Indie video games panel

I moderated the indie video games panel at Genghiscon yesterday. It was my first time moderating a panel, and I feel like it went pretty well. I guess an email thread with the panellists and searching online for tips paid off.

There was a logical flow of discussion from speaker to speaker, a good pace of conversation, and we finished on time with a pretty clear wrap-up. All without relying on slide or visual aids (which I had brought on a USB stick, just in case). Of course, this was only possible due of the panellists bringing their knowledge and experience to the table (literally).

I haven’t been to Genghiscon before, but it was pretty close to what I expected: a low-key fantasy and sci-fi geek convention. It reminded me of school life in Canberra (which seems to have a disproportionate number of geeks per capita). It was nice to see people enjoy casually geeking out with their peers.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is a quick recap of the panel discussion:

What are indie games?

This question was directed at Chris McCormick, who I feel epitomises the indie game developer. At the most basic level indie games are games developed by independent developers. They also tend to be projects of passion (rather than developed for commercial interests) and more exploratory in nature (taking more risks than mainstream titles).

Describe the indie game development process.

As part of local seven person team, Rockethands, Brad Power was the perfect respondent to this question. He described a love for making games (over and above playing them) driving persistence and obsessive tinkering. Indie game developers live and breath their games.

How do you build a community around your game?

Aril Cox is the sole programmer behind Virtual World. It’s a game that wouldn’t exist without her wanting it to (and working to produce it). She noted that although mainstream companies may never make your dream game, you still can. Moreover, you will find people who want to play it and be part of making it.

How are indie games published and distributed?

We were fortunate to have Scott Reismanis (founder of the world’s largest mod and indie games website) on the panel for this question. He talked about how liberating digital distribution is for indie developers, and how mainstream companies are opting to seek publishing deals rather than buying out smaller developers.

It looks like the next games panel or workshop may be at Swancon and focus on writing for games. Send me a message if you are interested in participating. 🙂