are always a big thing at the GDC, how are people going to "break it down" this time around?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: We've got the usual lineup. But the parties are opportunities for more than just "breaking it down." A big part of the GDC is about gathering as a community and realizing that you as a developer are part of something larger than just you and your project. There are thousands of other developers from all around the world experiencing the same challenges and triumphs as you.

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: This year, the IGDA is hosting Group Gatherings - where developers who share a common interest can meet about that specific interest.


    [b][size="3"]The Game Developers Choice Awards has proven itself to be an honest view of the games industry. This year looks to be another winner.[/size][/b]

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: Thank you. That is a very gratifying thing to hear. We are very, very excited to be bringing the Game Developers Choice Awards to the game development community again this year. This is a time for developers to take time to recognize the art and science that they create on a daily basis, and to honor one another. The philosophy of the awards is that the best, most meaningful recognition is from one's peers.


    [b][size="3"]How is the Expo looking for this year? Stronger than last? About the same?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: Very comparable to last year. This year, like every year, the most innovative companies in the world are at the GDC Expo demonstrating the tools developers will use to create the games that will be on store shelves two to three years from now.

    Tools are so powerful now - they are really enabling developers to focus on creativity and game design. Companies are showing platforms and distribution systems that will allow players to have the highest quality content anywhere, anytime


    [b][size="3"]The GDC always has a popular volunteer program to give the average Joe without the dough a chance to check out the conference in exchange for work. How was the turnout this year?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: Stronger than ever. The GDC is lucky to have such an involved and passionate volunteer community. Conference Associates are an integral part of the conference. If you're interested in volunteering next year, check our website this fall


    [b][size="3"]The IGDA gave out 25 scholarships to students around the world in order for them to attend the GDC free of charge (not counting travel expenses). How was the turnout this year?[/size][/b]

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: We had well over a hundred applicants. This is another example of the community reaching out to academia to nurture the future of game development.


    [b][size="3"]Are there any specific events happening that you would like to shed more light upon?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: Something new we're doing this year is The Experimental Gameplay Workshop, which will explore new kinds of gameplay. This is vital to the industry. We want to foster an environment where risk taking and innovation in gameplay can be explored, and ultimately rewarded.


    [b][size="3"]The IGDA and the GDC are continuing to come closer and closer together. We have the Academic Summit, the GDCA and the continuation of the IGDA track sessions. Are there any future plans that can be spoken of? For instance, the IGDA just started a new program called Breaking In. Could that be a possible GDC addition in some way in the future?[/size][/b]

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: Although we do have several IGDA sessions at GDC tailored to university students, the Breaking In program targets high school students and is not quite appropriate for an event like GDC. In general, the IGDA will continue to meet the needs of the development community and are ever grateful for the GDC's support.


    [b][size="3"]Looking at what's in store this year, is there anything that comes immediately to mind that you might want to do next year?[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: We want to continue to meet the needs of the international game development community. As you know, game development advances at a rapid pace. The GDC will reflect this in the coming years.

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: I can see a second rev of the Academic Summit - assuming all the academics behave themselves this time around ;) The Game Developers Choice Awards is always a central focus and we'll continue to grow and evolve it.


    [b][size="3"]Thanks a lot for taking a slice out of your busy days to answer these questions guys[/size][/b]

    [b]Alan Yu[/b]: Thanks. See you at the conference.

    [b]Jason Della Rocca[/b]: I have the strength of ten men.


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