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Is IGDA Membership Worth It?
by Philip Athans on 11/14/11 11:26:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I’ve been a member of the International Game Developers Association for almost a year now, and for the first several months, I freely admit, I pretty much ignored it. I scanned the occasional email, didn’t go to at least two local get-togethers, and so on. Finally I realized, hey, wait, I did pay for this, and surely I’m missing out on something: networking opportunities, fresh knowledge, professional contacts, and even actual paid consulting work. I need more of all those things, so I decided to make the IGDA a “to do list item.”

I went on the web site and updated my profile—which was already sadly out of date. But first of all, every time I go to log on I have to reset my password. Is this something I’m doing wrong? I haven’t tried to contact anyone at the organization for help. This might require only some simple fix, and I guess I could add that to my to do list. But still, it feels like a bad sign.

Once logged in, a couple months ago, I went on this little spree of joining groups. So far I have communicated in a meaningful way with one of the eight groups I joined, and “meaningful” may be stretching it. I posted in a discussion thread entitled “Where is Everybody?” and heard from three other people, one of whom I’d met at E3. They were very nice, but served mostly to point out that that group was pretty much inactive.

This morning I logged back on (changing my password again and still unable to change my profile photo) and ran through those eight groups. The most recent activity of the eight was from this past August 27th. One other had some activity—some new blog post, at least—in August of this year. Two more had some activity (though very little) in 2011: January and June. One has been inactive since May of 2010 an another since August of 2009. The last two were completely blank.

The health insurance isn’t available in the state in which I live.

I know that organizations like this are only as valuable as the effort you put in, and truth be told I could, conceivably, take on a leadership role in one of these groups, but what about the other seven?

And if I do spend valuable time and effort volunteering, is there anyone out there who would listen?

This post might sound like a blanket criticism of the IGDA, but I truly don’t mean it to be. I’m sincerely asking the question, in an entirely non-rhetorical way: Is it worth it?


—Philip Athans

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Dave Weinstein
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There are two ways to look at membership. One is as a simple purchase value -- do I personally get benefits that are worth the membership fee. The second is whether or not the activities of the organization are worth funding.

I've maintained my membership in the IGDA, despite having left the game industry in 2005, because I believe that what it is doing for the industry as a whole is worth the money. Clearly, I don't derive any direct benefits from my membership dues.

I think the Quality of Life and Crediting Standards efforts have been extremely important to the industry -- I just hope that someday the industry definition of "Quality of Life" isn't "the reason most developers leave the industry". But if the IGDA isn't going to be there to fight that fight, there isn't anyone left to do it. Solving the problem for the industry is very hard, solving it for the individual is very easy -- you leave.

And the IGDA has been filing briefs fighting attempts to push games outside the protections of the First Ammendent for as long as that legislation has been around. While you can't point to any given brief and judge the impact it had, again, I think it was important that developers were arguing for the right to protected expression. Certainly, had the Supreme Court ruled the other way, the results would have been destructive to the industry.

Now, this is not to say that the IGDA hasn't made its share of mistakes. The IGDA once had an active and useful set of forums, but when the web site was redone, performance was so bad that they died off, and never returned. And there have been cases where IGDA Board Members were actively opposing some of the efforts I just praised (a problem which at least is open to correction by the membership). And, bluntly, I think it was a shame that the Board had to be dragged into dealing with the Tim Langdell issues by the membership, rather than acting to clean up the mess on its own. But I think the organization has learned from those mistakes.

And that's why, after nearly 7 years out of the industry, I still send my money in each year.

Gordon Bellamy
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Hi Philip, You probably would have enjoyed the IGDA Summit in Seattle this summer,

or the community of your writing peers here @!forum/wsig-main

And we are always looking for great volunteers , especially up in Seattle but also at most of the over 100 chapters around the world.

There will also be mentoring opportunities with IGDA Scholars 2012 and of course we hope you jump in with the rest of the world for Global Game Jam the last weekend of January.

Feel free to contact me directly @ twitter:gordonbellamy ; skype:gordonbellamy , it'd be great to have you contribute to the community. And thank you for asking the question.

Gordon Bellamy

Executive Director, IGDA