So here we are, one year on, one year older, one year wiser? Hopefully. But what have the Organising Committee and the chapter been up to over the past year?
When Aphra asked me to write this article I thought back over the various things the IGDA Ireland Chapter and its Organising Committee had participated in and accomplished in 2004 – and with a growing sense of wonderment and satisfaction, I realised that my expectations in setting up the chapter had long ago been surpassed. Actually, scratch that – they were blown out of the water!
When I first thought of the idea and started talking about it with the few Irish games developers I knew, we had no idea that Gamedevelopers.ie was already under way and about to make its online debut. The idea lay dormant for another three or four months, as I didn’t think there was a sufficiently large or vibrant enough community to galvanise and support our efforts. As well as this, the development community within Ireland seemed largely to be aspirational – and if that was the case who would benefit from setting up a Chapter and whatever fruits our labours would bear?
Within a few months of Gamedevelopers.ie being launched, it was obvious that the first assumption was completely wrong. The community may be largely aspirational and geographically dispersed, but it was definitely there and vibrant, and now it had a focus. The second assumption had likewise proved erroneous, as having spoken with EI and the IDA, I could see there was sufficient interest – not to mention, more development companies than was first apparent – to merit at least attempting to set up a Chapter. The final straw came one day while browsing the chapter forums on the main IGDA site and coming across the new Ireland thread – where one of the site admins mentioned there were 190 Irish members of the IGDA! I mailed some of the people involved in the industry in Ireland, choosing those I thought would make the most difference (or have the most influence), and the ball was well and truly rolling.
And so the first IGDA Ireland Organising Committee meeting took place in O’Neills in Pearse Street (yes, it’s a pub!) in early November 2004, and we’ve managed to meet almost every month since in a conference room in the Digital Depot courtesy of the Digital Hub.
Most chapters have a strong social element to them and only a secondary lobbying function. Given the regularity of the Gamedevelopers.ie Shindigs, it was decided early on that the Irish chapter would focus more on the lobbying aspect of things, and try to both stimulate and educate the various bodies involved in forming and implementing policy that most affected game makers.
We launched the chapter in January with a talk & workshop from Ernest Adams, followed that up with a Sony evening in April on the PSP and on 3rd party developer relations.
But I personally think our biggest success was organising & hosting Awakenings 2004 – Ireland’s first ever game development conference. The conference which was sponsored by all the main semi-state funding bodies on the island, saw industry legend Graham Devine (Ensemble Studios), Markus Maki (Remedy), Chris Van Der Kuyl (Vis) and Jason Della Rocca (IGDA) travel over to speak at it. The event, hosted in the Northwest Institute of Further & Higher Education in Derry, got widespread national & international media coverage and raised awareness among the wider industry of the nascent indigenous industry. In the end, we saw 233 people take up places at the conference out of a possible 250 – and both Graham Devine and Markus Maki described it as the best organised conference they had ever been at! Not bad when you consider the amount of GDCs, E3s, etc. these guys have been to over the years – and especially so given that it was our first… Much of the credit for the outstanding success of Awakenings goes to my Torc colleague, Wendy Gibbons and to Robbie Hegarty of NWIFHE.
Awakenings 2004 – Photo courtesy of the Derry Journal. Can you name them all?? hint – most of the keynote speakers are present.
This year we are planning a follow up to the 2004 report, ongoing consultation with government, universities and regional funding bodies, and we are currently planning Awakenings for the next three years. We are also expanding the organising committee in an effort to widen our role, so expect an announcement on this soon.
Many thanks are due the members of the organising committee who give generously of their time, contacts and other resources to plan, organise and run these events on top of already ridiculously busy schedules. In no particular order, I would like to thank Dylan Collins (Demonware), Peter Mee (Meedja), Steve Collins (Havok), Wendy Gibbons (Torc Interactive), Aphra Kerr (University of Ulster) and Mike Griffin (Kapooki Games). I would also like to thank Shane Whelan (Ballyfermot College) who had to resign his committee post late in the year due to his other commitments, but who was there at the off and helped provide some of the momentum the IGDA now enjoys in Ireland.
Thanks are of course also due to the many volunteers who helped out throughout the last year, not least of which are, Dave Kearney, Ian Hannigan, Jamie McCormick& the indefatigable Ronny Southwood.
Thanks also to the many sponsors who helped make the various events the successes they were.
The Year in Brief
1.Ernest Adams talk & workshop
2.Sony PSP & Developer Relations talk
3. Contribution to Forfàs electronic games report
4. Ongoing consultation with IDA & EI – including meeting with potential IDA clients (e.g. DC Studios)
5. Member of committee on Dare to be Digital (ROI) 2004 & 2005
6. Member of committee on Dare to be Digital (NI) 2005
7. Member of committee on judging panel of Digital Media Awards 2005
8. Member of committee on Game Developer Choice Awards 2005
9. Member of committee on IGDA Production SIG
10. Consultation on Ireland’s first games programming degree course in Carlow
11. Participation in the Shindigs and in day-to-day activities of Gamedevelopers.ie
12. Ireland’s first ever games conference, Awakenings ‘04
13. Academics round table & Semi-State Funding bodies at Awakenings
14. Resources on IGDA Ireland website (currently being integrated with the revamped GD)
15. Education Brochure (ongoing)
•Irish Independent article on Irish games industry in December 2004
•Chapter launch covered in The Irish Times
•Appearance on RTE’s Prime Time on violence in video games
•Silicon Republic articles on games industry in Ireland
•Hollywood Reporter article on government support for the industry
•Participation in Talk Digital in Digital Hub
•Full page ad in Digital Media Directory 2005
•Spoke at Digital Media Conference 2005
• Awakenings coverage on BBC Radio Foyle, BBC Northern Ireland, Derry Journal, Belfast Telegraph, Silicon Republic, Gamasutra.com, Gamesindustry.biz, IGDA.org and Irish Times
• Representative on Prime Time piece on games and violence, Dec. 05