This year’s Edinburgh Interactive event has now passed. Attendees of the sessions and events have walked away with more knowledge of the video games industry, a glimpse of the future and, in one case, a £50,000 investment. Can’t be bad…
However, for one intrepid writer and his camera-wielding sidekick, even the excitement of this 10th anniversary event could not could not surpass the need to see a doctor. Through the cloudiness of pain meds, here is Fury’s Edinburgh Interactive 2012 experience -
This year is the 10th year of Edinburgh Interactive and a lot has changed since the first event all those years ago. I was a mere boy when I first attended the original Edinburgh Interactive at just 15 and I have been every year in some shape or form, watching it change and evolve into the event it is today, not only in the size and location of the venue, but in the general form of the event, shifting from a consumer style event like Eurogamer Expo, where you could find the latest and greatest titles, but now it has changed into a heavy, industry-driven, networking, suits and ties, deal making and breaking event. Well, if I’m honest, I am out of my depth in the new corporate style form. But one thing is for sure, no two years have ever been the same and, for better or worse, there’s always a highlight in some shape or form year after year.
In the 10 years of Edinburgh Interactive, I have meet some huge people in the gaming industry. People I’ve watched at the likes of E3 and Gamescom, people I have looked up to, people like Xbox godfather Peter Moore, Epic games legend Mark Rein and God of UK gaming Ian Livingstone. It bridged the gap between the dizzying heights of the industry’s biggest movers and shakers, and the gamer on the street.
Edinburgh Interactive has taken place in museums, cinemas, conference centres and hotels. Some years have been bigger than others with more glitz and bang, but recent years have been a rather low key event.
So what did the 10th year have in store? Well there was the standard two day event being held at the Radisson Blu hotel again this year, which was the same venue as last year and is located on the Royal mile in the heart of Edinburgh. The event was running from the 9th to the 11th of August and again the event was being held as part of the Fringe festival, which officially began on the 9th of August.
This year’s event looked to be a bumper line-up, featuring a mix of people and talent from across the industry such as Edinburgh Interactive legend Ian Livingstone, Struan Robertson and Chris Allen. Also there was a full schedule of workshops for the public which take place on the Saturday after the main event. There young gamers could have a go at being developers and learning some of the styles and just what it takes to craft a game. So the stage was set for a bumper event again this year, which was all set to kick off at half past nine in the morning on Thursday.
So with great excitement we arrived in a very VERY sunny Edinburgh. This was a bit of a shock as the past three years we had been greeted by torrential rain and a soaking. So with a smile on our faces for once, we made our way to the venue. We arrived a little late because I had done myself an injury and was finding it hard to walk (little did I know that this injury would end up with me having to leave the event early and go home). We were greeted by hot tea and coffee and bacon rolls which are becoming a more than welcome treat when arriving at EI. So we had a brew and a roll while we waited for David Yarnton to finish his opening speech, then we would take our seats for the start of the event.
For our first session of this year’s event, we sat in on a session by Stephane Bura, who is the lead designer at Namaste. Stephane was there to show a new advanced AI which his team has been working on, called Storybricks. Storybricks is designed to change the way game developers tell stories in games, stopping them being scripted events and making the story a non-linear experience, so that in games like Mass Effect and The Walking Dead, when you have to choose an option, it is not just a clear cut affair and the player will not really know if they are choosing a good or bad option. They will just choose and the story will grow from there. Plus this program can be used for NPCs in the game, which would mean that the game world is under its own control, like in a GTA style game the player would just affect his own storyline and not the world as it is. This new program could be a big part of changing the way games are played, but it would really need to be picked up by a developer like Bioware or Bethesda.
After a short break Struan Robertson, product director at NaturalMotion, took to the stage to talk about how his team have developed some of the most successful games on the App store and highlighted two of their games and how they have gone from a premium developer with games from 69p, to a free-to-play developer with My Horse and CSR racing. He also spoke of how the free-to-play model is changing to a freemium model. The flavour of this year’s event was heavily aimed at the mobile gaming market.
The next, and what would be our final session because of the injury I had picked up, was Brian Wong, the Founder of Kiip. Kiip have integrated achievements into viral mobile ads, like the ones seen in games on the iPad or iPhone, and Brian spoke about how this new form of marketing is taking off stateside. These ads sees you being awarded a voucher for a drink after you have registered a run on a running app, with the app feeding information to the advertisers and this is reflected in how the achievements are unlocked. In short, this session felt more like a sales pitch than a general talk on the evolution of the technology. After this Christian O. Petersen, VP of Community at CloudMade gave a talk on a very similar technology, but this one made the user go to that advertisers location, i.e. a Starbucks or McDonalds, and was all about pushing sales through free gifts that you would receive for the ad backed games. These talks were an eye opener and a true view behind the logistics of game development and how the biggest drive for backers is foot fall to profit at their stores.
So sadly, after this session, due to the injury I had received we had to call it a day. But our time at the 10th Edinburgh Interactive was extremely enjoyable for the short time we were there, bringing up some thought provoking questions and showing a side to the mobile industry which we had never thought of. We’d just like to thank all the developers and publishers for their time, and the guys behind the EIF for putting on an outstanding show this year and we very much look forward to attending again next year !
A Royal mile too far !
FuryAc3 & WeeFuryAc3
We hope that you get better soon FuryAc3, at least in time for the Eurogamer Expo, and we prescribe spending at least a few weeks resting, preferably with an Xbox360 controller in your hand.
However, despite the early retirement of the Furys, Edinburgh Interactive 2012 continued.
Edinburgh Interactive’s Chariman David Yarnton commented: “The tenth anniversary Edinburgh Interactive Festival once again delivered more than it promised. The range and quality of speakers was second to none; all of their presentations delivered ideas, information and thoughts that kept the audience interested during the two days that the Festival ran.
The range of speakers represented the diversity of our industry, with Brass Monkey CEO Chris Allen and Kiip founder Brian Wong joining us from the USA, Remco Vroom of TAB WorldMedia from the Netherlands, as well as a host of home grown talent with speakers from NaturalMotion, Playniac, and Zappar among others. The topics were varied, ranging from the latest technology for Cloud Gaming, Augmented Reality and external recognition systems, to the consumption habits of the average Gamer via Google, and not forgetting a philosophical discussion led by three academics and their take on sex in games, and the love of the characters.
If you didn’t make Edinburgh this year you missed out, so make sure you put it into the diary next year as one of the must attend events if you are at all serious about keeping up with the best the Interactive industry has to offer.”
Perhaps the most interesting event at this year’s Edinburgh Interactive was the Dragon’s Den style “Thare Be Dragons”, which invited entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry veterans who could pledge imaginary funds to ideas they believed in. However, things took an interesting direction -
Three brave participants took to the stage to pitch to our expert panel, consisting of Sean Dromgoole, Mark Philips, Ian Livingstone and Bill Liao, and all three were rewarded for their efforts by gaining some insightful feedback for their respective projects. For one entrant however, the session took a dramatic turn as Coder Dojo founder Bill Liao stunned the audience by offering a real investment of £50k for her concept!
Edinburgh Interactive chairmen David Yarnton commented: “Any budding entrepreneur’s should have entered the mock Dragon’s Den “Thare be Dragons!”… Our panel gave comments and feedback, and pledged imaginary investments to those with potential. The surprise of this session was when one of the Dragon’s actually committed £50,000 of his own money to one of the projects!”
Talking to Bill Liao following the conference, he said: “Edinburgh Interactive is a very cool forum that brings together fine minds, experience and talent in the gaming world. Alisa Bates’ deep experience, subject matter expertise, and intentional pitch was enough to turn an exercise in education and entertainment into a serious investment opportunity, as I firmly believe that there is a need for easily accessible, private, digital social interaction.”
Wow! Exciting stuff! After this, I am sure that you will not be wanting to miss next year’s Edinburgh Interactive, so keep an eye on the official site at edinburghinteractive.co.uk/ for dates and booking details. Also, check out the official YouTube channel for videos from this year’s event.