There is so much to catch up on after being away for two days. I hope you’ve enjoyed the book reviews I’ve been sharing with you – I still have a rather large stack of books to read, so there are more on the way. I have a few press releases to catch up on as well, which I will be posting shortly. This was my first year at Casual Connect, which offered dozens of very informative and entertaining seminars and panels. I had a great time at the conference and definitely plan to attend next year – hopefully for the full conference.
First, I want send a shoutout to a few of the people I met at Casual Connect and the Women In Games Leadership Development Forum. It was great to meet people from three eastern Canada studios – Alien Concepts, Big Blue Bubble and Cerebral Vortex – it’s always nice to finally meet people from the studios whose news gets posted on Village Gamer. Thank you also to Krissie Franco of Hydrogen Whiskey for all of the great introductions. There were so many Vancouver people at Casual Connect – including Ryan Arndt from Certain Sound, James Karg of Twisted Majic, consultant Adrian Crook, game producer Mart Lume, and EA talent recruiters David Chandler and Brooke Coade. There were many Canadian companies present at the conference, but unfortunately I didn’t locate them all. I would’ve liked to have had a chance to meet all those others from studios which we write about – but that will be a goal for next year!
It was also nice to finally meet Sarah Thomson from IUGO Mobile Entertainment – funny that while we are both from the Vancouver area, we finally got to meet in person at a conference in Seattle. Sarah participated in the Leadership Development Forum as part of the Marketing Casual to the Hardcore roundtable discussion along with Dell Monson of Hidden City Games, Carolyn Carnes of Flash Fire Communications and Tracy Williams from Activision. Also attending the conference were Michael Cole and Mark Baxter of Fit Brains, another great Vancouver studio. Mark had some very interesting information and views on designing casual games for women, the panel which he took part in along with Dierdra Kiai of HotHead Games, Charmie Kim from Big Park, independent designer Tara Mustapha and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games‘ Sandy Spangler. I would also like to thank my panel co-participants: Paige Meekison from No Robots Interactive, independent consultant Naomi Kawase of Vancouver, Lani Blazier of NCSoft and our moderator, Dell Monson of Seattle’s Hidden City Games.
The first exhibit table I saw at the conference belonged to the folks from Vancouver’s Yummy Interactive, who are celebrating the release of Game Shield 4.5, which now delivers DRM for Flash games (full details in my next post). Many thanks again to Kerry Corlett of Annex Pro and Brenda Bailey of Deep Fried Entertainment for a fantastic dinner at Wild Ginger on Monday evening. Annex Pro was one of the sponsors who helped make the Leadership Development Forum a success, and Brenda Bailey participated as both a moderator and panel member for the Forum. We were also joined at dinner by Dennis Chenard from Masters of Digital Media, Rochelle Grayson, and Asra Rasheed. I also had a chance to meet Tom Higgins of Unity 3D; he will be in Vancouver on Friday night for the official launch of the Vancouver Unity 3D Users’ Group (which we will be attending, and we hope to see you there, tickets are still available, get some). Last but not least, I want to thank Plimus for drawing my name in the iPod Shuffle prize draw – what a great way to end my visit to the conference!
I would be entirely remiss if I did not thank everyone from Women In Games Vancouver, Women In Games International, the IGDA Women In Games special interest group and the Casual Games Association for an incredible job of pulling the Leadership Development Forum together. General consensus about this inaugural session was that it was a great event, and everyone is looking forward to expanding the concept and repeating the Forum at next year’s Casual Connect.
A very special thank you to our sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible: AnnexPro, Big Fish Games, Pandemic, Massive Black, Ubisoft, Slant Six Games, EA, Sheppard Mullin, 31337 Recruiters, Konami, Flash Fire Communications, Hotel Max (comfortable rooms, very courteous and helpful staff) King.com and Mary-Margaret Networks. Congratulations to all of the groups, organizers, sponsors and participants for a very memorable day.