The Future Play 2005 conference was a success.
After some much needed rest, I look back upon Future Play as a very worthwhile experience. This academic game conference succeeded in all three areas in which I expect any industry event to benefit me.
The first of these areas is education. One attends a conference to exchange ideas and learn things, especially about stuff that will improve ones ability to perform in a chosen field. In this case, there was lots of great information presented, and I personally learned quite a bit. The most obvious evidence was the fact the informal chit chat in the bathrooms was about how good the content was, rather than the weather or how tired everybody was.
The second area is networking. A conference needs to provide venues for meeting and talking with people, and the conference did well in this area. There were around 150 attendees, which means that the conference is large enough to be a good networking opportunity, but small enough that everyone has the chance to talk with almost any other attendee. My only slight disappointment was that there could have been more working game developers in attendance.
The third, and perhaps most important, area is inspiration. When one attends a conference, one should leave with a sense of purpose and renewed energy. In my case, I came away from Future Play completely inspired to develop better games and with an optimistic view of the direction of the industry. My past decisions and choice of career path were validated, and the road ahead into the future was made clearer.
Having succeeded on all fronts, with very few noticeable hiccups in the planning, this conference impressed me. I have to thank the organizers and volunteers who put it on, especially Glyn Heatley of Algoma University College and Brian Winn of Michigan State University. Throughout the proceedings, both Glyn and Brian made the other attendees and me feel welcome and appreciated. They all deserve and have earned our gratitude.
The one bit of bad news, for me, is that this game conference is scheduled to be hosted at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario next year. In addition to that not being within walking distance, I am also concerned that the conference has a chance to build on this momentum and the venue change could jeopardize that. Nevertheless, I will be hoping for an even better event in 2006.