From the evening of September 20 to the late afternoon of September 22, it was my great pleasure to attend the Austin Game Conference in (where else?) Austin, Texas. The AGC was founded in 2003 and ran each year until 2012, when it went on hiatus until its relaunch this year.
The conference attracted 750 attendees to hear 80 speakers in five tracks and attend several “special events” over the course of the three days. There was also a modest-size expo with about 30 exhibitors, including Intel, IBM SoftLayer and IBM Cloud, Epic Games, Electronic Arts, Aspyr, several institutions of higher learning, the IGDA-Dallas, and GameDev.net.
Networking with the very experienced and knowledgeable developers and designers, both presenters and attendees, was extremely easy. Many, perhaps most, of those present would consider themselves “indie” producers, so there was a lot of sharing going on. The atmosphere was much like The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn: lots of energy.
On the night before the conference itself opened, Intel sponsored a DemoFest-like event, the Game Developer Showcase (also dubbed the “Intel Buzz Workshop” after similar events Intel sponsors at other conferences). Ten selected game developers presented games they are in the process of preparing for launch, using trailer videos and live demonstrations later that evening and during the conference. The Showcase was streamed live, so you can get a taste of what this was like by watching a video recording. (You will need to scrub to the introduction at 00:19:28; you can skip over the preliminaries to the presentations themselves at about 00:33:00. There is a brief period at the first presentation where the speaker’s microphone was not working, but be patient.)
What did I learn?
It was a very full two days, most of which I spent either in the VR/AR track or in the expo. Between my reporter’s notebook and a Livescribe journal, I captured 48 pages of notes, plus about 10 hours of recorded audio. This article is only going to present a few of the highlights. I will try to give you enough information here that if you have an instructional design challenge that you think could be met with a game, you can just jump in and try to build that game—it won’t cost you anything, just your time. But keep it simple for your first attempt! As you will see, “just jump in” only applies to games. Virtual reality is another story entirely, at least for now.
So let’s get started!