A Brief Note

We appreciate that Darius Kazemi decided to engage the IGDA both as a former volunteer and board member as well as more recently in his latest blog post regarding his thoughts on why he left the IGDA as a board member. The IGDA is always looking for feedback and aims to understand what members and non-members alike are thinking.

It’s important to clarify that the primary duty of a board member is NOT fiscal responsibility.  Our primary duty is to advocate on behalf of game developers to ensure quality of life, the perpetuation of our craft and help prepare the next generation of developers. While accomplishing this, the board members do have a fiduciary duty to the members of the IGDA to spend their money in pursuit of these goals, not to the existence of the IGDA organization.

The IGDA is not a faceless monolith. It is filled with many individuals with many ideas (some opposing), many of whom have put in hours, months and even years working very hard and very genuinely to improve the industry – not only for IGDA members, but for everyone involved in game development. It’s disappointing to see that there is such misconception as to the individuality and achievements of the volunteers, board members, executive directors, and members.

If we were to ever discern that the best interest of the members was to disband the organization, then we would. Again, the IGDA exists to facilitate a global aggregation of passionate game developers who wish to support one another in advocacy, community and professional development.

Our track record is public. The IGDA is and continues to be an effective force, despite its challenges.

Clearly the above list is incomplete. But more important than any specific achievement is the hard work, good intentions and dedication of our membership and volunteers. We are so fortunate to have some incredible people amongst our ranks – and more than anything else, Kazemi’s post diminishes them and their hard efforts.

It is easy to became disenchanted with the behind the scenes running of a non-profit.  Advocating for game developers is hard, thankless, and often controversial work. But the board doesn’t think disengaging or giving up is ever the answer. We are committed to continue working with anyone willing to donate their time to make our industry a better environment for everyone involved – a cause to which we as an organization are still deeply committed.

Dustin Clingman
Chair, IGDA Board of Directors


8 Responses to A Brief Note

  1. Could you perhaps link to whatever you’re responding to? The phrase “latest blog post” could do with a hyperlink.

  2. Priority one, fix the website. It’s really dated.

    • sherirubin says:

      Hi Rebecca, We agree it’s a priority as well. I encourage you to take a look at some of the past posts here as well as our meeting minutes (http://igda.org/board/minutes) to get the latest updates on the current progress on our website redesign project.

  3. Eric Lowe says:

    Dustin, the post you linked to essentially accuses the IGDA board of misunderstanding the implications of a board member’s fiduciary duty, or accuses some other party at the IGDA of improperly explaining to the board members what “fiduciary duty” is and means.

    I don’t know if that’s true or not, but since Kazemi’s post is essentially about board members misunderstanding fiduciary duty (or fiduciary responsibility, to use Kazemi’s term), it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence to see the board respond by saying that a board member’s primary duty is not *fiscal* responsibility. Fiduciary responsibility and fiscal responsibility are not the same thing.

    • LukeD says:

      Hi Eric,
      I feel like some of this confusion arises from an earlier misclassification here. Our fiduciary and fiscal obligations are separate as you say and I feel they’ve been conflated to create an impression that our sole obligation is to perpetuate the IGDA – which is obviously more about the money than our duty to the membership. This is not the case and was the point we were trying to clarify by addressing both fiscal and fiduciary separately. Apologies if this caused further confusion, and if I missed the point of what you were getting at, it’d be great to hear more!

      • csanyk says:

        Fiduciary duty aside, the gist of the Kazemi’s complaint seems to be that he felt ineffective at bringing change to IGDA, and that IGDA was too risk averse to try ideas that he brought to the organization.

        Putting aside whether his ideas were actually good or not, or whether he was effective in making a case for the merits of his ideas and bringing others on board to support his initiatives, it’s worth looking at how the organization can empower its board members to launch pilot projects in order to gauge their viability.

        Without having an insider’s perspective on how the board operates, it sounds like Kazemi was frustrated that he wasn’t able to persuade the rest of the organization that his ideas should be tried, and eventually gave up in frustration. But if he’s representing his experience honestly and accurately, then it’s got to be disheartening to be told repeatedly that “we can’t do X because if we did we’d risk losing some members.” There’s *always* risks when you do something new or change things. That sort of objection shouldn’t always win out — it’s up to an organization to figure out ways of trying new things without putting the organization as whole at undue risk.

        • sherirubin says:

          Hi Chris,

          It saddens me to hear Darius say that he felt ineffective and that he had “checked out” for a large amount of his time on the board. I cannot speak first-hand to some of the frustrations or experiences he relayed in his post as our terms only overlapped in his last year. What I can do is look back at the updates in the meeting minutes (http://igda.org/board/minutes) to get a sense of what was or was not proposed, who was or was not there, and go off of my own personal experiences.

          Board member or not, having been an active volunteer in this org since 1999 one thing I am VERY certain of is that there are thousands of volunteers across the globe who on a daily basis are working hard to make the IGDA, and this industry better. All kinds of ideas and projects are tried, some to success and others not so much, at all levels of this org.

          Global Game Jam, an event created by our Game Education SIG, is a great example of your comments on trying new things and seeing if they work or not. Although back then nothing like that really existed the organizers behind the idea were so passionate and so believed in their project that the board supported it with an initial set of funds to help the volunteers run the first year’s event. Obviously it paid off as GGJ grew tremendously over the years with the 2012 event even making it into the Guiness Book of World Records!

          I, personally, worked with several volunteers for years trying, but failing, to get traction with various events asking them for space for our group to hold a QA track or summit so my colleagues in the Quality Assurance SIG and I could have a forum to discuss elevating the craft and recognition of QA in the industry. It wasn’t until the IGDA was developing plans for the first ever IGDA Summit that things changed for us.

          As we sat down with one of the board members who was helping create the event and talked about our goals and ideas he immediately offered us a home at the event thus creating the first ever track at an industry conference dedicated solely to games QA. I see that a definite risk the IGDA took betting on an unproven concept and giving our group valuable meeting space considering we were admitting upfront how many other well known and established conferences had already turned us down.

          I could go on and on with all the examples I’ve seen or personally been a part of but I hope the above two show that the org can and does make small and large bets and we do try and support ideas our members and volunteers (board or otherwise) have where possible. It is always tough trying to decide what to do or not do when you are a mostly volunteer-run organization, but there are a lot of events, programs, and resources that exist today because someone in the IGDA’s history thought it would be a good idea and made it happen.

          I do agree that it’s always good to continue to improve and look for more ways the organization can empower volunteers to do test runs of projects. I hope you’ll reach out to me directly at sheri@igda.org so we can talk more on ideas you have to help make that happen.