I spent a fair amount of the last week helping to organise an end-of-year party for local game developers. (It was all worth it as the event was great!)
When we start organising events, we never quite know how they will turn out. Our biggest concerns are always attendance and finances. Most local developers are hobbyists or working at smaller companies, so people tend to have other aspects of their lives (competing for attention) and there isn’t really the sort of industry clout that ensures support and sponsorship.
As a result, we’re entirely dependant on enthusiasm and commitment overcoming apathy and disinterest. Fortunately, the local scene is composed of a lot of people who (for one reason or another) really want to make it in the games industry. Moreover, many want to do whatever they can to support an industry presence here in Perth.
A few years ago there appeared to be sudden explosive growth in the local industry. The most visible icons were probably Interzone establishing a local studio and the first GO3 (a local expo) managing to bring a bunch of big-name international game developers to Perth.
The problem with explosive growth is that’s it’s often difficult to sustain. In following years, GO3 became more of a general entertainment expo (free and more accessible) and local game development focus shifted from AAA titles to more casual games.
I think that initially a lot of people perceived these changes as a sort of failure, but that was only really because they were comparing what we had to what we were meant to have according to explosive forecasts (rather than consistent growth). Objectively, we have around three times as many companies and community groups when compared to 2006 – this is quite an achievement!
Slow organic growth is less sexy, but usually more practical and reliable (hence, more desirable). We’re taking it pretty easy with Let’s Make Games events – getting a feel for what the local community wants and aiming for consistency.
The events have been working out well and are slowly getting bigger and better – we’ll keep organising them provided people keep coming. 😉