How do you motivate kids so they want to build up their skills in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics – better known as STEM?
Make a game of it, of course.
The best way to engage children with technology in a healthy, meaningful way is through games that are fun to play and teach them important skills like reading, writing, language development, design, systems-based learning, creativity, and collaboration. The National STEM Video Game Challenge hopes to motivate such learning by leveraging the natural excitement students experience when they play and make video games.
Why is it important to encourage STEM learning? With these skills in their pockets, students will have a better understanding of the world around them, and will even be able to shape the world around them. They will be empowered to build strong, healthy communities, and they will be able to connect with, learn from, and share their experiences with people across the globe.
Right now, the National STEM Video Game Challenge, presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media is accepting submissions of original video games and game designs. The challenge, now in its third year, is open to middle school and high school students in grades 5 – 12 through April 24, 2013. It is free to enter; one middle school and one high school winner will be selected for each game creation platform. Each winner will receive an AMD-powered laptop computer, including game design and educational software. And each winner’s sponsoring organization will receive a cash prize of $2,000.
The National STEM Video Game Challenge was inspired by President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate Campaign,” an initiative promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education. More than 3,700 middle and high school youth participated in the 2012 Challenge, a 650 percent increase over its inaugural year. There were 28 winners last year and two winners from the inaugural year of the competition who were invited to showcase their games at the White House Science Fair in February 2012.
STEM skills are critical to ensure we create graduates who can compete in an increasingly global marketplace. The world is becoming increasingly complex, with science, technology, engineering, and math playing larger and larger roles in our daily lives. Soon, having a deep understanding of these subjects could be as much of a requirement for employment as knowing how to use basic computer programs. In short, STEM knowledge will become a part of every professional field. People who build products and services using STEM knowledge, or who at the very least understand at a deep level how technology works, will have the greatest influence over the global economy.
In three years, the challenge has been able to reach thousands of kids, showing them the opportunities that await in professional STEM fields. "I consider winning the STEM challenge to be one of the best achievements of my life,” said Julia Weingaertner, Middle School category winner, 2012 National STEM Challenge. “Creating the game opened my eyes to the world of computers, which I had never even considered to be interesting before.”
Students can get help learning how to design their own games from industry pros at E-Line Media, a workshop for middle and high school students. The event is free of charge, and sponsored by the Institute of Museum & Library Services. It will be held at the Lynn Public Library, 5 North Common Street on Thursday, March 14, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Details on how to enter the challenge, game design resources, and a calendar of upcoming workshops on creating games are available at www.stemchallenge.org. Among the game design resources are video tutorials, links to open-source game-making software that can be downloaded free of charge to any computer, and toolkits for parents, teachers, librarians, afterschool program facilitators, and mentors to help kids create their games.
The STEM Challenge is supported by title sponsors the AMD Foundation, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the Entertainment Software Association and national community sponsors the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust.
Educators and public officials say time and time again that this nation needs to improve student STEM skills to build a competitive society prepared to take on the future. Here’s a way to help that will help create a better future, and is fun besides.
The State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors.
By Michael Suen, community producer, and Adam Mandeville, producer, Learning Games Network
Albert Einstein once said that play is the highest form of research, yet many students seem to experience less play as they grow older. That’s true even as videogames are earning more respect as learning tools; and as some educators buck the trend and encourage students to learn through play.
That said, there can be real obstacles to training teachers how to use games in the classroom, or proving the marketability of learning games to commercial companies. Teachers work with restricted class times, limited access to computers, and antiquated academic standards. And in the games industry, the rise and fall of learning games has made some companies wary of the enormous investment that new games require.
That’s what we do at the Learning Games Network: show teachers how to use already available games in the classroom, and collaborate on new learning games that can be used both in and out of classrooms.
As an industry, we have long been cursed by the fact that we never seem to belong. We hear that learning games are too educational; or learning games are not educational enough. Or perhaps most heartbreaking of them all: Learning games are not real games!
In truth, a well-designed learning game retains many of the same elements as a good commercial game. Good games tell good stories. Their art engages players, and their mechanics offer hours of play. Most of all, good learning games ask us to experiment, to take on new identities, and to learn from our failures. A big red “F” discourages students, but a “Game Over” screen reinvigorates them. If a game can properly marry play with a subject matter, the potential for learning becomes all the more powerful.
The rate of adoption of games on the part of teachers is a major hurdle to the widespread use of learning games. And for good reason; games can be giant beasts to manage, whether it’s Civilization, spanning millennia of ancient history, or Portal, exploring an immersive world of physics puzzles. Still, the right game can certainly teach “hard skills” such as algebra, reading or writing. The right game can also teach strategic thinking, problem-solving, and interpretive analysis, soft skills sometimes overlooked in curricula. Perhaps most encouragingly, such games can be used both in and out of the classroom.
As a non-profit that spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Education Arcade and University of Wisconsin’s Games+Learning+Society group, LGN’s mission is to support the development of the learning games industry. In our experience, failed learning games often start with a game that may have once been fun, only to cram in learning elements. Imagine your elation at nearing the end of a space-shooter level, only to be met by an extraneous algebra problem.
Other games make the mistake of starting with a learning goal and adding gaming elements. Who wants to catch all the “fraction monsters”? The most successful development of a learning game starts with both learning and play. Play-testing with students and communicating with teachers at early stages, and throughout the iterative design process, is the only way to be sure that a game will have a chance of being successful, although both can be overlooked by the commercial gaming industry.
The development of a learning game may be different from a commercial game, but one goal is the same: to create a fun experience. The key lies in getting a well-balanced team of designers, learning and context experts, and producers around the table from the beginning to push and pull on the design in a way that builds powerful and fun game mechanics, all based around key understandings of how learners develop in a given content area.
If you build a fun game, and show the student how the underlying content of the game has application in the real world, they will want to learn more about the subject. We need to encourage play. The work will inevitably follow.
The State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors.
By Chinh H. Pham, patent attorney, Greenberg Traurig LLP - Boston
It’s one thing to have a great product idea. It can be a real challenge, though, to figure out whether a budding technology is commercially viable within a specific industry – especially when it comes to videogames.
Companies and investors have relied on a number of criteria to measure viability, including timeliness, market demand, and competitive advantage. That’s fine when it comes to projecting performance in more established industries. It can be much harder to make those predictions in a new or still-emerging industry like videogaming.
When it comes to finding the greatest opportunities, game developers may want to look at the US patent system. The information available in such resources as the US Patent and Trademark Patent Database can provide insight into, among other things, early trends in technological advances. With patent wars raging and tech companies of all stripes stockpiling patents to protect their intellectual property, the information contained in the patent database can be an effective means for finding the next great technology.
A game developer may look toward the number of patents issued or applications filed in the videogame sector to gain insight into a particular trend or focus, the potential for commercial exploitation, and emerging markets for such technology. For example, a search of the USPTO database using the terms “video game” and “controller” returned approximately 400 videogame controller technology patents issued in 2012 alone. For a late entrant to a videogame category, the number of patents issued or applications filed can help determine the risks associated with entering such a market. In other words, it can provide real competitive intelligence.
A game developer might also look to the ownership information to determine who the competitors may be and whether there’s ample room in the marketplace for a particular game category or application of a game technology. Now, even though there may be but a few competitors, the barrier to entry could still be high. If it turns out that the number of patents issued to or owned by these competitors is relatively high, then the opportunity for that particular category or application may be minimal.
You might also look to the citation information of patents to determine risks and opportunities. When a patent has been repeatedly cited by others, such information can indicate licensing potential. If you are looking to establish a dominant position in a gaming area, you may want to enhance your portfolio by acquiring repeatedly cited patents. Alternatively, repeated citations can be indicative of potential roadblocks to overcome when expanding the technology outward, unless there is a possibility of entering into a cross-licensing relationship with the owner of the oft-cited patent.
The scope of a patent claim may also be used as an indicator. The broader the scope of protection covered by the patent, the more likely it may be that the patent owner has the ability to block competition in a particular area.
The trick is to become familiar with the information available, and use it to enhance your strategic thinking. There’s tremendous value in adding patent information to the treasure trove of intelligence you can assemble when developing new products or technology. The hours you spend examining the patent landscape before committing to a certain path may be the best play you can make when it comes to creating a killer product.
By Susannah Gordon-Messer, education content manager, The Education Arcade at MIT
For the past year, I have been a game content manager at The Education Arcade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When I tell people what I do, I am routinely asked – how did you end up doing that? It’s been a circuitous journey, but each step along the way helped me to gain the right combination of experiences to be good at what I do. In our lab, you’ll find people from a mix of all kinds of backgrounds, each with an interesting story to share about how they ended up here. Here’s how I got here.
I’ve always wanted to be in science. I love experimenting, discovering, and thinking through problems. As an undergraduate, I studied biological engineering at Cornell University. It turned out that I liked evolution, disliked chemistry, and liked feeling as if I were on the cutting edge of research. But what I really liked was math. And teaching.
After graduating, I joined Teach For America, and spent two years teaching high school math in Warrenton, a small town in the eastern part of North Carolina, just south of the Virginia border. I loved it. I liked developing lessons, I liked creating materials, and I really enjoyed working with students.
When I finished my two years as a teacher, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school. I liked the teaching, but I missed the research. I thought that perhaps a career as a professor would suit me. I ended up at Brandeis University in the biophysics and structural biology program. I threw myself into my coursework, and took on a modeling chromosome dynamics project for the biology and physics departments.
Through my research, I stumbled on one of my greatest passions. As much as I liked the research, I loved explaining my research to people even more--particularly to non-scientists and young students. I would sketch my research on napkins during dinner with friends and family. While some of my classmates saw their teaching requirements as a hassle, I felt completely at home in front of a group of students. I had scientific curiosity, but was now certain that I wanted to work to inspire that in others. The question was how to do that.
During the final three years of my graduate program, two supportive graduate advisers gave me the freedom to explore all kinds of alternative science careers. I mentored for the Posse Foundation, volunteered designing programs for The Discovery Museums in Acton, and went to meetings that had nothing to do with biophysics (thank you to the AAAS Annual meeting in 2008, a truly eye-opening introduction to all the different paths I could follow). After graduate school, I landed at the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP), writing middle school curricula emphasizing science literacy.
Looking back, I’ve had a series of amazing mentors who gave me insight into science careers that I didn’t even know existed. I had never even though of doing content work for educational games. Before coming here, I’m not sure I even knew this kind of work existed. Now I spend my days designing educational materials that address teaching math and science in new and innovative ways. I am in a research environment and interact directly with teachers and students.
On days when I am hard on myself, I wonder whether I picked the right path. On more reflective days, I realize that each of the steps I have taken on this journey has provided me with the many, diverse skills required to be successful my role. I am in turn a biologist, a teacher, a researcher, a designer, and of course, a gamer. It’s been a pretty crazy ride to get here and certainly not a straight or easy one. But then again, what career path is straight and easy?
The Beauty and Benefits of Science - The 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston from February 14-18 highlights the “unreasonable effectiveness” of the scientific enterprise in creating economic growth, solving societal problems, and satisfying the essential human drive to understand the world in which we live.Along with her role as an education content manager at The Education Arcade at MIT, Susannah Gordon-Messer is the content expert for The Radix Endeavor, a massively-multi-player online game (screenshot above) designed to support high school math and biology instruction. Additionally, she manages school and teacher partnerships, PD, and school implementations for the project. The game is scheduled to be available for large-scale pilot testing in the fall of 2013.
By Kellian Adams, founder and chief executive, Green Door Labs
At Green Door Labs, I build videogames for nonprofits and education. Some are funded by clients that need games for specific purposes: fundraisers, exhibits, education technology products that need a boost, companies that want to connect with a nonprofit. And then some games… aren’t.
Sometimes we want to build a game just because it’s cool. In fact, a lot of the time we want to build a game just because it’s cool. I’m an education and culture geek, and I have no delusions that an unsupported game on arts education will suddenly make a bazillion dollars or get magical super-funding. Most likely it will be totally unprofitable. So do we build it? Hell, yes.
Take, for example,our current dream game: Project Arachne, which we’d like to build with – and run at – a particular public library. It will most likely never make a dime, yet it is worth every minute we put into it.
The key to a dream project that’s not a money-maker is to first find an amazing team that’s willing to do it for cost, or close to cost, just because it’s awesome. That isn’t as hard as you would think. Either great visuals or a great story helps.
Arachne’s life cycle started with a chat between myself and an excellent game designer about one of our favorite artists, Hilary Scott, and how much we wanted to build a real-world game with his work. We contacted Hilary; he was game for a game. We sent images of his work to our Green Door designer, who loved the story and Hilary’s art so much that he built out a logo, images, and color scheme in a day. We suddenly had a pitch deck. Our COO loved it, and started to mine her tech contacts from MIT and think about how it could potentially be built by abusing students and friends. Now we had a producer and some possible programmers. Our building team was ready.
Deck in tow, we thought about the perfect place to hold this game. Arachne, the statue we wanted to build the game around, looked like a mechanical librarian. A few Googles about games at libraries sent us to Justin the Librarian, a smart, energetic youth librarian from Portland, Maine, who’s transforming his library into a community space that experiments with games and multimedia as outreach.
Justin introduced us to his library’s executive director, who was totally on board. A short trip north, and we met a fantastic team of librarians that were excited to do something unusual. Team #2, our cultural partner, was ready to go.
Why is it important to have a partner? Game builders will have different takes on this, but I personally think that for culture games, you want to have a ready-to-go group of core game players to get the word out.
Now for the details. When we build a project, we like to think about what we have for resources and work backwards, rather than think of the perfect situation and seek out the perfect resources for it. With Arachne, our resources were some great pieces of art, a fantastic story, and an intriguing space full of people who really wanted to make this happen. We sent the library’s executive director a number of proposals and asked: Do we want to do this cheap or do we want to do it wow? He said he preferred wow; we would find the money. (By “wow”, I do not mean World of Warcraft, I mean a project that would make players say “wow”- with augmented reality, codes hidden in books in the library stacks, secret pieces of art and multimedia responses.)
Okay, now’s the hard part. How do we fund it? We’re working with a library, so we can’t charge people to play. We also can’t get budget dollars from the library’s annual fund, because this is an experimental game, not something that’s sanctioned in the budget of a public place. We can find a corporate sponsor that might be willing to work with us. We can build the game in a way that it will travel to other libraries that could license it and offset some of our initial costs. We could also crowdsource it, but that hasn’t been really been done with this type of library project before. We could also write about a million grant proposals. I’d been chatting with some incredible educational media producers, like TERC EdGE and the Kickin’ Kitchen video project, who have been funded by grants.
What will we try? Everything. What will be the solution? Whichever one comes through first. The key is that we’re not sitting on our hands waiting for our dream game to be funded. In the meantime, we’re building out a new Green Door Labs gaming platform. We’re building a new game in partnership with the Joslyn Museum of Art and consulting for education technology companies like Alleyoop and startups like Mobee. We even started a gamification meetup group where fellow game nerds can meet and talk about what they’re working on. There’s a lot to do!
For us the key is to build games that will make no money while you build games that actually will make money. Google has its 80/20 rule (80 percent of its staff’s time is spent on funded projects, and they’re free to spend 20 percent of the time to work on unfunded projects), which has been instrumental in the development of some key products. Patrick from Owlchemy Labs was recently telling us about Jack Lumber (A man out to avenge his grandmother. He hates trees, loves animals.) which they originally built for kicks, but which was picked up by Sega.
Sometimes these pet projects actually are money-makers. Does this mean it’s worth it to risk your business on products that might possibly be a surprise blockbuster? I know the start-up community is a come-what-may kind of place sometimes, but I would personally say no. Never stop producing profitable projects in the name of dream projects.
But by all means build it. Definitely build it. Just don’t expect that a “game that will never make money” will suddenly and magically make money. It will most likely lose time and money – and you and your team will be so proud of the time and money that you lost. You’ll love it and be glad that you did it.
By Emma Clarkson, community manager, Stomp Games
Without careful planning, a video game marketing campaign can risk being remembered as disastrous rather than groundbreaking; there’s no shortage of blog lists of the worst campaigns in gaming history. Yet it is more challenging than ever to put together a smart strategy for marketing games.
Search rankings of the best video games of 2012, and you’ll see the reason: more and more that are played not on consoles, but on smartphones, tablets, and Internet browsers. With evolving platforms like those, there are both new opportunities and unforeseen challenges for developers: tighter budgets, wider audiences, and more fluid development cycles.
Whether you make games for a living or just play them for entertainment, successful titles on emerging platforms have made one thing clear: traditional business models and methods of promoting games just won’t cut it anymore.
Many mobile, tablet and web-based games today achieve success on budgets that seem impossibly low. The key to understanding the success of games like Braid, Minecraft, and Tiny Wings is in the way most gamers hear about them. These games get publicity via critical acclaim and peer recommendations, rather than traditional, ad-based campaigns. Games resonate differently with the audiences of popular content sites, taste-making bloggers, and well-established news sources, and each of these audiences plays a role in the promotion of lower-budget games. Press coverage via these three types of online outlets is like a three-legged stool – depending on two of the three isn’t going to work. Also, do your homework! Seeking publicity through these websites means understanding what resonates with their readers.
While budget plays a huge part in the success of a game’s promotional strategy, another major shift to consider is today’s timeline and life cycle of the most popular games. Many online games launch to a wide audience while still in early beta, relying on player experiences and reactions to drive the direction of ongoing development. However, the most dramatic shift from more traditional game development to today’s browser-based and mobile game offerings is the relationship between the game you’re developing and the audience of gamers you assume will play the game.
In traditional game development, market segmentation, and target player definition are crucial factors in a game’s promotional strategy; that is logical in a console environment, where a player must choose to spend hard-earned money on a game in order to play it. A marketing campaign at any stage of a game’s life cycle must reflect the target audience, as that audience is assumed to be the driver of profit for the game.
A customary game launch is committed to a target demographic long before embarking on a marketing campaign, and it may not be feasible or even possible to shift gears and change direction in response to consumer reaction. Developers on today’s emerging platforms still must define an ideal marketing target for a new game, but must also have a flexible strategy after it kicks off. Many games on new platforms start a marketing campaign by casting a wide audience net, then assessing the response of each demographic contained within, identifying the different market segments that are most interested in engaging with the game. What doesn’t work for one segment of players might resonate successfully with a different group, stretching a small budget by using it much more efficiently. Even big-budget marketing campaigns work best when tuned for maximum efficiency in targeting the right audience with the right message.
Traditional high-cost, maximum-awareness game campaigns have generally been focused on the weeks leading up to a game’s release date, spending most of the budget on flashy events and top-tier media placements. Many of today’s games have lives well beyond the launch date, so marketers must have a plan to sustain marketing in alignment with an ongoing game-as-a-service. In addition, in response to the ever-changing environment of game promotion, video game marketers have learned to be more flexible in all areas of strategy, which as it turns out is a tactic that has spilled over into best practices in advertising all kinds of products. A successful promotional strategy needs to continue to be flexible and responsive to changes in the market, and adaptive regarding target demographics. As Dave Bisceglia, co-founder and chief executive of The Tap Lab, said in a recent interview, “Your business plan will be a living/breathing document that is in a constant state for flux. If it isn’t, you’re doing something wrong.”
There are many paths a game developer can take toward a successfully promoted game. Understanding the nuances and connections between the different paths is the key to choosing the right strategy for the game at hand.
I’ve been creating educational games for the last dozen years or so. As the popularity of this genre has increased amongst academics, start-ups, and big publishers, I am often asked about the composition of our teams working on games. Do we have game designers? Content experts? Lead programmers? Educational researchers? The answer to all those questions is, “yes,” but not necessarily in the way you’d think.
Games, particularly educational games, are a massively multidisciplinary endeavor. They can’t be effectively approached without the abovementioned skills (among others). But it turns out that they also can’t be effectively approached by simply checking off a name for each of these responsibilities. That is a surefire way to create an educational game that is, in the words of my former colleague Henry Jenkins, “about as educational as a bad game and as much fun as a bad lecture”.
You can’t simply check off those boxes, because creating educational games is not merely multidisciplinary, it is interdisciplinary. It requires integrating all of the skills together effectively. The educational content needs to connect deeply with the game play, which in turn needs to be reflected in the look and feel of the world. Without that integration, the resulting product is neither educational nor entertaining.
There are many ways to create an interdisciplinary team. What is required is at least some overlap in the expertise of the team members. In the case of educational games, that means, for example, the game designer needs to know at least something about the educational content area, and that the lead programmer in turn needs to know something about game design and the content. At a very minimum, they need to know enough at these intersections to communicate effectively, but in my experience, the best teams have a much greater overlap.
The best teams have members with deep experience in multiple areas; deep is an operative word here, as limited experience in all of the above areas doesn’t work. Such teams have, for example, a lead programmer with content expertise and game design experience and/or a game designer with a programming background and teaching experience. That allows each person to communicate with, think with, help out, and when things go awry, fill in for other members of the team. Those teams have the best discussions around the table and online, the best resulting designs and products, and the most resiliency when it comes to changes and setbacks.
Those team dynamics are enhanced by input from and participation in a larger community. Through informal collegial lunches, Friday afternoons filled with games, and lots of shared spaces, ideas can and do flow across teams and projects. Even team members are shared across teams (although no more than two), which also facilitates flow of ideas.
So, yes, even on a small project I have a game designer, content expert, lead programmer, and educational researcher. And one individual must take final responsibility for any given task or set of tasks. But despite all of those roles, the team may only need a table for two when it goes out to celebrate at the end of the project.
Eric Klopfer, Ph.D. is professor and director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Klopfer is also the co-founder and president of the non-profit Learning Games Network and co-author of the recently published “The More We Know: NBC News, Educational Innovation, and Learning from Failure,” which chronicles the rise and fall of iCue, an NBC-MIT joint venture into interactive learning, including lessons about new media, old media, and education.
In 2012, three out of the top 15 Apple app store games, as rated on Metacritic, were released by independent game development studios based in Greater Boston. In fact, as the Boston area competes in a global market that includes the largest publishers in the games industry, it is the only market to host more than one studio among the top 15.
So what is it about our local independent studios that creates such concentrated success? I'd venture to say that it's the camaraderie and support between local studios that can result in initiatives like the Indie Game Collective, a group of nine studios that work together in Intrepid Labs, a Cambridge co-working space.
The group was formed last year by Michael Carriere of Zapdot, after he returned from the annual Game Developers Conference with a new-found awareness that much more could be done for local independent studios. "After discussing several ideas for about four months," said Carriere, "it was decided that we would try out co-working, and grow a group of successful studios that could immediately make a strong impact on the local community."
A volunteer community manager for Boston Indies, Carriere hopes to foster growth by positioning the collective as a mentoring organization for younger studios. The idea is to help overcome the difficult conditions faced by games start-ups.
As Dejobaan Games founder Ichiro Lambe put it, "Sustaining an indie game development business is becoming tougher, not easier, despite access to [game development technology] like [Apple operating system] iOS, Steam, and Unity." And although this has been a relatively unstable year for studios in Massachusetts, these small companies are thriving as they bind together.
This could potentially help those affected by layoffs by providing work, while it also gives these independent studios access to experienced talent. "We've been in situations where folks between permanent gigs have done contract work with us, or where we can find a permanent member of the team as a result of another studio closing its doors," said Lambe.
No doubt, this is a handful of dedicated developers who highly value business growth. The group has welcomed new companies almost every month, with Elliott Mitchell of Vermont Digital Arts as the most recent addition in January. With this many working in close proximity, several of the collective's members collaborate and contribute on projects. They assist and push each other to attain success in the industry. In doing so, they hold the bar high. The collective boasts two of the above mentioned top rated Apple app store games: Dejobaan's AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! Force = Mass x Acceleration, and Girls Like Robots by Popcannibal.
Professional mentorship and education are equally important to this group as business success, which sets the Indie Game Collective apart from many other tech start-up collectives, as evidenced by its Friday Lunches initiative. Every Friday afternoon, a different person from outside the collective joins the entire group for lunch. An interested student, a newly formed indie, or even an experienced game developer can bring in a game idea or problem to discuss. The session can go anywhere, with varied results and differing opinions. The visitor receives honest and open feedback from a wide variety of industry experts with unique viewpoints.
Overall, the collective treats independent game development as a trade, as if they are evolving into a modern journeyman program for a technical and industrial skillset. It pays special attention to honing its craft, and attempts to function as a support system for Massachusetts independent developers. As stated on its website, the Indie Game Collective is focused on three primary goals: Impact local industry, improve education, and challenge one another. Sounds like this group is onto somethiing.