For such an important part of modern life, the business of making games can seem very small and insular. Anyone who’s made it part of their life will have had the experience of seeing old colleagues in new companies, networking with familiar peers at game industry conferences or spotting a trench buddy from their very first job in a headline or award ceremony. This déjà vu pervades the industry, creating closed shops, old boys’ clubs and echo chambers. With gaming’s star firmly in the ascendant in spite of these millstones, how can we stop it from stagnating and open it to new ways of thinking?
The addition of the new Game Industry Track to the 2020 SXSW Conference is part of our answer. Though we’re confident that the sessions and speakers in this track — including a Keynote from Reggie Fils-Aimé — will offer insight and inspiration to even the most experienced industry insider, that isn’t the whole story. Its inclusion will spotlight the art and business of making games to attendees from every creative and technical industry. This community of professionals is eager to find new ideas, take on new challenges and make new connections outside their own niches.
Aside from networking with legions of potential partners and collaborators excited about the creative potential of gaming, the SXSW Conference also presents the opportunity to expand your horizons beyond standard industry conference fare. Its 22 individual tracks cover trends and topics in the tech, music and film industries, and fill in the gaps where the lines between fields become increasingly blurred. Read on to dip into just a few areas where other industries explore ideas that could redefine the entire medium of gaming.
Tech In Creativity
There are obvious uses for machine learning and AI in gaming, and its potential impact on gameplay continues to be thoroughly explored at gaming conferences. But horse physics and NPC behavior represent only a fraction of the business of making and shipping a game. Learn how AI can be harnessed to inspire and inform creative processes in the Advertising & Brand Experience session AI: It Doesn’t Have To Be At Odds With Creativity, and realize the potential of machine learning to make products accessible by more users in Inclusive Design: A New Frontier in the Age of AI from the Design track.
Future Gaming Media — XR and Beyond
The next great gaming medium is already here, and its early adopters have created a body of work and techniques that go far beyond gaming. In the Experiential Storytelling Track, Harnessing the Holodeck: VR, Work & Society addresses the potential level of engagement in VR, opening a door to explore the potential of games in the coming paradigm. XR Track sessions Content Creators in the Age of Experience and AR at the Intersection of Art and Tech highlight fundamentally different ways that extended reality can be used to communicate, charting its coming evolution. And for a glimpse of the future, look no further than the Fantastic Future Track, including bold predictions in Featured Session 10 Non-Obvious Megatrends Changing Our Culture and a sneak peek at the joypad of the future with The Future of Your Brain: Neural Implants and More.
Continuing the Conversation
The confluence of so many different fields at SXSW offers unparalleled opportunities to make contacts that are outside your own sphere of influence but still relevant to your industry. For more formal networking opportunities at the SXSW Conference, you can find like-minded creators at the many Meet Ups: as examples for gaming industry professionals, the XR Storytelling Meet Up will introduce you to writers, developers and their projects in the rapidly-growing VR and AR fields, while the Human-Centered Design Meet Up offers designers an in-depth opportunity to explore philosophy and technique with their peers.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; look for sessions and events like Scifi-preneurship: How Sci-fi Shapes the Future; Power of Design Leadership to Transform Business; The End of the Office: How Fully Remote Teams Thrive at Scale; or the AI, Robotics & Voice category of SXSW Pitch for just a few of the ideas with the potential to shape — and be shaped by — the gaming industry.
Sessions in all 22 programming tracks can be found in the SXSW Schedule: discover new speakers and topics, browse sessions by date or track, and plan your networking opportunities and must-see events for this March.
Attend SXSW 2020
Featured Image by Tico Mendoza