Networking, conferences and communities of practice that align with my goals in art and animation, creative writing and research.
Networking and Conferences
As a naturally shy and awkward person, networking and conferences are something that I am still practising. My role at The Open University did involve attending conferences and talks (usually as part of a team). There were events for vocational qualifications, technology for distance learning and general training and development information.
Conferences have always been an opportunity to learn, and a place to be inspired for me but the networking part has always been a struggle. As part of my development practice and reflection, I decided to set myself SMART goals to participate in conferences and events. Opportunities for graduates and aspiring games artists, programmers and indie developers to network and learn from industry experts at conferences and events are numerous.
Develop: Brighton (2020) is “Europe’s Leading Game Dev Conference” (Develop: Brighton 2020). A member of the cohort suggested the event, you “hear from the industry’s leading lights, get up-to-date with the latest tools, techniques and industry trends, plus network with 3,000 game dev professionals” (Develop: Brighton 2020). The keynotes include ‘Going Nuclear: The Story of Todd Howard & Bethesda’ and ‘Running a Game Studio – All You Need to Know’ and Live Panels on ‘Diversity and Inclusion’.
Develop offered insight from various experts in their field including 3D Artists, Developers and Level Designers (and more). There were also opportunities to network and discourse in the unofficial Discord channel. You can find my blog post on Develop here.
Reflecting on networking
What type of networker am I?
“Networking gets a bad rap because of people who do it wrong” (Horrowitz 2012: 107).
“My freelancing style” is vital to how I network and my success. “The best networking is networking you’ll stick with doing. Your style should mesh with your personality and habits, with gentle stretches in new directions” (Horrowitz 2012: 107). My personality is awkward and shy, and it’s important I don’t try and be something and someone I am not, that doesn’t mean that I can’t practice networking in my style.
Pre-Covid I had begun practising attending events like life drawing classes and setting myself small challenges to become more confident. Talk to one person and say something nice about their artwork – is an example. I can take a similar conference and networking approach in “my style” (Horrowitz 2012: 107).
Reflecting on communities of practice
Local Community Groups
My style is strong in digital environments, where writing is my primary communication tool, and I can step back when I feel self-conscious. I also participate in local community groups. I run a group for parents who have moved locally and organise small and informal meetups for the kids and grownups to make friends. I often attend life drawing class and engage in community volunteering (again pre-covid).
How to get involved with The Maker Movement (2014)
The Maker Movement Manifesto has been heralded as an inclusive community with positive values. “In the spirit of making, I strongly suggest you take this manifesto, make changes to it, and make it your own. That is the point of making” (Hatch 2014: 11). Friends of mine spend a lot of time at Hackspace and in the community building whatever comes to their minds.
Communities can always find ways to be more inclusive. Making Nonvisually (Bennett et al. 2019) discusses the benefits of creating an accessible community. The nature of Hackspace and The Maker Movement means you have to think outside the box to create a genuinely inclusive place.
Games are a visual medium; making games for ‘everyone’ is not a simple task. A wholly accessible experience is ambitious, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. We should all consider opportunities, where they present themselves, to offer an inclusive space. If you are completing a game jam, use a diversifier. The output will be more original and heartfelt.
Open Source projects relevant to my work
Open Source projects are of interest to everyone: programmers, writers, artists and so on. Twine, Ink and Godot are open-source projects I’ve already started using – I could spend all day listing software and projects that offer or include some open source. “Open source is not just a way of getting free code” it is a community, explains Hubbard (2004).
It is important to remember that it is not just software engineers and code that is part of the Open Source community; for example, many linguists volunteer their time to make ancient languages like Latin, Akkadian, and Greek accessible to a broader audience. Artists, animators, and numerous other professions are involved in open source projects.
“One company could not possibly hire all the best engineers in the world, but by actively involving itself in the open-source community, it no longer has to” (Hubbard 2004).
Future conferences, networking and events to attend
List of figures
Figure 1. Open Source Initiative. 1998. No title [logo] Open Source Initiative [online]. Available at: https://opensource.org/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2020].
BENNETT, Cynthia L., Abigale STANGL, Alexa F. SIU and Joshua A. MIELE. 2019. ‘Making Nonvisually: Lessons from the Field’. In The 21st International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility. ASSETS ’19: The 21st International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, Pittsburgh PA USA, 24 October 2019, 279–85. Available at: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3308561.3355619 [accessed 16 November 2020].
Games Done Quick. Available at: http://gamesdonequick.com [accessed 16 November 2020].
HATCH, Mark. 2014. The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
HOROWITZ, Sara and Toni Sciarra POYNTER. 2012. The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams on Your Terms. New York: Workman Publishing Co.
HUBBARD, Jordan. 2004. Open Source to the Core. [online] queue, p.25 to 31. Available at: https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/1005062.1005064 [accessed 16 November 2020].
Indie Arena Booth. Available at: https://indiearenabooth.de/gamescom2020/games [accessed 16 November 2020].
London Hackspace. Available at: https://london.hackspace.org.uk/ [accessed 16 November 2020].
MURGIA, Julian. 2020. ‘Godot Engine – Call for Participation to Online GodotCon 2021’. Godot Engine [online]. Available at: https://godotengine.org/article/call-for-participation-online-godotcon-2021?fbclid=IwAR1_T-SZdhCIAIZeRrU3TWKDgriSUlA6fBS5wCzSwiBI0q5Jg2zrKAOc3u0 [accessed 16 November 2020].
Women in Games Conference. Available at: https://womeningamesconference.com/ [accessed 16 November 2020].