MIT Sloan School of Management just announced their second annual Business in Games Conference (BiG for short). The official site is http://www.mitbig.com/, and the event will be held on Friday, 4/16 at Microsoft NERD Center from 7AM to 8PM. Register here if you haven’t already – capacity is limited and seats are filling up fast. It’s a bit pricey at $150 (cough cough Made in MA was free cough), but there will be a bunch of very interesting speakers and it’s a great opportunity for indies to find financing. Keynoting the event will be Gordon Walton, VP and co-Studio GM at BioWare (creator of my personal favorite Knights of the Old Republic II) – he is currently working on their first MMORPG “Star Wars: The Old Republic”.
BiG has got me particularly excited this year. For one, I missed it last year, so it will be good to see what it’s all about. For two, the business aspects of the games industry are always overshadowed by consumer, developer, and even marketing oriented events, though this industry (nor any industry, really) would not exist without the guidance of douchebag suits businessmen. Yes, I did cringe a little while writing that.
I don’t mean to sell the developers (wanna be one), consumers (am one), and marketers (yep, I’ve been there too) short, but at the end of the day, people need to run a company and they need some type of business sense to do this successfully. Unlike development, however, basic management skills can be learned relatively quickly, so it’s important that events like BiG are out there to educate the burgeoning games community here in Boston. In my experience, a developer or artist with basic business sense is incredibly more valuable than one without, particularly at indie studios.
As our industry continues to grow, more and more of the management/sales/business teams behind our favorite games become exposed to the public. People are realizing that a career on the business end of the games industry is a possibility. Which brings me to my next point: Most industry execs are old white guys who didn’t grow up with a Game Boy bulging out of their pockets – they don’t know games! [Editor’s note: I actually helped sell a studio to an industry vet that refused to play the studio’s games before acquiring them simply because they didn’t care about games, just profit – sigh]. Conversely, there are plenty of young businesspeople who are passionate about games but have no inkling of how to break into the industry that so desperately needs them.
I can only hope that more events like BiG pop up and help bring the young gamers who should be running these companies to the companies that need their help. On that note, I propose that Christopher Lorentzen become the new head of Activision Blizzard via military coup.