The annual Casual Connect conference in San Francisco is a wonderful event to keep abreast of everything casual/mobile/social…. and now casino and real-money gaming as well. That being said, if you walked the show floor, you would assume it was an event focused half on up-and-coming indies, and half on ad-networks. Makes for an interesting contrast!

I was on hand to moderate a lively panel on indie entrepreneurship, a rarely explored topic. Sadly, I didn’t get to take in more than a handful of sessions due to an intense meeting schedule. Good thing most stuff gets posted on video!

For more insightful/thorough thoughts on the show, check out Margaret Wallace’s observations.

XL alum Elin Jonsson (Imaginary Games) with a lovely Afterland painting/gallery set up in the IDEA showcase.

The bustling IndiePrize showcase zone.

Beware the t-rex lurking in the shadows of the new Chartboost offices!

XL’s very own Keith Katz (far right) drops biz wisdom on the crowd. Christine Lee (Chartboost), Mario Wynands (PikPok) and Shmuel Tennenhaus (Big Fish) say smart things too.

More XL alums, Dan Menard and Eric Angelillo of Double Stallion Games show off their IndiePrize trophy for Best Audio in Big Action Mega Fight!

My entrepreneurship panel, as captured via Twitter, covered wide ranging topics like funding, cashflow, founders, marketing, bizdev, etc.


Nordic folks know how to run a good conference! It was a pleasure to participate in the 10th anniversary edition of the Nordic Game Conference. It included a dinner with the mayor, an awesome indie night, awards and champagne, and the SuperHot guys. I did a lecture on startup funding/incubator models and was on an entrepreneurship panel.

As usual, there is a nice balance between the passion driven side of game creation, and the business elements (ie, investors summit in one room, and indies showcase in the next). And this is well reflected in the choice of speakers. In particular, ex Bungie frontman Marty O’Donnell’s talk on staying creative and being good to the “goose” (as opposed to just focusing on the golden egg) was especially inspiring!

Was also nice to have an extra day to wander around Copenhagen, and check into the Shayla Games indie conference.

The mayor of Malmo welcomes us to the historic city hall.

VIP dinner in city hall.

Hustle and bustle in the expo area.

Marty O’Donnell on staying creative.

Leah Hoyer (Microsoft) on innovative approaches to narrative design.

Massimo Guarini (Ovosonico) explores the emotion driven design of Murasaki Baby.

Indies extraordinaire Simogo win several awards.

Ilari Kuittinen and the Housemarque team win Game of the Year for Resogun.

Post awards dinner… for a thousand :)

Funky graffiti in Copenhagen’s meat packing district.

Best. Title. Ever.

Johan Toresson explains the incubation model of Gameport in Sweden.

Pop-up bar/cafe/club along Copenhagen waterfront.

Mandatory Nyhavn tourist shot.

Wasn’t expecting to come across an arc!

The famous little mermaid statue.

Entrance to the bastion area of Kastelet.

Spiffy lights and water in the Tivoli Gardens.

Fireworks at Tivoli Gardens.

Popped down to Sao Paulo for the 2nd edition of the Brazilian Indie Games Festival. A nice combination of juried game exposition, conference, B2B, and public showcase for gamers. The Festival accepts entries from across the globe, and flies in international experts to share and mingle with the local development community.

In addition to giving several talks, I was also on the jury and had fun playing all the finalist games and debating over who should win which award. After the awards were all given out, we moved on to the smaller coastal city of Porto Alegre, for another event, more meetings, and a surprise soccer match in one of the monster stadiums that will be used for the FIFA World Cup.

Brazil seems especially good at making sure you fun while getting business done ;)

Sao Paulo is such a sprawling, massive city. I think this is just suburbs!

So much cool graffiti in Sao Paulo.

Speakers dinner at famous steak joint Sujinho.

Killer city-scape views from the Skye Bar atop the Unique Hotel. With Mario Wynads (PikPok) and Steve Escalante (Versus Evil).

Big finalist games on display at the Centro Cultura Sao Paulo.

Panel discussion on international markets.

Nice open-air cafeteria for lunch.

David Chiu (Kongregate) giving business tips.

Finalist Jamie Tucker (Asteroid Base) contemplates his chances if winning an award, during dinner at Jacaranda…

…and all the positive thinking pays off for Jamie Tucker, taking home Best Gameplay for Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time.

The boys from Fire Horse Studio take the “Revelation Brazil” prize for Like a Boss.

John Davis (Q-Games) on hand to accept Best Game win for Nom Nom Galaxy.

At Ó do Borogodó in Vila Madalena for some awesomely authentic samba music.

Even for a “small” city, Porto Alegre is still quite dense.

Visiting Aquiris (of Ballistic fame) with guides Sandro Manfredini and Rafa Rodrigues.

Hotel was up a cool slanted road. Dunno the angle was interesting…

Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre will host World Cup matches.

The VIP crew for the match.

Insanely excited fans sang and chanted for the entire game!!!

Crowd spilling into the streets after the match. Good thing we won ;)

Back to work with B2B speed-dating meetings.

Brought back a nice bottle of golden Cachaça as my souvenir :)

Aside from losing my luggage, my first visit to Poland was delightful! I was invited to speak on funding models at the annual Digital Dragons conference and expo in Krakow. I nice conference that collects about 800 developers and partners from around Poland and neighboring areas. It was a great opportunity to get a sense of the solid talent in the region.

At the Pocket Gamer “Big Indie Pitch” on the opening night.

Local heroes CD Projekt Red discuss the success of the Witcher series.

Indie developers showing off their games in the expo area.

Big partners, like Facebook, were on hand to share collaboration tips.

A brunch escape to the back garden of the Karma Cafe. Rare time for deep thoughts.

The Wawel Royal Castle.

A not-so-impressive dragon outside the castle. It did shoot flames every few minutes.

In the city center market area.

Eating and wandering around in the city center at night.

Wow! Berlin is a dynamic and exciting city, and plays host to the intense annual International Games Week Berlin festival. I was invited to speak, and participated on several sessions primarily about indie development and funding. It was quite an impressive line up of activities (eg, developer conference, awards show, museum exhibits, indie showcase, chiptune concerts, etc).

While in Berlin, I also crossed over to the startup/venture side of the ecosystem. The startup scene is booming, forming a major economic engine in Berlin, with a constantly growing flow of venture capital into the region. In addition to various VC meetings, I had the privilege to visit (and present at) Betahaus, the cornerstone of much startup activity in the city.

Yasuhiro Wada (Toybox), the father of Harvest Moon, discusses designing for love.

Dungeon diorama in the school showcase exhibit. This one was made by the girl team.

Stephan Reichart (Aruba Events) gives the welcoming speech during the business matchmaking dinner.

The Urban Spree gallery/exhibit space, home to the A.Maze portion of the festival.

Many indie games at A.Maze were sporting alternative input devices and methods of interaction. Hug input?

Hard to capture in a photo… She had an Oculus Rift on while the guys swung her around to control her flight movement.

Worming? Wiggle wiggle!

Urban Spree was packed all the time.

Chiptune and 8bit bands were performing each night at Urban Spree.

Betabreakfast session at the legendary Betahaus.

Quo Vadis party on the Games Academy rooftop.

The party was sponsored by Poland. Mmmm…

Did I mention there was an underground rave party in an abandoned indoor swimming pool? The DJ was in the deep end.

The pumps and pipes in the basement of the pool served as interesting spaces for bars and dance areas.

Selection of mezcal at an “illegal” bar. I sipped one that was 56% and it made my head spin!

Another year, another crazy intense GDC. As odd as it may sound, I always feel like I’m returning home… I also feel like every year is more insane than the last. On top of an agenda packed with meetings, press, parties, etc, I also gave five official sessions (rant panel, publishing/funding lecture, 2x incubator roundtables, and a talk on indie branding), along with a talk on indie entrepreneurship at the Game Industry Support summit at Game Connection across town, and a private briefing session with all the trade commissioners from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Admittedly, I was too caught up in meetings to really suss out any major trends or undercurrents. Though, I would say there was a generally more optimistic vibe that last year. Also, was fun to see the various teams from Execution Labs whizzing around GDC, networking, having good meetings, and generally being productive - and serving as great ambassadors for the program.

Oh, and the IGDA was nice enough to present me with a Lifetime Achievement Award during their VIP luncheon. It is the IGDA’s 20th anniversary, for which I served as executive director for almost 9 of those years. Ernest Adams, the founder, was recognized as well.

Juan Gril (along with Dave Rohrl and Steve Meretzky) kicks off the summits with the always insightful free-to-play year-in-review.

Execution Labs’ very own Keith Katz reveals all of our indie marketing secrets to a packed audience.

Dan Menard (Double Stallion) pitches during the Execution Labs VIP cocktail reception at the Armory Club.

I had an offsite meeting with GlassLab, co-hosted in the Co.Lab learning+games incubator at Zynga.

Nick Rudzicz (KO-OP Mode), proud of Gnah!’s IndieMegaBooth showing.

So ya, apparently throwing cake into the audience is Steve Aoki’s thing. Thank you WarGaming for hiring the craziest DJs!

The Lost Levels unconference in action in the Yerba Buena gardens.

A classic Nintendo NES and R.O.B. display case in the Videogame History Museum exhibit.

Cool VR action…

IGF nominee, Crypt of the Necrodancer, in action on the show floor.

Oh my, Goat Simulator. Yes, this is for real.

Quantum: Eric Zimmerman’s first commercially released board game. Super cool!

Super fuzzy shot, but you can still tell it is Ernest Adams (talking about the founding of the IGDA) because of the top hat :)

Once again, post GDC BBQ action at Keith’s place. mmmm, ribsssssss

The Execution Labs crew chowing down.

My snazzy plaque from the IGDA :)

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