On Saturday I attended the GameCamp 08 event organised by The Guardian. This was a meeting of a couple of hundred people with an interest and ideas about games of all kinds, modeled after the BarCamp series of gatherings, or in my frame of reference, like a larger-scale, greatly more informal and parallelised version of Dorkbot.
Being over-tired and under-prepared, I gravitated towards presentations by people I’d heard of for the most part, and away from things to do with table-top gaming and ARGs. (I’m not convinced that ARGs – essentially very weakly interactive marketing tools – have any place in an event about games, but as the day had been partly organised by an ARG company, there they were.) With talks going on in seven rooms at once, it was impossible to see everything, but I regret that I didn’t see some of the more esoteric talks (the controller hacking sounded intriguing) or anything focussed on MMOs.
I had originally planned to give a little post-mortem talk about what I’ve been doing in the mobile games sector for the past couple of years. The theme and message was that the mobile games industry had become preoccupied with fighting the ‘symptoms’ (complaining about device fragmentation, fiddly controls, failure to address the casual audience, etc.) rather than tackling the underlying ‘disease’ (the fact that mobile games companies do vastly less to gain the trust and participation of their audience than their counterparts on any other format, when the nature of the platform and distribution method demands that they do much more). But it quickly became apparent that what I’d prepared would perhaps be a bit too specialised for the general audience.
Oh alright, I bottled it.
Highlights of the day for me included Ste Curran’s talk on games as a facilitator for shared experiences (which makes it sound a lot dryer than the set of funny and engaging vignettes it actually was), the afternoon’s rather freeform chat touching on Flash development, Ukranians, Peter Molyneux and Twitter, and the closing meeting of the ‘People’s Revolutionary Committee’ where many gaming bugbears (including console exclusives, tutorial levels, and Twitter, again) were condemned to death by firing squad.
All in all, it was a great opportunity to meet some very bright and games-obsessed people, and I hope we don’t have to wait a year for the next one.