I finally attended my first ever Gamecity in 2010, the festival’s fifth year. So it took four years to get there, but it was everything I expected it to be. However, it seems that it wasn’t everything the organisers expected it to be. In the closing speech which is traditionally an industry keynote, the festival director Ian Simons gave an insight into the struggles the festival is having to gain credibility within the industry.
This is a problem so cruel for the festival that the irony is overwhelming. The festival has been created to celebrate the industry, to applaud the creative geniuses behind games loved by millions, to help us appreciate gaming as an artform, to better understand its place in our culture and to discuss its social impact. But the very industry that it is celebrating doesn’t get it! The videogames industry, which loathes itself so much that it insists on being called the interactive entertainment industry, has missed the point completely.
Ian Simons was almost calling out that without the support of the videogames industry, there isn’t much of a festival and that the festival or the industry needs to bend to meet in the middle.
I’d say take a year off from pleasing a blinkered industry. Maybe better to ignore than include, that will guarantee that they’ll be begging to be involved. Next year, make it about the rich history of videogames. Some suggested talk titles would be:
- Jeff Minter: The Man, The Legend, The Llamas
- Angry Birds: The Flicking Phenomenon
- Codemasters Retrospective
- Outrun: The Game That Changed Soundtracks
- Bedroom Coding: Then and Now
- A screening of The King of Kong, and other classic videogame films
- The Book of the Game: How Players Guide are written
I loved the videogames festival and I think that it definitely has its place. There is such a wealth of games, fans and history that even without industry support or input it can continue its greatness.