Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flash Game Summit Experience

This weekend I attended the Flash Game Summit in San Francisco. It wasn't exactly what I expected; in fact it was a little disappointing. There was a lot of tension in most of the panels, and those without tension felt somewhat uninformative. Many times tension can be helpful, but in this case the information shared became vague and useless. Through the whole thing I kept thinking, "I know that . . . but some numbers would be interesting." I admit the event may have been great for someone really new to the flash game environment, but shouldn't it be geared towards improving your knowledge rather than introducing the basics?

One of my least favorite would have to be session 5 talking about what makes a flash game a hit. The whole thing turned into a battle between the hard core gaming artist and the corporate formula maker. On one hand creativity is completely substituted with statistical analysis of consumers and trying to fool people into thinking it's fun by adding achievements/leaderboards/etc. On the other hand, audience seemed to have no influence on the game design and leaderboards/achievements were heavily bashed. Don't get me wrong, there was some level-headedness within the discussion, but it made me realize how divided and close-minded our community can be.

It bothers me that corporate approach is taking over, because it's creating extremists on both sides. This leaves corporations making money off heartless games and independent developers failing because they don't connect with their audience. This pattern is going to turn our gamers into stat harvesting zombies, which in the long run is going to hurt the flash game market severely.

Now that I've been caught up in the debate myself, lets get back on topic. Ultimately, I think it's great that we have a conference focusing on flash games. It's a step forward. However, in order for this to be successful there needs to be a lot of changes before next year. A level ground needs to be established before hand (more specific, better crafted topics) so that the average independent developer (that's the big majority) can come out with more information than when they entered. I don't feel like this was accomplished and I hope to see a change next year.

Just to end on a positive note, the mochi award show was a great addition. It was cool to see the best games in each category because you learn a lot about what people are really enjoying . . . even if the developers don't say much upon receiving the award :)

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