The first Vancouver International Game Summit took place May 3-4, 2007 at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. The event, dedicated to global perspectives on developing games for the next generation of consoles, targeted an audience of programmers, artists, game designers, producers, and studio leads.
Sponsored largely by Electronic Arts and followed by Ernst & Young, Disney Interactive Studios, and Microsoft, the event was also partnered with New Media BC and the International Game Developers Association. The Casual Games Association announced a surprise industry networking party for the first night of the Summit.
Overall, the Summit’s topics addressed the current state of game industry. “What it’s really time for is to put ourselves forward as professionals. This is not a garage industry anymore, we’re an industry of professionals,” stated Douglas Tronsgard, CEO of Next Level Games, during a panel on workforce optimization headed up by International Game Developers Association’s Executive Director Jason Della Rocca.
With opening remarks were representatives from Vancouver media industry, the Executive Director of Masters of Digital Media Program at the Great Northern Way Campus, Dr. Gerri Sinclair, and Lynda Brown, the President of New Media BC.
Keynotes included the Vice President of Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Group, Mark Relph, the Founder of Wideload Games, Alexander Seropian, and the Senior Vice President and Group General Manager for EA Canada, Rory Armes. Amongst its keynotes, the Summit held afternoon interactive workshops and three panel tracks: Management, Technology, and Design.
The Design Track featured David Elton (Senior Designer, EA), Sean Smillie (Designer, Action Pants), Jonathan Dowdeswell (Producer, Relic Entertainment), and Clay Jensen (Creative Director, EA Black Box) on effective pre-production. They discussed methods that can be used to visualize and test concepts before a studio spends the bulk of their title budget.
In the Management Track, Neal Clarance from Ernst & Young spoke alongside Howard Donaldson from Propaganda Games, Vlad Ceraldi from Hothead Games, and Steven Hnatiuk from Yaletown Venture Partners with insights and personal takes on how to raise capital and negotiate with various models of publishing and distribution. Each game development project has to negotiate for financing on an individual basis, the panel agreed.
Agile game development came up as a key topic for the Technology Track. Tarrnie Williams from Relic Entertainment, Dan Irish from Three Wave Software, Phillipe Kruchten from the University of British Columbia, and Steve Adolph from WSA Consulting spoke to new approaches in team structure and the experience of using agile methodology during the development cycle. The technique relates to with iterative design and current strides toward managing increasingly large development teams. However, agile development can also be applied to small development teams and steps in user-generated content, which is supported by companies such as Microsoft.