#AltDevUnconference (Burbank)

Original Author: Mike Acton

Last night was a blast!

The first #AltDevUnconference was in Burbank, CA and it was great fun. We met new people. We talked. We exchanged ideas. We drank an average of three beers each. (I can tell you that exactly, since the bar tab was included in attendance.)

Nothing ever goes as planned

We did have some problems with the venue. They accidentally double-booked our room! Luckily, we were able to work out something with the management and create a space for ourselves down on the main floor. It was a little bit noisy with the UFC fight going on at the same time (or as it was also referred to, “sweaty man wrestling”) but I think we made the best of the situation and still had a great time. We adapted the plan quickly and eventually settled on some smaller rotating groups that were able to talk and share.

We definitely earned the “un” in “unconference” – But when Rachel Blum and I imagined this event, we really had no idea how it was going to work or what we were doing. (And speaking for myself, I’m still pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to planning something like this – I have a much healthier respect now for the people who put on the big conferences and still get them to run smoothly!)

What went down?

It become clear really quickly that my original plan for some rapid-fire group presentations wasn’t going to work in our new space, so we adapted. For most of the night, we went through rounds of group discussions on various topics. I have been working with my own team at Insomniac on similar exercises, so I cribbed pretty heavily from those. Some examples of the topics we discussed:

  • What will games look like in 10 years?
  • What’s the difference between art and advertisement? Where do games fit in to that?
  • What are you afraid of and how do you use it to drive the creative process?
  • What’s the ‘ideal’ user interface for games?
  • Gamification: Does it really make everything better?
  • Feminism and games: Do you really want to define your audience primarily by their sex?

There were a lot of really great ideas generated. Which led to a ton of really interesting tangent conversations.

Who was there?

We had a pretty good mix of developers from different specialties and experience levels. We probably had more programmers than any other discipline, but that’s probably more to do being the group that Rachel and I interact with most often with, rather than specific to the content of the evening.

Dennis Crow was good enough to share some of his pictures from last night. (I’ll post more as we gather them up.)





The Budget and our Sponsor

The event went way over-budget. Largely due to the fact that we had to rent the space on the main floor on a fight-night. I ended up covering an extra few hundred dollars personally, but what really saved our asses was our sponsor. In retrospect, I can say that it simply would not have been possible without the sponsorship from Visceral Games. Thanks, guys! You really helped to make what could have been a disaster into a good night for everyone.

More?

I’m rushing out to catch my plane to San Francisco for GTC and GDC this week, but I wanted to get this quick update out before I took off. I’d like to gather up thoughts and stories from our attendees and share those with you later though! So stay tuned.

Mike.