Board Talk – Justin Berenbaum for July 2014

Justin_Berenbaum-IGDA_Board_Headshot-160x160I recently joined the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Board of Directors and as one of the rookie members of the board I came in with a few preconceived ideas. At a recent board meeting we had the opportunity to preview some of the Developer Survey results and it appears there are a lot of people with misconceptions similar to mine and many more.

So, I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to some of these while they are fresh in my mind. These are in no particular order and I hope they help a few folks, myself included, understand some of what is really going on behind the scenes.

1. The IGDA uses membership money to throw parties and events for VIPs.

The IGDA uses sponsorship money it receives from studios, publishers and other people in and around our industry to host networking events for our members. No membership money is spent on these events. In fact, if we do not get sponsorships then we don’t have events. This is why it sometimes appears that our events are finalized at the last minute.

2. The IGDA is only beneficial to people who are breaking in and/or students.

Like most member organizations, people new to the industry and students do see a huge benefit in being part of the IGDA. Whatever your experience level in the industry, you should embrace this. People just getting into the industry that have taken the time to learn more about the industry, start networking and educate themselves will be better employees and/or better prepared for life in our industry. We all benefit from this. Additionally, having had the opportunity to mentor some of the IGDA Scholars in the past and meet with some at E3, I find that passing on some insights benefits me as much as it does them. The questions they ask and their perspective on things both challenges me and enables me to look at things with a different set of lenses. There are tons of other benefits the IGDA brings for just about anyone in the game industry but this is not the place for me to go over them.

3. The IGDA is only focused on the United States and doesn’t care about international issues.

I can understand this viewpoint as it may often be difficult for people in chapters not in North America to see the direct benefit of being in the organization. We are trying to do more to help our chapters all over the world and I’m hoping we have some things to unveil in the near future. The IGDA has provided advocacy efforts with the ICRC, the South Australian anti-game ads, the King trademark issue and more. However, I’d like to turn this around and ask if you’re in the game industry and not in North America what would you like to see the IGDA do? Most of the organization is run by dedicated volunteers and we could use more of you non-North American devs to help us get there. This is a self-fulfilling mission.

4. The IGDA has a big staff.

The IGDA only has two paid staff members, a few vendors and a large number of volunteers. Most of what you see the IGDA doing is accomplished by a very enthusiastic and dedicated set of volunteers assisted by our two staff. So, if there’s something you believe the IGDA should be doing, help us by volunteering and taking the lead on something.

5. Board Members are paid or compensated in other ways.

No one on the board of directors receives any compensation for their time or efforts on behalf of the organization. Often the members of the board are spending their own time/money to do things on the IGDA’s behalf. This includes leveraging our collective networks to find benefits for the organization’s members and to help put on events, webinars, etc.

6. The board is comprised of /controlled by major publishers and studios.

This one I found to be the funniest personally. Of all the members of the board, I am the only one currently at a publisher, although many of us have worked with major publishers or studios at some point in our careers (). My employer has been very generous and understanding in allowing me to spend time attending board calls, doing work on behalf of the organization and more. I’m not sure what real benefit they are seeing from this except for all of the valuable things I’m learning while trying to help the organization grow, move forward and provide more benefits to our members.

7. The benefits of membership are few and/or limited only to US developers.

The current list of benefits available to our members by far exceeds the annual cost of being a member. In most cases, attend one conference hosted by one of our many partners and you’ve saved a lot more. The other member organizations I’m a part of cost double or more to that of IGDA and offer far fewer direct benefits. There are also a lot of other benefits including our newly instituted webinars and more. We’ve brought back the forums and we are working with several partners to offer even more things we’ve heard that our membership would find beneficial. Again, if you have an idea for a member benefit please contact us.

8. The IGDA makes tons of money from GDC and GDC Europe

In fact, the IGDA does not put on GDC or GDC Europe. The IGDA does not derive any financial benefit from these conferences beyond the new memberships and renewals we are able to generate from our attendance there. UBM, who runs the events, generously provides us with booth space, the opportunity to help run some of the tracks and to participate in events surrounding the conferences.

 

I’m sure there are plenty more myths about the IGDA, but thought these were some of the most important to debunk right now. If you have concerns, questions or ideas on how to help improve the organization, please let us know. You can contact the whole board by email, as well as reach each of us individually using the addresses listed here.

Justin Berenbaum
IGDA Board of Directors

IGDA Logo

2 Responses to Board Talk – Justin Berenbaum for July 2014

  1. MadRobert says:

    Thanks for sharing these points, Justin. I have run across many of the same perceptions. I know that the studios I worked at (before founding my own) didn’t seem to see the value of the IGDA. Let’s all work together to make the IDGA not only relevant but essential to professional game developers around the world.

  2. Luke Dicken says:

    I’ve seen people accuse all the IGDA Board of being senior corporation management. I was quite stunned and wondered what time-hole I fell into that I wasn’t a postgrad student anymore :)