Last week, the Etch Play team (well, a few of us anyway) descended on the sunny climes of Brighton for Develop - a conference that covers numerous aspects of the games industry. As one of the UK's biggest events for game creators, a number of side events tend to coincide with the talks, taking advantage of the fact that pretty much anyone who works in video games is there.
This week on the blog, we thought we'd ask each of our Develop attendees what they made of the event: Their highlights, their thoughts, and their takeaways. Take it away, Play team!
Friends & Falafel (In That Order)
It was my first time at Develop, and after arriving by train I was immediately thrown into our first event: A falafel lunch that we had organised ourselves. Straight away I knew that the conference as a whole was going to be something special - on the walk to the venue I passed several friends who I usually only get to speak to online, and when I arrived I was greeted with even more of them.
The falafel was good, but the conversations were better. One of the best things about Develop is just getting to spend so much time meeting up with people and hanging out in person. Sure, I like staying home as much as the next person - maybe more - but sometimes it's nice to really meet people, and have an excuse to sit down with them to talk about where their careers have taken them. If we met and spoke, or even if you just waved from across a crowded corridor - thank you!
Game Dev Heroics
One of my highlights of Develop was the Game Dev Hero Awards, which ran on the Tuesday night. It's an event to celebrate the unsung heroes in the industry for all their contributions. It's about game devs, being nominated by game devs, voted for by game devs. It really is an event that is at the heart of the games industry.
It was inspiring to be in a room and rub shoulders with so many talented people. Despite the label of "hero" being banded about, the humbleness and shock of everyone who was nominated and won awards was on full display - you might as well have slapped a sign on the door that read "Imposter Syndrome Convention". But that's why these events are so important: to remind people that they are doing an amazing job. Getting to be a part of celebrating them was a real thrill.
Etch Play were honoured to sponsor the Marketing Hero Award, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the stage with Taya to talk about the award, nominees and hand out the prize to the very deserving Claire Sharkey. Unfortunately Claire couldn't attend, but that did also mean she won the award (in my eyes) of the best acceptance video ever created. Huge congratulations again to everyone who was nominated for all the awards, you all rock!
There were so many great things about Develop (as you'll read about in this post, and we're only scratching the surface), but Game Dev Heroes is right up there for me, and epitomises what is so fantastic about our industry... The people!
Develop: Stars in their eyes
Wednesday evening saw us attend what some might say are the Oscars of the UK games industry events calendar: The Develop:Star Awards. And what was even more exciting than being a guest at the "dress to impress" ceremony, was that we were actually nominated for an award too!
We could scarcely believe it - Etch Play were nominated alongside several worthy nominees for the first ever showing of the Marketing Star award! Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as we didn't take home the prize. But we were more than happy to see our client, Media Molecule, pick up the thoroughly well-deserved accolade for their Live Services team. We also had the absolute pleasure of sharing our table with the amazing team at Neonhive (who were shortlisted for the same award as us), and Greg of Supermassive Games fame (shortlisted for several awards). To be in such esteemed company, both on the shortlist and around the table, was reward enough for us.
And while we didn't win a formal prize, it's definitely fair to say we won the award for "Best socks shown on the screen at an awards ceremony", which is a category I just made up. You see, in my infinite excitement for Develop, instead of business cards this year, I opted to get each of the team several pairs of really awful branded socks. And I made them even more awful/fabulous by getting our faces printed on each side of them. So bad it's good, right?
At first we were a little unsure if people would appreciate our "humour". But our fears were soon squashed when word started to spread on Twitter, and we ended up with numerous people hunting the team down to grab a pair of Etch Play socks. One such lucky recipient was former client and forever friend Dan Allman, now of Kepler Interactive, who proceeded to share his attire on Twitter with the #DevelopStar hashtag. Cue Dan's feet being presented during the fancy dinner on a 30ft wide screen at the ceremony!
Overall, Develop was a fantastic event, giving us a chance to see and meet more of the fantastic games industry community, and celebrate the very best in games.
The Best of the Rest
My colleagues have taken some of the best bits, but if you thought that was all Develop had to offer, you'd be wrong. Talks, sessions, bootcamps, and an expo were also key features of the main event, even if it was a little bit too warm to really enjoy them at their fullest. Who organises a conference during a heatwave!?
The person in this costume must've been roasting.
But I know that the content of the talks is really important to the organisers, and to us as attendees. In fact, if I gave Ben two slots in this article he'd probably use the other one to talk about his favourite roundtables....
As for me, I also enjoyed a number of the other events that we got to go to - the ever-enjoyable mixer hosted by Splash Damage is a personal highlight, and it's always rewarding to spend time at one of the many socials at Develop that benefit Special Effect, a charity that all of us here feel passionate about. There was also a fantastic Comms meet up, but it did take place at 8 in the morning, so your enthusiasm for that may vary!
For me, Taya said it best earlier in this blog, when she said that the people are one of the best bits of the conference. There's such a wealth of different kinds of gamespeople in attendance - in every discipline, at every stage of their career. Getting to share a drink or two with them is a real pleasure, and although we didn't pick up an award from Develop:Star this year, we still feel like winners.
Same time next year? We'll see you there.
Etch Play are the digital marketing agency for the games industry. We help studios and publishers navigate growth. Building meaningful connections, and maximising player engagement with your games, using websites, social media, apps and more. If you'd like to know more, get in touch.