If you didn’t know, you would be excused for believing that the [Select/Start] PLAY games conference, taking place this October in Viborg, Denmark, was an established classic.
The lineup of speakers include top names such as Nintendo’s former top indie evangelist, Dan Adelman, British veteran and Goldeneye64 and Perfect Dark creator, Martin Hollis, and DMA Design alumni and technical director of the GameMaker editor, Mike Dailly. But the fact is, that despite this impressive speaker lineup, the upcoming [Select/Start] PLAY conference is the first ever, even if its run by only three people. “We’re a small team of 3 people planning and running the game conference - our cool intern Alexander, my colleague Anchel and myself,” says Project Coordinator Emil Kjæhr
Even more amazing is, that it was actually something of a coincidence that the conference came into being at all. Emil Kjæhr expains that the original plan was to just run the showcase called “Games Expo”, just like they did in 2012 and 2013.
“But as more and more appointments with developers were settled, we saw an opportunity to create a program for Friday with some of the people exhibiting,” he tells Nordic Game Bits. “The part of the conference that’s labeled ‘Experimental Gameplay Talks’ with our exhibitors from Glitchspace, Knapnok Games, and Please Don’t Spacedog became the starting point. And then, suddenly, we found ourselves with a program that looked like a ‘real’ conference.”
The conference is also a part of a larger plan to profile Viborg, The Animation Workshop education, and the creative startup incubator “Arsenalet” as a Nordic hub for game development. Which is also why they have chosen to set the ticket price for the conference on a very low level, Emil Kjæhr expains.
With the decision to make it free for students to participate, and by keeping the ticket prices on a symbolic level of 128 dkk., we are hoping that game developers across Scandinavia can see the point in coming to Viborg. We really want to focus on game development in Viborg, and the conference helps us do that.
Kjæhr also explains that the impressive speaker lineup is a result of heavy activity on Twitter, mail and phonecalls, but also owes a lot to the pro-active policy of The Animation Workshop, where they have involved themselves in a host af activities. “We can feel that it helps us, that we have been actively involved in a lot of different developer-oriented projects before – Game Jams, DADIU, EUCROMA, SpilBar and EU-funded projects like “Scandinavian Game Developers“and “Bermuda“. So we are not completely unknown to the people we have tried to recruit as speakers.”
The ambition for the conference is that it can become a venue for the whole Scandinavian games industry, Kjæhr explains.
Our greatest hope is that [Select/Start] PLAY will become a place where developers from Denmark and all of Scandinavia meet, make new friends and contacts, learn new techniques and methods, and that we in that way can give the games industry in the whole of Scandinavia a collective lift.
Kjæhr also mentions that they are planning to make the conference a tradition that runs in tandem with the annual Animation Film Festival, which is traditionally held by The Animation Workshop in Viborg.