The Case for Building a Vibrant Game Development Community

I was downing a San miguel Strong Ice at 11am yesterday, trying to fight the urge to throw a panic attack.  I’m not normally lke this, and even my closest friends are surprised to find out that I have a very deep seated fear of public speaking.  I can’t explain how I can be overly verbose in a small, casual setting (ie 2-4 people at a table) then scared like a deer in headlights the minutes 10 or more eyes set upon me simultaneously, but that’s just the way it is.  Of course, the IGDA Kucha turned out well enough, and so did my presentation at the end, regardless of the fact that I was using index cards and still managing to flub some lines.

Anyway, for those unable to attend the event, I’ve posted my presentation here and my notes for each slide below, since it wouldn’t make much sense without them.  Videos will be up soon, but in the meantime this ought to be good enough.

Update: For all you tl:dr types, the videos are up!

Slide 1:This is not the image of a man who gives a shit about anything. So, why do I care? Why did I volunteer to be the chapter coordinator of IGDA Manila? I certainly didn’t do it for the fame or fortune, so what’s in it for me?


Slide 2:I take personal offense knowing that this is the face that Philippine society shows to the world. I don’t want to be represented by a lecherous middle aged man who makes millions singing and gyrating to horrible songs. I want the world to know we’re better than that.


Slide 3:Chip Tsao called us a nation of servants. Was he wrong? Yes. Does that stereotype still exist? Yes. Stereotypes only change when people actively prove them to be wrong, something I hope to accomplish by nurturing the local game development community.


Slide 4:So at this point you’re saying, so what? What do I care? It’s a fair question, so in the next few slides I thought I’d go over some of the reasons why supporting IGDA is actually in your own self interest.


Slide 5:A few of you are here today to learn from your fellow game developers, but the rest of you, you’re only here for the free food and drinks. It’s okay, I’m one of you. I have tupperware in the back to take leftovers home. That’s a pro tip for all you freeloaders out there.


Slide 6:So, how do we get BETTER food and drinks and an even larger venue? The answer is numbers. Companies are always looking to expand their market and mindshare. But they want to reach as many people as possible, so the more of us there are, the more willing they’ll be to open their sponsorship wallets.


Slide 7:All the artists in the house know just how awesome and expensive Wacom tablets are. This intuos 4 costs between 16 to nearly 30 thousand pesos, depending on the size. Now what if I told you it would be possible to get a discount on this hardware?


Slide 8:Ynzal recently had a 40% off promo on Photoshop, but only certain organizations were entitled to it. GDAP, the Game Developers Association of the Philippines, was one of them. So imagine the kinds of discounts we could get on games, software, hardware, if only we come together as an organization.


Slide 9:That’s a picture of the 12 foot orc statue in front of Blizzard’s office. How many of you dreamed of working at a Blizzard, an EA, an Ubisoft, a Square Enix? the people who make the games that you love to play? What would it take for them to set up studios here?


Slide 10:Well, companies that are interested in opening up offshore studios will usually measure two factors: How easy is it to do business in that country AND, is there a large enough talent pool of developers for them to hire? How does the Philippines compare against other countries in these aspects?


Slide 11:Doing business in the Philippines is about as efficient as the rube goldberg machine seen here. You’re forced to jump through all sorts of hoops and bribe government officials if you want anything done in time. Unfortunately, this is something we just can’t do anything about.


Slide12:What we CAN do however, is to grow a vibrant game developer community, like this one in Austin. An active IGDA chapter is proof to a company that there is a talent pool for them to hire from, and it can help offset the the difficulty of putting up a business here.


Slide 13:Remember the other slide that said the Philippines was 140th in a list of countries in which you can do business? Singapore’s number 1. However, companies found out that Singapore’s talent pool wasn’t deep enough, which is why you’ll find many foreigners, Filipinos included, working in these companies.


Slide 14:Now assuming we manage to convince studios to set up here, it’ll be much easier to convince organizers to hold game their development conferences in Manila. That way we won’t have to fly all the way to Singapore to listen to industry luminaries like Cevat yerlin, Peter Molyneux, Hideo Kojima, maybe even Miyamoto.


Slide15:The existence of all these companies also creates an informal knowledge cluster where developers can exchange ideas and learn from each other to make even better games. These knowledge clusters are also the breeding grounds for our own future game design geniuses, some of whom may be in this very room right now.


Slide 16:OK, so, I’ve talked about why I care about IGDA, and why it’s in your own self interest to support it. But the truth is that this goes far beyond you and me. By supporting IGDA, we can actually help make our country a better place.


Slide 17:Economist Richard Florida has written a series of bestselling books with one basic theory: Each country has a creative class, and this creative class is the driving for its economic development, pushing the country forward through sheer creative energy. We’re a part of that creative class.


Slide 18:And so are all these other sectors, representing fashion, music, web design, comics, animation, and yes, even cosplaying. They’re all a part of the creative class, and a part of increasing our economic output and making us a player on the world stage.


Slide 19:For comparison, Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh, which is ranked 110th in ease of doing business. But I did a google search on Dhaka cosplayers and came up empty, and by that measure I think we’re far ahead of them in terms of having a thriving creative class.


Slide 20:I’d like to leave you with this thought. What we do matters. By showing up at IGDA events and participating in the forums you’re doing 3 things: making me happy, satisfying your own self interests, and helping out your country. And since all you really have to do is give some of your time, I think that’s a pretty good deal.

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4 Comments to “The Case for Building a Vibrant Game Development Community”

  1. the freeloader tip is so you, friend. but srsly, i hope the talk went well and here’s hoping that it would inspire a lot of people to join in your crusade. 🙂

  2. Haha medyo nagfail nga ako sa freeloading friend. I was so tired after the event I forgot to take some palabok home. Konting chips lang na freeload ko. 😛

  3. Yours was my favorite presentation – and you didn’t seem nervous at all. Your notes (or the beer) must’ve really helped 😉

  4. Haha thanks. I worked on that for basically a month, developing the idea, cutting it down to the most important ideas, then the last two days were alternately pacing throughout my house and practicing my delivery.

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