Gaming giants in Angouleme


Today's is a bit of a different post, as it will be about a video game convention I had the chance to go to. Now wait! I'm absolutely not a video game fan, as I said before, they tend to make me motion sick. The reason I went was that my mum works as an adminitrator in the video games school (ENJMIN) in Angoulême and, since I was invited, I though it might be an opportunity to learn from passionate and sucessful people, even though I'm not a gamer. You could talk to me about anything, as long as you are passinate about it, I can swear I'll find it interesting.And let me tell you, the speakers were MONSTERS in the video game industry. It must've been amazing for the students of the school to meet such well known creators. I know I would give anything to meet one of the writers mentionned in my top 5 books (unfortunately, they're all dead now!). Anyways, the guests each had a different specialty : graphism, game design, buisness... which was reflected in their very different personalities, they were far from being the typical « geeks » that, to be completely honest, I was expecting. These are the the creators I had the chance to listen to :

Peter Molyneux (Britain), founder of Lionhead studios, 22 cans and creator of Godus : The chap gave a great speach, mostly about how to create/launch/earn money from a game and free to play/portable device games. He shared his experience of making the very sucessful game Godus, his mistakes, his successes... He was surprisingly humble, funny and very interesting.

David Cage (France), founder of quantic dreams, creator of (between others) Beyond  Two Souls and Farenheit : David gave a one hour long conference about his experiences on the road to becoming a sucessful video game creator. He told us everything, from the day he assembled his first tiny team in the music studio in which he was working, to the day he launched the very popular Beyond Two Souls. He didn't omit the mistakes he made, told us about his difficulties, his challenges but also about the chance he had to work with stars such as David Bowie, Ellen Page, Willem Dafoe... His career was great to hear about and super inspiring.

Thomas Bidaux (France/Britain), CEO of ICO Partners : This was more of a buisness oriented conference about choosing your platform, your buisness model... What was interesting was that, even though videos games were at the center of the lecture, the strategies covered were valid for any kind of enterprise. I learned a lot during this conference, and not just about video games (did you know that Victor Hugo was paid by the page ? That buisness model had quite a big influence in his writing).

Gary Carr (Britain), head of incubation at Lionhead studio : One of my personnal favorites. The speach was super interactive, lots of slides, videos...Gary was inspiring, friendly and on top of that, a brilliant speaker (like every single one I saw really). He talked about talent spotting, creativity and the birth of a project. I didn't get bored for a second.

Henry La Bunta (U-S), Chief Visual Officer at zynga : Different conference in that it was purely graphism oriented, many slides, videos, lots of demonstration. He insisted on the importance of lighting, contrast and overall graphisms, not only in video games, but in films as well. Even though I loved the other talks, it was nice to have a break from the buisness and « scriptals » aspects of video games to get deeper into the artistics aspects of game creation.

Luke Savage (Britain), Academic Development Manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe : This friendly and accessible guy talked about the creation of playstation games, th programming, platforms and economics. It was a very quick and precise conference, professionnal but still amusing.

Katharina Thielmann (Germany), Co-President, Head of Research - Games for Change Europe : This lecture was focused on the importance of creating behavioral games, ones that will make people think/reflect. Katharina being a teacher has a completely different approach to video games. Since her conference was psychology based, I really enjoyed it, she presented her games so perfectly that I now want to play them.

Jenova Chen (U-S), co-founder of thatgamecompagny, creator of Flowers and Journey : To be honest, my head was like a watermelon at this point, plus Jenova presented a video conference, which didn't help with my limited focusing abilities. It was still great to hear such a young talented creator talk about how he came to make his very unique video games. He did it all with the intention of bringing people together « in peace and harmony » as he said. I already wanted to play his games before, it is even worse now, I feel as if I need them!

Unfortunately, I only was present two days out of four, so I missed part of the conferences. But were also talking :
Tracy Fullerton (United States) Director - Game Innovation Lab, University of Southern California

Patrice Desilets (Canada), President & Creative Director - Panache Digital Games inc, worked on Assasin's Creed.

Eric Zimmerman (United States), Independent Game Designer & Arts Professor - NYU Game Center

Jurie Horneman (France), independant developper

Colin Walsh (Canada), Founder - Celsius Game Studios

Boyd Multerer (United States), Ran software for Xbox Console, founded Xbox Live …

Being the giants of the game industry that they are, I have no doubts these guys gave brilliant speaches, to which I would've loved to assist.

The inauguration of the schools new building took place at the same time as the « video game workshops ». The contrast between the passion and willingness to share of the speakers and the boring, self publicising attitude of the « officials » (mayor, prefects, government representatives...) was pretty funny. I enjoyed the second part a hell of a lot more !

Overall, it was a really enriching experience, from which I've learned a lot! All of the professionals had one thing in common, they weren't afraid to fail. They had an idea and followed it through to its end, not knowing where that might be . They also insisted heavily on the fact that mistakes are important, the beginnig of creativity and that if you are afraid of making mistakes, you'll never achieve anything. In conclusion, if you have the chance to meet/listen to highly talented people in any walk of life (even if you're not particularly interested in their speciality), go for it . This way, you might learn valuable life lessons, as well as mabye discover a new passion (I definitively want to get back into gaming).

That's it for today,

2 commentaires:

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