Exception made for the debilitating weather, the Italian summer never really offered aspiring developers much to do. For the past three years, though, the team behind Game Happens tried to set the record straight; impressively managing to do so!
I first attended the event in 2015. That’s the year I met Michelle Westerlaken and learned a bit more about ACI. We’ll return to Villa Bombrini for the 2017 edition of Game Happens from June 23th to June 24th. In the meantime, we asked the guys who made it possible a handful of questions. Here’s what they told us!
“We Offer Homemade but High Quality Content”
For this interview, we didn’t want the usual, run-of-the-mill, set of prepackaged answers. We could have used the event’s official press-kit and be done with it all in less than five minutes. Instead, the idea became asking these guys for a personal opinion. We spoke of their efforts, their fears, their goals, and the future. Our first question was about the hidden mechanisms behind Game Happens.
The perfect set of guests is perhaps the most important part of any successful endeavor. Not only that: it is also the most cumbersome to get right. “We select people who are likely to be on the same page”, the team explains. “We try to look at our proposed schedule as a single living being, something that can feel coherent”. Throughout its life, the festival hosted scholars, professors, developers, and innovators.
This year, Game Happens is all about design, performing arts, technology, and independent development. International guests – most of whom will hold their own panels – include VR indie developer Landia Egal, Simon Wilkinson, and award-winning writer Rhianna Pratchett. A showcase area for indie titles has also been put together, with more than 20 games and developers attending the show.
There’s another detail that makes Game Happens different from your average gaming event: it’s scope. Nothing there screams “buy me”, there’s no ear-piercing music, no t-shirts, no scantly-dressed booth babes, nothing of the sort at all.
The event is the answer to a question the organizers would often hear: “how do I work in the gaming industry?”. Volunteers come together, speakers share their knowledge, and people build up a network. The past editions asked for silence during the lectures, but offered plenty of time to discuss the results afterwards. “You end up finding new friends, new leads for work, new chances for learning”.
Building Game Happens: Mostly Sweat… With a Chance for Happiness!
Planning an event of this magnitude is no easy feat. There’s a small army of volunteers and associates lurking in the shadows. They quite literally hide behind the drapes, keeping an eye out and making sure that everything goes well. Our next question was all about that! The volunteers; not the drapes!
“We’re a tiny team and we all work for free, which is a problem for everybody”. Bringing Game Happens into this world is a lot of hard work, both physically and psychologically. “Our guys move chairs, pull tables, build stages, and are in charge of all logistics. In the future, we hope for it to become a proper job; possibly before the pressure forces us to give up”.
Just like many other no-profit associations, the guys mostly rely on external support to cover expenses and find the manpower for their projects. Local institutions play their part, but it’s the volunteers who pull most of the weight. “There’s a certain sense of responsibility”, says one of the people we interviewed. “Those who care about what we do spend months helping us”.
Asking what kept them going until today returned a somewhat romantic answer. We actually liked it so much that we decided to translate it and simply copy it in full. “We wouldn’t want to say passion. It’s an overused term, especially within the gaming industry. Whenever someone thanks us for our work, though, we feel more involved. It makes us wary of our responsibilities. It compels us to keep pushing and make things better!”.
The sentence includes the reason behind our upcoming visit. The Indie Toaster will spend two days in Genova, diving into and reporting from Game Happens 2017. Expect pictures, opinions, editorials, and the usual dose of commentary. Keep an eye on our social media pages if you want to know more!
We’d Like To Thank Società Per Cornigliano and Game Happens for the time and cooperation.
All pictures used for this article were included in the event’s press-kit and likely belong to these two organizations.
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