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So here’s a question: why don’t I see more of an overlap between the people at developer-facing events and the people at public-facing events?
There are many reasons for developers to not go to those events. Maybe they don’t have the resources to attend at all. Maybe someone planned the convention right before another really big one. Those are valid reasons.
Maybe they don’t like the event itself, maybe they are worried that people will not know about their game or not care about their game at all. Those are not valid reasons to skip an event. If people don’t know about your game, or don’t care, that’s something that you should be working on. If nobody is playing your game, it’s just an icon on a screen.
There is a sphere of influence that we have – both as individuals and as a scene – a sphere of people that we can reach by our own means. These developers, gamers, members of the press and fans are the people that we can rely on to be at least peripherally interested in what we make and think and aspire. They are the people you count on to spread the word when you release a game.
You owe it to your game to try and reach as many people that would like to play it. Not only will more people get to interact with your work, but those people are also more likely to be interested in your next big thing. The more people play your game, the more likely you are to be able to support yourself financially while making new games.
The people that attend public-facing events are all sorts of things, but they’ve not necessarily heard of indie games or the games we’ve made. They do not attend the Game Developers Conference or other developer-facing events. They are unlikely to have heard of the Independent Games Festival or the Game Developers Choice awards. They are people that exist outside of our spheres and the scene’s sphere, but given that they like our games enough they can structurally increase the public awareness of our studios and our games.
Obviously, there are challenges to attending events like these. But the indie scene has always felt like a place of cooperation rather than competition to me. Things as big as the Humble Bundle or as contained as Ridiculous Fishing exist because we know that we – if we work together – can achieve far more than we can on our own.
Just three days ago Vlambeer was showcasing at the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX East in Boston, which bundled the pull and resources of over fifty developers to make showcasing at an event of this size viable both financially and logistically. By collecting over sixty games it managed to draw a large portion of the tens of thousands of gamers attending in to not only check the indie games they care about, but also the games that are not on their radar. More importantly, since the MEGABOOTH is now the largest booth at PAX, people attending that know nothing of indie games get introduced to our scene in the best way possible: by playing our games and talking to their developers.
Being at a public-facing event –whether it is something as huge as PAX or something as small as a self-organized Local Multiplayer Picnic- is important. In a more structural way it is important to every indie developer out there, because attending those events allows you to help introduce people to the full spectrum of videogames. It enables people to experience tiny and experimental indie games as well as the huge and blockbuster AAA games that are showcasing there regardless of our participation or not. Showing at a public-facing event allows people that had never heard of indie games to learn that indie games exist at all and discover the variety that our scene offers.
There’s a lot to gain for all of us by reaching outside our sphere. So as an open invitation to all of you, let’s meet up at the next big one?