How to Make the Most Out of a Games Conference
Hello, world! As the world opened up after multiple lockdowns, offline events sprung back into existence. Kwalee took full advantage and you may have seen us at various games conference meets and events around the world – from Nordic Game in Sweden to Gamescom Asia in Singapore.
As exciting as events can be, it can often be overwhelming and difficult to navigate all the networking, exhibits and talks. So how do you make the most out of a games conference? We attended over 20 physical events this year, and I’m going to share with you what we learned to help you maximise your experience.
Heading to an event for business? You’ll likely have some targets or objectives to complete while you’re there. So what do you need to do to make the best use of your time and focus on what you need to achieve?
Your Golden Rule – Prioritise!
You’ll get lots of invites to meet with other businesses, but they might not all be right for you. Don’t be afraid to decline meeting requests that aren’t relevant to your business. Better still, you can support those requests further by passing them on to your colleagues or friends who may find them interesting or relevant.
Easier said than done, right? Sometimes the biggest challenge about a games conference is finding the right people to meet.
If you’re a publisher, you want to meet with studios to find new games and build new partnerships. If you’re a studio you might be looking for publishers, influencers, press, etc.
Here are some things you can do to try and find those people:
- Search the online platform. A lot of events will have an online meeting booking system like MeetToMatch or Pine. So long as attendees are using tags you can conveniently find the right contacts to meet. Most events will open this platform at least a week before the event, so get searching and book the most important meetings first.
- If you’re looking for games, check if there is an indie zone to explore or any publisher-developer matching activities.
- Post on social media ahead of time that you’re attending the event and invite people to reach out to you. You’ll find many curious and relevant people on LinkedIn and Twitter.
What to Expect at a Games Conference?
A lot of people. COVID-19 may be more manageable now, but if you’re still a little anxious about being around crowds then fear not! You’ll find plenty of hand sanitiser, and some events have still got elements of social distancing.
As a business attendee you’ll find plenty of opportunities to network, learn about the industry and explore new innovations. As a consumer you’ll find lots of chances to — you guessed it! — network, learn about the industry and explore new innovations.
But you’ll likely have fewer meetings and more time to play. A games conference can also be a great place to discover career opportunities if you’re looking for your way into the games industry or your next challenge.
You likely won’t find definitive answers to questions like ‘what will the next trends be,’ or ‘how do I set up an indie studio.’ But you’ll find many experienced speakers and attendees who have useful insights. And I’ve found the games industry is a very open and sharing place to be.
How to Have the “Best” Time
A games conference or an expo can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I’ve learned that the bigger the event, the more important it is to pace yourself.
You won’t make it to every party and you may not get the chance to explore every dark corner of the merchandise hall. But you can still enjoy what the event has to offer – whether you’re there for business or pleasure.
It’s not necessarily all about having the most fun time, but here are some pointers on how to have the best time. These points may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget the simple things.
Book Your Breaks
Meetings will stack up and you’ll quickly find you have forgotten to eat or are rushing to the bathroom just before your next meeting.
Leave ten minutes between meetings if you can, in case you need to walk from one end of the venue to another. At Gamescom in Cologne, the venue is vast and it can take a while to find your meeting locations.
Pick Your Parties
There might be multiple networking parties, award ceremonies and social events in the evenings. These could potentially hold business opportunities, so pick the ones most relevant to you.
Socialising is great, but don’t feel pressured to attend everything. If you need an off-night to rest and prepare for the next day, do that. And speaking of…
Prep a Plan
Small things like water bottles and chargers are super important. If it’s summer then pack a fan – I got a nasty shock when I attended a games conference this summer and the aircon was broken.
Make a checklist before you travel so you don’t get any surprises. I’ve got items like lip balm, power bank, and pen and paper on my list – you never know when you might need an old-fashioned pen.
What has your experience been like?
Every event is going to be a different experience, of course. So treat these as good guiding points in your pocket so you can use them to feel more organised with your tasks, your thoughts, and your goals.
If you’ve been to a games conference before, we’d love to hear your experience and advices as well! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Are you a game developer looking for people to publish your games with? We’re definitely interested in your game! Sign up to our Kwalee Publishing Portal, upload game prototype or a couple of 30 second gameplay videos, and our Publishing team will get in touch with you.
Interested in sharing your experience or writing a guest post for us? Or want to be the first to know where you can find us at events? Feel free to connect with us or follow us for news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn! You’ll get notified about our latest game jams, conference attendances, and/or associated charitable events.