Report: GameDev Days 2018

In April, a group of Hive residents from different companies traveled to Estonia to take part in the GameDev Days 2018 developer conference. Marketed as a “game development knowledge exchange”, the event brought together hundreds of people with a different backgrounds. Participants ranged from young indie developers and seasoned veterans of the industry to press, game development students and service providers. With a fair amount of participants and a lot of on the schedule, GameDev Days surely gave everyone in attendance their money’s worth.

What’s on the menu?

The conference had a lot to offer for many of the young developers and entrepreneurs. The first day of GameDev Days was kicked off by an opening speech by Indrek Saar, the Estonian Minister of Culture. The rest of the schedule was filled with dozens and dozens of interesting talks, panels, and workshops by industry experts. Topics ranged from casual stories from the game development world to talks about ad monetisation and game publishing with data and numbers to back it up.

A panel discussion with industry veterans at the end of day one of GameDev Days. Photo: Kasperi Ekqvist.

The Game Village indie project showcase gave a chance to present what team’s had been working on to the public and to gather feedback. In the Big Indie Pitch, developers entered the fray in a speed-dating-like pitching competition where they sat down to pitch their game for a pair of judges in just a few minutes. After the pitch, they moved to the next table to face the next pair of industry experts. The winning teams were awarded with different prizes and every team received extremely valuable feedback from seasoned veterans.

Plush Pop Soft showcasing their game Rapid Magic to the last few visitors at the end of the second day. Photo: Rebekka Muntola.

On top of the talks and the competitions, participants had the chance to sit down with other people of the industry to discuss business. The Pitch-and-Match system offered people the chance to book meetings with other attendants beforehand so the discussions could be had in peace and in private.

Indies abroad

GameDev Days had a lot to offer and different people may have gotten different things out of the event. So, how was the conference experience for the teams from the Hive who took part? What did the they think of the trip? What did they get out of it?

Rebekka Muntola, Gloriana Games: “It was our first time at GameDev Days and we thought the conference was good experience for indies. We wanted to have a look at Estonian game scene and I think we got a glimpse of it. We made new friends and had a few tasty local beers.”

People from Gloriana Games and JS Games having lunch. Photo: Rebekka Muntola.

Jussi Elsilä, Audire Sound: “There was a lot I enjoyed about the relaxed and warm atmosphere they had organised in Tallinn. It was especially great to meet new people, play some awesome games (both mobile and PC), and get some very good leads. From my point of view, special thanks to Ressa Schwarzwald for an inspiring presentation about sounds and their backstory!”

Kasperi Ekqvist, Plush Pop Soft: “The conference was definitely worth every penny to us. We had two goals at the beginning of day one: to meet publishers and to have as many people play our game as possible. After the event, we felt like we reached both of them. As (positively) exhausting as it was, we now feel re-energized and ready to get back into developing Rapid Magic!”

A hard day’s night

It wasn’t all work and no play. Participants got a taste of the Estonian hospitality as the organizers had arranged evening parties for every night. These allowed people to get to know each other in a more casual and relaxed manner and were most likely welcomed by all.

As a Finnish participant, it was incredible to see and to get to know the Estonian game development scene. Everyone we met and talked to was extremely friendly and welcoming. Overall, the conference experience was amazing and something you would definitely like to experience again next year.

Representing Turku at the afterparty.

Author: Kasperi Ekqvist

I helped co-found Turku Game Hub and I serve as a board member for the association. I am also a game developer and a co-founder for Plush Pop Soft.