Recently appointed Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences President Martin Rae tells Gamasutra the D.I.C.E.-organizing body plans to offer a membership option for individual developers "in the next six months."
"There's no question we're going to work toward defining and providing more benefits to individual members," Rae said in an interview ahead of this week's D.I.C.E. game executive conference in Las Vegas, which Gamasutra will be covering in depth.
"As digital distribution and iPhone development is becoming easier to take advantage of, there's a lot of individual developers that we would like as members of the academy, so we're looking at that in a big way," he continued. "We don't have a defined set plan, but we will within the next six months."
In an earlier interview with Gamasutra just after his appointment as AIAS President last October, Rae hinted at
some of the potential benefits he'd like the organization to offer small and independent developers.
"Where do [small developers] go for group plan insurance?" he said at that time. "Where do they go for educational opportunities? Where do they go for speaker series that could be sponsored that would provide them access to things that the AIAS could provide that they can't get anywhere else?"
"A lot of other professional organizations do that, I think we could add some things in that respect that would really help members," he said.
Membership in the Academy, which is one of several game industry trade bodies, alongside the E3-organizing ESA and the IGDA developer organization, is currently focused around larger American publishers. But Rae said he's focused on working to bring smaller and international publishers under the organization's umbrella in the coming year.
"The Academy represents the industry from a recognition perspective and an awards perspective, so as the industry changes, we want those folks to have a seat at the table and have a voice in the Academy," he said.
Rae, who formerly ran Boss Game Studios and took over
from longtime AIAS head Joseph Olin, noted that visibility for the academy's Interactive Achievement Awards will be key in attracting these kinds of companies to the fold.
He was enthusiastic that a new media partnership with G4
-- which includes a live webcast of the awards ceremony Thursday night followed by an edited cable broadcast on Saturday -- would be helpful in that regard. He also pointed out that specially edited versions of the awards ceremony would be cut together for distribution on the various console download networks, expanding the awards' reach even further.
But beyond the flurry of activity surrounding D.I.C.E. and the awards this week, Rae said he hopes he can build the academy into something that has a more permanent presence in the industry throughout the year.
"Because D.I.C.E. and [the AIAS Awards] are in the same week ... the energy focused in a three month period is pretty intense," he said. "I think the challenge is going to be to expand it in ways so that energy can get focused year round, rather than a two or three month time period."