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To be a player: My time at the 2013 MassDiGI Game Challenge

Posted by Michael Warshaw  March 5, 2013 11:13 AM

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By Caleb Garner, game producer, Part12 Studios

Ed. Note: The MassDiGI Game Challenge is a pitch competition designed to help indie and student game development entrepreneurs hone their ideas and showcase the rapidly expanding game industry cluster in the region. Forty-four teams of indie game developers and student teams from around New England competed in a sold-out event from March 1-2 at NERD, the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center. A panel of game industry veterans served as judges for the competition.

As an indie game developer, participating in the MassDiGI Game Challenge offered a valuable opportunity to get feedback on our project directly from fellow from more accomplished developers. To hear from others in the industry, who have their own strengths and experiences to draw from, gives us a perspective that we would never get while we’re pounding away in our game developer ivory towers.

This was my second MassDiGI Game Challenge. Last year, I was there while I had had several games in various degrees of completion. It was an incredible opportunity to talk with mentors who served as sounding boards for our game concepts.

This year, we could only pitch one game. The one I chose was “Finger King”, a parody Japanese game show. I had a pretty good working prototype to show, which I felt would better convey the concept than a pitch for one of my many backburner game ideas. Those may or may not get made this year, so why waste the chance to get some valuable insights?

garner.pngThe game’s elevator pitch was, “Be a contestant on a Japanese game show, where you move your finger through courses of razors, fire, and other obstacles, losing as few fingers as possible and winning fabulous prizes!” The idea really got traction in October, when I met Anthony Cefaretti, a student artist who wanted to collaborate on a project. Over time, others joined up, including Bonie Rosario, our marketer and launch strategist; Flemmings Beaubrun, an audio and music specialist; and finally, Mariah Almeida, who came on as our Japanese translator/cultural consultant as well as providing additional art support for the game.

I was thrilled that the whole team was able to be a part of the Game Challenge, helping the judges to see our team spirit. It was also a chance for everyone to finally meet at the same time and brainstorm not only for the pitch, but for our future plans as well.

The pitch came together pretty well. Tim Loew, executive director of Game Challenge sponsor MassDiGI, was very good about offering all participants clear guidance on what the judges would be looking for. The four big factors: originality, a business model, art style, and a technical overview. Keeping those criteria in mind really helped us to make sure we covered all of the bases, to the best of our ability.

Looking back on the weekend competition, I realize that events like this do not just happen. They depend on the dedication and passion that can be found throughout the Boston-area game development community. That community is strong; Boston companies believe in helping students and indies develop their ideas into reality. Sponsors like Microsoft, Adobe, Turbine, Becker College, GSN, and many other local businesses embody this passion through their generous backing of events like the Game Challenge. And the individuals who make up MassDiGI also deserve much praise and gratitude for helping us navigate the challenging and changing landscape of game development.

Caleb Garner is a game producer at www.part12studios.com in Randolph, MA. @part12studios

The State of Play blog, 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. MassDiGI, based at Becker College, is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Follow along @Mass_DiGI.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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MassDiGI 8-24 287w872.jpgThe State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features stories by digital and video game developers and business insiders. Follow along @mass_digi.

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