This idea comes from a feeling of despondency, because there are so few writers who get to speak at GDC. There are lots of writers who I would really like to see giving talks, because the larger perspective they bring to games is more important to me than some dude who made a fancy shader. I want games critics to be more visible so that people might stop trolling us with their "where's the Roger Ebert" bullshit. The visibility that criticism needs is probably not going to come from GDC. Their focus is on giving developers clear, actionable takeaways, and critical reflection doesn't always leave developers with a tidy, convenient conclusion.
The Roger Ebert of games already exists, and she's not getting paid. But simply making that known to people is not enough. I want us to be in the same room so that we can talk about how we're going to help each other to move forward. Social media is revolutionary, but it's shaky ground for building supportive peer communities. The results are too fragile. Twitter all too often becomes a place where we take each other down rather than building each other up. We need opportunities to create some proper friendships that are strong enough to serve as a foundation for a positive community.
To make those things happen, I think we need to have our own little event. Topics of discussion could include:
• games in their socio-economic context
• theoretical diversity in thinking about games
• writing methods for games criticism
• professional practice as freelancers
• tactics for survival in hostile social networks
• strategies for financial sustainability
• experimental business models
My vague idea is that we find a cheap or free venue, and have some microtalks and roundtable discussions. Then go eat somewhere together. It would probably happen on the Sunday before GDC. We could possibly set up a Twitch stream for at least some of it, so that people can be part of the event even if they can't come to San Francisco.
At this stage I'm open to anything. Tell me what you want from an event like this. Fill out this form to tell me that you're interested.