This Sunday I will depart for Schiphol International Airport to catch a flight, via Stockholm, to pretty Visby Sweden on the island of Gotland. Each year, Gotland University’s game design department ‘GAME’ hosts the Gotland Game Conference, a multi-day event featuring various speakers but that’s really centered around the department’s students showing off their projects of the past year. Steadily growing in size every year, the conference plays host to a number of national and international journalists, educators and game development professionals who review and discuss projects with students and offer feedback, and function as a jury for the best-of-show competition on the final day.
Every time I attend I’m amazed by the high overall quality of the games the students manage to create. Here the difference between full-time game design faculties and more broad ‘multi-media’ educations (where, besides game design, disciplines like audio and video production and web development are offered) is really apparent. Big winner last year was a CCG-meets-towerdefense game Little Warlock, and I reckon I spent quite some time playtesting Secrets of Grindea as well, a JRPG with a big wink to the grinding mechanic in many MMO games nowadays.
Lots of support for this event comes form both Swedish companies and those abroad. This year’s conference features as many as 13 speakers, and a bunch of industry representatives, among whom the faculty’s resident game design lecturer Ernest Adams, of Twinky fame. I’ll be looking forward to joining them for some local beers, the presentations, lectures and award ceremony and the final goodbye-dinner, a grand medieval feast set in the ruins of an ancient tower.
All things considered, GGC holds its own perfectly well when compared to the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. It might not be as big but the quality and enjoyment are certainly up there.
We’ve been invited to Gotland University before to give a guest lecture about our Wii Laparoscopy training game. There’s an article on our visit on the website of GAME. If you’d like to be informed about the Gotland Game Conference you can visit the website here, or follow GGC on Twitter at @GotlandGAME.