GameLoop Unconference

Since August 2008 I’ve been running GameLoop, a yearly game-development-focused unconference with my friend Scott Macmillan.

It’s a self-organizing game conference, and it goes something like this:

  • 9am-10am: People show up and spend an hour getting to know each other’s shared interests
  • 10am-11am: We informally vote on proposed sessions and put those up on the big board
  • 11am: the conference begins!

There are rooms for people to meet in, and a big board with a schedule grid to coordinate it all. Last year’s GameLoop was a huge success: we had about 90 attendees from about 35 companies, including local companies like Irrational Games, Harmonix, and Rockstar New England as well as developers from places like Bethesda Softworks, EA Mythic, and Vicarious Visions.

The signal-to-noise ratio at a conference like GameLoop is pretty astounding. What I like best about it is that it’s just developers talking about stuff they want to talk about. It’s a refreshing change of pace if you’re starting to feel like the big conferences are the same people saying the same things every year. We’ve had sessions about procedural animation, ethics in rulesets, distributed version control, iPhone shaders, illusionary gameplay, prototyping, and many others. Some sessions are incredibly small and focused, just three really passionate people who don’t know each other discussing a topic they care about. Other sessions can be more like standard conference lectures or roundtables. You can see the whole 2009 schedule along with some audio and notes from the sessions.

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