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I’m Captivated – and in need of assistance

24 Sep

In just a couple of weeks – October 6-8, to be precise, the first Captivate conference is taking place in Austin, TX.

http://captivateconference.com/

Obviously, given that it’s in my home town and I’m speaking at the conference, I’m a tad prejudiced, but I think Captivate is shaping up to be something pretty cool.

For starters, there’s the thing that got me most jazzed in the first place – the cross-media nature of the event. Austin’s such a big games, music and movie town, I had a head-slapping moment when the organizers said they were going to try to bring those communities together, instead of keeping them at arms length from one another, the way most conferences seem to do. How is it no one’s done that before? Sheesh!

And now that we’re getting closer to the date, attendance looks like it’ll be good, there’ll be live streaming of events and even opportunities to get up on a stage and pitch startup ideas whether you’re an official speaker or not. (Don’t ask me how that’s going to work – I just think it’s cool.)

Anyway, given that we’re a week and a half away from C-Day, you’d think I’d have my talk all wrapped up and ready to go, but that’s not the way I work. Oh, I’ve got plenty of material, but I’d like to get some input and additional material from you folks before I get up on stage, locked and loaded and ready to talk.

So, whether you’re attending Captivate or not, I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me on Games Leadership. That’s the topic of my talk, and while I have a fair amount of experience to draw from and (shocking!) lots of opinions, I wanted to draw on the wisdom of the crowd here and get some thoughts from you.

Here’s kind of what I’m looking for:

  • Who are gaming’s leaders?
  • How did they become the leaders they are?
  • Is there a difference between creative and business leadership (i.e., between game direction and game production or between studio leadership and discipline leadership)?
  • Does the game business do a good enough job training, evaluating and growing its leaders?
  • Is anyone, whether in development, publishing or academia rigorously training game leaders? Who? How?
  • What have been some of the best (and worst) experiences you’ve had that could be credited to or laid at the feet of great (or poor) leadership? (And, yes, everyone who’s worked for and with me is welcome to gang up on me here… I’m tough. I can take it.

I’m even looking to talk about how leadership might differ when you move from medium to medium, so feel free to chime in on film or music leadership, too!

That’s just a sample – if there are other leadership-oriented topics I’ve left out, answer questions I didn’t even think to ask. Basically, the more data points I have, the broader the perspective I can take, the better the talk’s going to be. So share. Talk to me about leadership – good and bad… How one becomes a leader – sensibly and not so sensibly… What role leadership plays in game development and publishing and how that’s changed over the years. Help a guy out here, wouldja?

And if you happen to see me at Captivate, come on over and say Hi. It’s Austin. We’re friendly.

Thanks!

Warren

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We Interrupt this GDC retrospective…

27 Mar

I still need to finish writing up my thoughts about GDC (assuming anyone still cares, given how much time has passed since the show!), but I had to get something out there first:

The latest online issue of The Escapist magazine includes an article by Brenda Braithwaite called “The Myth of the Media Myth.” It’s quite good, a nice, personal, but generalizable look at the way “normal people” and the media see us, see games and gamers.

My attitude toward the “Games are evil” dialogue is to ignore it as much as possible — I see “us” winning in the end, as the population of people who don’t play games…er…go away (as in, well, to be frank, age and, eventually, die off…). The enemies of games aren’t, by and large, kids — they’re not even young adults. The folks who fear games and their effect on society are older, non-gamers, and like similar populations of the past — anti-movie folks, anti-TV folks, anti-rock-&-roll folks — time passes, the older folks go away and the medium the kids love and adults hate becomes mainstream. Then something comes along that the erstwhile kids don’t understand and the up-and-coming kids love and the cycle repeats itself.

This is all a long way of saying, “Wait. Games will become mainstream. The grownups can’t kill the medium. Time heals all wounds.”

At least that’s my attitude.

Brenda’s article takes a somewhat different view of things and I strongly encourage you to check her article out. But, the thing that really go me going was Clint Hocking’s closing comments on the subect, which I quote here (apologies to Brenda for blowing the Big Idea with which she chose to close her essay). It’s Brenda talking about Clint talking about the anti-game folks and what he’d like to see happen with them:

Clint Hocking says what I didn’t think to say at dinner that night. “If I had a choice, I would want to include these distrustful folks in finding solutions. I would prefer it if they understood. I would prefer it if they could see the long sequence of events that is going to address their fears and create the medium they will inevitably love and participate in, whether they expect to or not.”

“What’s sad is that their ideological, ignorant, hostile, one-dimensional attitudes oversimplify one of the most beautiful problems in human history. It makes me very sad that many of these people will diefearing games. I would so rather include them, but they have to meet us in the middle or become sad, lonely, reclusive luddites.

“In the end, we will stamp them out if we have to, but it would be nicer if we all tap danced our way into the future together.”

Reading this, I felt kind of ashamed for counseling an ostrich-like approach to the situation when we could actually be doing something proactive to bring people into the fold. Damn, Clint’s a smart guy.