I need your vote (for IGDA elections. Starting now.)

(IGDA == International Game Developers Association)

I’m standing for the IGDA Elections. Right now. If you’re a member, you should have received a vote-by-email slip today. Please vote – you don’t even have to login, it takes just a few seconds.

I want to be elected to the IGDA board because I want to make the organization less reactive and more proactive. Today, we under-sell/under-use the good we do. We can make it more effective, and at the same time make it reach more people.

I’m just a normal game developer (currently independent :)) from the UK. I think I can add a lot, from my experience of studio-management at multiple games companies, to the fact I still make games myself. Unlike most candidates, I’m not American, and although the membership is mostly in the USA, I think it’s time we started getting some Europeans on the board too.

Proactive: Taking control

The IGDA is currently a fantastic grassroots / bottom-up organization, in the most literal sense. Few people appreciate how true this is: the IGDA generally asks nothing of its volunteers, and instead waits patiently to be asked by them to help with things the members have already started doing. Very few organizations work that way, and it places huge power in the hands of every member. That’s one of our unique strengths.

The problem is that the IGDA has grown up, and it needs to take more command. Not “more command of the volunteers” (I bet half of them would quit in disgust if anyone tried). No, it needs to take more command of itself.

We need to:

  1. Leverage our Independence: we possess great influence with studios, but don’t wield it; we can start pushing that influence, fairly, without being aggressive
  2. Better control our messaging: define much better in developer’s minds who, what, and why we are here, and what value THEY can get out of US. Most members never get more than a fraction of the benefit available to them

Independence and Influence

We need to kill the idea that “IGDA Studio Membership” is nothing more than a shorthand way of signing up a couple of hundred individual members at once without 200 people having to each get out their credit card.

We need to engage with the studios much more pro-actively. We need to talk to them – directly – and we need to lay out our expectations, our requirements, and baldly state what value *they* get out of the relationship. Right now its not a relationship, it’s merely an acquaintance.

We need to take our independent status and leverage it to push the Committee and SIG agendas wider and further. If we stand for Quality of Life, we should get more explicit about *who* we believe to be living up to those standards, and who (by omission) we don’t believe. We should make it easier for people to see at a glance which companies are the good citizens of the industry, instead of relying on “contacts” and rumour. The companies will tell us if we incorrectly omit them, and the members will tell us if we incorrectly include them. If we let them.

I’ve worked at studios that had “Studio Membership”, but no-one from IGDA ever questioned (nor advised) on our internal (or external!) practices. No-one even asked.

We mustn’t get “aggressive” to effect change; we just need to get more active in going to the studios, going to the members, and engaging them in these matters. I already do it myself, but it’s far too difficult, and we need to make it easier, and do more of it.

Value, and Messaging

We need to kill the idea that the only value a member gets from the IGDA is $50 off an annual conference ticket, and the occasional text-heavy newsletter that most don’t read.

We need to explain to the non-members what they’re getting too – that its a lot more than just a free events-organizer that gives them a local meeting every month.

We need to clearly define our role within the constellation of Studios, Publishers, Support companies, other non-profits, individuals, their careers, and their Professions. We may know what our role is, but that’s not enough – everyone else needs to understand it too.

The IGDA, in my experience, is completely opaque. Both to outsiders, and to members – and even to volunteers working for it.

At the same time, the IGDA is entirely transparent, and bares everything … if only someone would ask.

But in this day and age, people aren’t used to organizations being open “if asked”, they expect to be rebuffed and ignored. Since we can’t change everyone’s expectations, we need to turn around and push our transparency out more widely. We need to push the information about what we’ve done, and what we’re doing next. A newsletter is not enough; in the modern internet, a text newsletter is a tiny drop in the ocean of daily information.

The Chapters

I’ve never lived anywhere with a strong IGDA Chapter. I’ve seen them in action, on visits to other cities, and other countries.

The only thing I want to change about the chapters is that there aren’t enough of them. Becoming more proactive in the creation and growth of Chapters goes hand-in-hand with the above aims of increasing engagement, activity, and promotion.

I’m sure other board members, people with Chapter backgrounds, have ideas and aims for them. I’ll be concentrating on the stuff I know and understand, and leaving the rest well alone.

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