In the wake of Gamer Gate and the Assassin’s Creed Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection launch fiascoes, I could go on about what’s wrong with the gaming industry and its community. However, earlier this week, I attended an event that renewed my faith in the gaming world: the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS). It’s one of the biggest event of its kind in North America and a full two days for members of the industry to meet, mingle and network. I met great people, attended interesting conferences and got a better understanding about the ever evolving world of video games.
Here are 5 key things I learned at MIGS 14:
1 – All games are games
Facebook, mobile, console, PC, indie, AAA, big, small and everything in between: all types of games and those who make them were welcomed at MIGS. Why? Because they are all video games. With just quick sweep of the show floor and a glance at the conference schedule, I immediately noticed that every type of studio and developer were partaking in MIGS.
2 – Games are a team effort
Riot Games’ Brandon Beck made a key statement during his opening keynote: the primary value of a game company isn’t in a secret recipe to make successful game, it’s in its team. Innovation and creativity comes from people. And what would be any game without players to enjoy it? Many conferences were about how to keep communication flowing, not just between team members, but with your audience. In this age of social media and crowdfunding, it’s easy to reach out to gamers. Take the good and the bad and learn from it all. Which brings me to my next point.
3 – Haters gonna hate
Even if you don’t eat spam and never feed the trolls, you will face haters. They are on Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Youtube, forums, in comment sections, etc. We know it’s hard not to take it personally and that it will always hurt; after all, they are attacking the fruits of your labour. Short of going completely offline (which is a stupid thing to do), managing hate and haters is a key skill to master. Spearhead Games’ Simon Darveau put it best during a panel on social media: “Haters are sad lovers”. In order for someone to hate something, they must care about it. They actually want you to succeed but don’t really know how to express it. Somewhere in the vile comments, you’ll find constructive criticism. Sometimes, just starting a dialogue with haters will make both party realize that we are all human here and that no one is truly faceless. Haters are gonna hate, but you don’t have to.
4 – Influencers are the new PR
Steve Escalante of Versus Evil said it best during his talk on marketing and promoting indie games: the modern PR challenge is touching base with influencers. The internet famous should be part of any PR strategy along with press releases and reaching out to media outlets. Let’s players, Youtubers, streamers, bloggers… Find gamers with a large following that you know would enjoy the type of game you made and get the ball rolling.
5 – Learn from each other’s successes and mistakes
It’s important to learn from each other’s experiences and to willingly share knowledge for the betterment of games and the industry. Hence the raison d’être of MIGS: a place where industry members can exchange knowledge with their peers. It’s important to learn not just from each other’s successes, but the mistakes as well. Daniel Menard of Double Stallion Games elaborated on the dangers of the survivor bias during his talk on the psychology of game development. By only looking at successes, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Only the best and lucky make it. What about those who don’t? What is it that made them fail compared to those who succeeded? Learn from failures, take acceptable risks, manage damage, make your own luck and share your experiences with the community.
BONUS – Come in, we’re hiring!
One thing MIGS does well is an open floor job fair to meet the hiring needs of local studios. Students and professionals were invited to bring copies of their resumes and meet with HR reps. Many studios are hiring and constantly looking for new talent: Ubisoft, Eidos, Ludia, Frima and more. If you’re interested, you can look for job posting on the studios’ websites or on Espresso Jobs.