Thanks to everyone for turning out in great numbers to the annual birthday event for gamedevelopers.ie. Over sixty people turned up last Thurs evening to DIT on Kevin Street where we were hosted this year by the School of Computing and in particular a big thank you to Bryan Duggan and his head of school for organising the venue and supplying the food and drink for the crowd.
The event began with a few words of welcome from Bryan and then Aphra Kerr from gd.ie and NUI Maynooth gave a potted history of gd.ie. She then introduced the panel of speakers which included Peter Lynch from Eirplay Games, Steve Collins from TCD, Claire Fitch from fitch sounds and Tony Kelly from Demonware. Each speaker gave a brief presentation on their experience of the Irish games industry for the past five years and where they think it is going. We then opened it up to questions from the floor.
There was quite some discussion about the need to be more positive, the fact that companies come and go in all industries and the fact that we have had successes as well as failures on the past five years. New platforms like the iTouch were discussed and the potential for small companies with seed funding to release really innovative games. Finally, there was a discussion about the skills needed to enter the games industry and people seemed to agree that a good degree in computer science and some specialist training or experience were required for the more technical roles in a computer games or middleware company. For mobile games and other areas an ability to draw combined with training was important. All agreed that qualifications were increasingly important.
The discussion was followed by the gd.ie annual awards. This year four awards were given out by gd.ie to members of the community who have contributed both to gd.ie and the wider Irish games community over the past year.
The nominees for newbie 08 were:
Martin Collins – a student on the CGHND in Ballyfermot who is interested in character and level design and concept art – joined Oct 07.
Matthew – studying Media (which includes some games development) at Fermanagh College in Enniskillen and who hopes to get into the industry as a level designer – joined March 07.
Jediboy – lecturer in Auckland, New Zealand – joined April 2005.
We made a decision that new sign ups are not eligible for the newbie award. The winner this year was Matthew, who because of exams could not be with us. An award will be in the post to him soon.
The nominees for stamina were Peter B, Demonware who joined in April 2004, Kyotokid, Bizarre, Liverpool who joined in February 2004, Ian Hannigan, Derby who joined in June 2003 and Feral who jointed in December 2003. The first three nominees are now working in the UK in the games industry, although Peter B is moving to Demonware in a couple of weeks.
The stamina award goes to someone who has been around for a long time, is maintaining a high level of posts and is contributing to the Irish games scene. This year it went to Peter B who has posted and contributed to the boards continuously since he joined in April 2004, returned to Ireland regularly to attend shindigs and this year was involved in the judging panel for the XNA challenge in Tipperary Institute. He is currently moving from Sega in the UK to work with Demonware and will I believe be working between Vancouver and Dublin.
The stamina award can only be won once so Peter now joins our prestigious hall of fame along with Peter McNally (Havok), Damian Furlong (Rebellion), Dave Kearney (IVT) and David McGovern (PopCap).
The salmon of knowledge award goes to someone who contributes highly informative posts to the forums and frequently answers questions posted on the boards. They give of their knowledge freely to help younger members of the boards and those starting out in the industry.
This year the nominees were stevec64, jediboy and Ronan Hayes. The winner this year was stevec64 who is actually Steve Collins, lecturer in games from TCD and founding member of Havok. Anyone who knows Steve will know of his enthusiasm for the games industry but also his willingness to share this knowledge and experience with others. A deserving winner.
Finally, the overall person/group of the year award goes to a person or group, who has contributed to the development of the Irish games scene during 2008. This year the nominees were Microsoft Ireland for their role in the development of the TCD games course, running XNA events and sponsoring the XNA games competition in Tipperary Institute, Phil Bourke, lecturer in Tipperary Institute for his work on Robocode and the XNA games competition and encouraging students to study games and finally Michael El Baki, from the mobile and middleware games company Bit Rabbit.
The winner with the most nominations on the forums was Michael el Baki. Michael has been busy developing his company this year and they released a middleware product RabbitFactory and of course new games like Platypus. Michael’s company is relatively new but it is great to see him go from strength to strength but still also continue to contribute to gd.ie and various games courses through talks and seminars. Unfortunately Michael could not be there to pick up his award but he will no doubt be on the forums where people can congratulate him and his award is in the post.
Everyone then moved to The Bleeding Horse where people continued to chat and network until the small hours.
Thanks again to DIT, to Jamie McCormick for helping with the press contacts and organization, and to all those behind the scenes at gd.ie – Dave, Tony, Damian, Simon, Ronny – for moderating on the forums and sorting out the technical side of things – it wouldn’t happen without their willingness to volunteer time and expertise.
See full set of pictures at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/skooter500/GamedevelopersIeBirthday
Discuss the event on the forums at http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4886