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  Monday, April 20th, 2009 > Lifestyles > DIG a success story

DIG a success story

Kyle Wynen
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Kyle Wynen

Published: Monday, April 20th, 2009

This past November Digital Interactive Gaming London (DIG) took place, London’s first, and very successful, video game developers conference. In the Interrobang report on DIG 2008, noted were the keynote presentations, student involvement, and game developers that attended the conference. Those included every developer in London, as well as Electronic Arts out of Vancouver and Ubisoft out of Montreal, among others.

DIG 2008 also featured post-secondary student competitions, those being an art design competition and a programming competition. The grand prize winners of 2008’s competition each took home $3,500, with three of the top winners later being hired by London-based game developers.

In anticipation for this year’s DIG London 2009, and in light of this issue being the Interrobang’s finale for the semester, I spoke with DIG London’s lead coordinator, Larry MacKinnon of the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), about how DIG 2009 is shaping up.

Interrobang: What can you tell me about the DIG competitions?
MacKinnon: We’re in the middle of considering a wider potential design competition. As it stands at the moment, we are looking at having a programming project, an art design project, and an audio project. Recently, as of today, we’re now looking at the potential of having a team-based project where we’ll invite students from across the province to form themselves up into teams and design a complete game.

Interrobang: Would that be in addition to the ones you already have? Or to replace them?
MacKinnon: To replace them, and probably have a more attractive prize packages, given that there might be teams of two or three or four working on a project. We would also want to give them a longer timeframe to do this in. I think the other thing about that is that conceivably if somebody’s been working on something already, or they have a school project, which partially meets the needs of this competition, they could take that initial work or project and develop it a little further and submit that.

Interrobang: For students, in terms of the conference and outside the competition, how is it worth while for them?
MacKinnon: Last year we made all the speakers and panel members aware that about half of the audience would be college and university students and people who are looking to be graduating soon, and we asked them to bare that in mind in terms of their comments, in terms of their presentations. You know, if a game company leadership says, “This is where we’re all headed,” or “This is where the industry seems to be going,” those are the people that are making investment choices and hiring choices. For me it adds a lot of credibility and hopefully it does for students as well.

Interrobang: Are there any areas you thought needed work after DIG’s first run that you are aiming to improve on?
MacKinnon: [Pauses in thought]

Interrobang: I thought the lunch was swell. [Laughs]
MacKinnon: “Thought the lunch was swell,” [Laughs]. Yeah, there were certainly some technical issues. We moved people around a lot within the venue. We're trying to reduce that this year by having it all on one floor if possible.

Interrobang: What’s your outlook for DIG London 2009?
MacKinnon: We’re very excited about it, and there is a lot of people working very hard to make this [another] success this year. Fundamentally, students from Western and Fanshawe are the key to all of it. If they participate it will be a success, and we’re certainly going to try and make it attractive for them to do so.

Due to this semester’s series of Interrobang articles focusing on London’s game development community, I asked each local game development studio their thoughts on DIG London. Overall the response has been great, with developers being surprised at the evenly split 600-plus gaming industry and post-secondary students attendees, as well as the quality of the conference.

London’s Antic Entertainment and Redjade CEO, Fredrik Liliegren, shared in the thoughts of success, “I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations. The positive vibe coming out of it really helped to say, ‘You know what, they actually put on a really focused and good game-related show in London. Well they’re putting it up again, so maybe we should go check it out this time, there’s something there.’ So it brought a lot of awareness to London and the game companies that are here in London.”

Mark Maia, creative director of London game studio Big Blue Bubble, continued with DIG’s success, “It was good, it got a chance for everybody to get together under the same roof, it also brought in representatives from other [game development] companies outside London, and brought them into London. It really makes London seem like the serious place to be for gaming.”

DIG London 2009 takes place at the London Convention Centre this November 3 and 4. Registration will open well before the conference at, the hub of all things DIG, including more details on their soon-to-be-announced competitions.

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