I’m typing this from the lively lobby of the Smart Russel Square Hostel, after Day 1 of Casual Connect has wrapped. Rarely, an event will land directly on my Tuesday blog spot, and these posts go out late. Apologies for anyone waiting by the phone!
This day has been a blur and I’m exhausted, but here are some scattered thoughts about Casual Connect London. I hope this blog post is helpful for those who are considering applying to a future Indie Prize, purchasing a ticket to Casual Connect, or just traveling to London.
Architecture: Loving the stately buildings in London. The convention center is across from Westminster Abbey, the church where every English monarch has been crowned since 1066. It’s incredible to behold! And London is filled with awesome old buildings like that.
Power Warning: I woke up this morning feeling screwed, because I realized late last night that the UK has different power outlets, and I couldn’t plug any of my devices in to charge. That’s always a terrible feeling, especially abroad. I felt even stupider because I have an adapter at home from my trip to Australia, but just forgot to bring it… Luckily, the man running the Smart Russel Square Hostel front desk was nice enough to let me borrow one for the week. What a gentleman!
Pips and Dip: At the venue, we began to set up at 8:30 am for a 9:00 start. The QEII Centre was nice enough to provide free morning tea, proving that some stereotypes are wonderfully true.
Indie Prize: The game developers who are here have been included in the indie game showcase because they’re eligible for the Indie Prize, a title given out on the final day of the show. Apparently it’s an audience favorite vote, similar to how SXSW does it. That seems silly to me since everyone would obviously vote for their own game and there are few outsiders, but what the hell, why not?
Small Stations By Design: The setup is very tiny – the smallest I’ve ever seen – with just half of a table, a chair, and one socket in a shared power strip. This is on purpose, though. Your table is more like your office space than a demo area. You’re supposed to use it as a headquarters to hold meetings, store your stuff, and chat up other devs.
Indies, Everywhere: There are a ton of indies at this show from all over the world! Below is a shot of what the main game room looked like during the busiest hours of Day 1. Believe it or not, all of the people shown there are game developers! Jack and I have talked about this idea before – the notion that the most important thing about these gaming conventions is who you meet, not how many sales you get. Casual Connect puts that theory to the test by putting you in a room with 75 – 100 other developers and giving you a chance to mingle!
Afterparty: I got a chance to catch up with some devs I recognized, and meet a few new ones. To be totally honest, I didn’t stay long. These are early mornings, and my travel woes are still gnawing at me. Even so, kudos to Casual Connect for throwing two parties for us. What better way to connect casually than a party?
Ok, these posts are never intended to just lavish fawning praise on the conventions I attend. Let’s get into it.
Making The Most of B2B Shows
As a premium game, these B2B shows can sometimes be pretty irritating. (B2B as in, business-to-business) Casual Connect isn’t a consumer show like PAX East or Playcrafting. You won’t find random people walking around that could be potential customers. That doesn’t mean that your fellow game developers won’t buy your game, just that the show isn’t meant for that. You’re supposed to take the opportunity to connect (casually) with businesses that can help your game succeed.
The companies seem to be getting the better end of the deal here, since not all of us even need to work with ad management systems. Because of that, it’s hard to avoid the feeling of being “sold to” at Casual Connect. Having said that, there are some companies I’ve met that could be useful for a future project. There are even 1 or 2 that could help Where Shadows Slumber out of our current slump.
There is good news, though! The staff has promised that the show is undergoing some massive changes. “We’re evolving! Come see what’s next!” Tomorrow’s afterparty is called the “Last Ever Casual Connect Party” which probably means the show’s name is changing and the business model will shift. Maybe future shows will have more indies, less companies, and the presence of off-the-street enthusiasts? If that’s the new proposition, I’ll keep returning to as many Casual Connects as they invite me to. If not, this might be my last one for a while.
In any event, I’m making the most of this B2B show. There are some translation companies here, some big ad networks, Unity, a Microsoft booth, and tons of awesome indies from around the world. We may even be able to get Where Shadows Slumber on a cool game streaming service that operates similarly to Netflix, but for games. (Stay tuned)
After the show ends, I’ll post the results of the Indie Prize and a roundup of some of the coolest games I found. Thanks for reading!
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Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.