Board Talk – Justin Berenbaum for July 2014

31 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


Board Talk – Ed Fries for June 2014

30 June 2014

fries_160x160The question we board members get more than any other is “Why should I join the IGDA?” Why indeed? We can make the financial argument that the dozens of discounts for software and events will pay back your dues many times over throughout the year. We can appeal to your sense of “doing the right thing” for the industry by describing our many efforts in “advocacy” such as our recent public stands against copyright abuse in the King case. But I want to talk today about a slightly more subtle but no less important benefit: being part of the worldwide community of game developers through the IGDA.

Let’s face it, all of us are busy people. We love our jobs and when we are working hard on something cool (which is hopefully most of the time) we are pretty focused and heads down. It’s times like these that the benefits of being part of the IGDA community can seem pretty distant, perhaps even a distraction. But take it from someone who has been around this industry since I published my first game in 1982: Things change.

In the decades I’ve been involved in games I’ve seen everything you can imagine. I’ve seen the fall of a huge part of our industry as happened in 1984. I’ve seen the rise of regions like China to become incredibly influential. I’ve seen young testers grow up to become famous game designers. More recently I’ve seen Free To Play, digital distribution, and mobile devices rewrite the rules for our business entirely. In short, what I’ve seen is change, and if anything, the pace of change is accelerating.

People have to navigate that change. People like you. You may not think you need to know the guys at the game studio across the street, or on the other side of town. But when things change and you find yourself trying to figure out what to do next, you will wish you did.

We are lucky to work in a business that is not directly competitive. If one game succeeds it doesn’t mean another will fail. Our real competition is the difficulty of making a great game and helping it to find its audience. Even when I was running Microsoft’s Xbox first and third party businesses I had close friends at Nintendo and Sony, and those friends have helped me in the years since I left.

Community can be fun during the good times, but it is essential during the bad. The people I’ve seen enjoy the longest and most successful careers are those who stay connected with their peers. People who treat everyone with respect. People who share openly with the community. People who help others. People who understand that their competitors one day may very well be their teammates the next.

Be a part of the larger game development community. The IGDA can help.

Ed Fries, Treasurer
IGDA Board of Directors


Board Talk – Tom Buscaglia for May 2014

28 May 2014

thb_160x160After almost 8 years on the IGDA Board of Directors, off and on, some call me a dedicated IGDA volunteer, others call me other things. As much as the IGDA often dazzles, baffles and even frustrates me, I must profess a deep abiding affection for the organization. Not because of the things it has accomplished. Or even its huge potential for good. It is because of its members. It is the community of developers and others individuals who help make the games we love that, for me, is what the IGDA is all about.

When I was elected to Chair of the IGDA Board last month I was awash with mixed feelings. Honored, scared, excited, and maybe even a little foolish. It certainly seemed like a fool’s errand, fraught with risk and having little or no tangible benefit. It is also limiting some of my good fun.

As a result of my unique place in the industry I have always been able to speak my mind, bluntly, or even crassly, at times. But that was OK because I was only speaking for myself and answerable to no one. For the next year or so, we’ll have none of that, as least not while I am Chair. Now, when I make any sort of public statement, even if I say it is only my personal opinion, it will be credited, for good or bad, to the IGDA and in some ways, as a result, everyone in our industry. So no colorful language (F-Bombs in particular), bombastic behavior or outrageous statements. That does not mean I am backing off….just putting tact before clarity for a while. Funny that the IGDA, which has always fed the kid in me, is making me act like a grown up. But no worries, I promise to remain a child at heart.

But, enough about me; what about the IGDA? Don’t ask me…I’m just the Board Chair. But seriously, the IGDA is really you, its members, as well as pretty much everyone else in our industry that we serve. So don’t expect me to be telling anyone out there what to do or suggesting their agenda. My only plan is to help the IGDA Board effectively facilitate the will of its members and to help meet members need and desires consistent with the IGDA’s Core Values. Core Values? Didn’t know we had any? We do and have had them for years. They were formulated in 2007 by a Board taskforce I served on.

These IGDA Core Values remain the solid foundation upon which this organization is built. And, they are worth repeating:

  • Community – We cultivate opportunities for our members and advance the profession when we communicate with our peers. We value inclusion and diversity as it makes us stronger, wiser and more relevant. We empower ourselves when we share information and opinions, collectivize resources and advocate on issues that concern us. We value the traditions and history of this community.
  • Professionalism – Game development is a bona fide profession dependent on the skills of talented individuals. As development professionals, we espouse conduct that is honorable and ethical, and beneficial to the profession, the industry and society at large.
  • Expression – Games are an expressive medium worthy of the same respect, and protections, as movies, literature and other forms of art and entertainment. We oppose any effort that would treat games differently from other forms of art and creative expression.
  • Innovation – We embrace and support “continual innovation” as being central to the medium of games, the game development profession and the IGDA.
  • Impact – Games and play are a major element in cultures around the world, with profound artistic, social, spiritual and technological impacts. They change the world in numerous ways such as entertaining, enhancing learning, inspiring creativity and innovation and forging new social connections.
  • Leadership – The IGDA provides leadership in addressing current and future issues affecting our profession. The IGDA’s role includes advocating publicly on issues that concern members, and on creating opportunities to empower its members. The IGDA provides leadership development opportunities for our members. As an individual member “Leadership means taking ownership, being a role model and a contributor to progress.
  • Fun – We are a community with a playful and fun culture, in an industry based on creating stimulating experiences for others. Games engage and entertain. Fun is in our DNA and we embrace that.

There’s a ton of goodness packed into those Core Values. (I kinda favor that last one.) Go ahead, read them again and see if you don’t agree.

The Members of the IGDA Board and I will be working as your volunteer leaders, along with our professional staff, to grow the IGDA and serve our individual members, to speak out on their behalf, especially when they cannot, and to assist them anyway we can and help them any way we can to further their careers. After all, we are a community. A community of individuals, not companies. A community of people helping people that make the games we all love.

This month the IGDA launched our Wednesday Webinars, and from that we will be building a library of content on issues relevant to developers. We are continuing to deliver real value too, through discounts and special deals for our members. And we’re just getting started.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions, concerns or ideas you have or something you might like to see us try to make happen for you. We may not always come through, but I promise we will do what we can to achieve the goals of our mission: “To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.”

GL & HL!

Tom Buscaglia, Chair
IGDA Board of Directors


Board Talk – Dustin Clingman for April 2014

14 April 2014

dustin_160x1602014 marks my 15th year as a professional in the Game Industry. How time flies! Nearly my entire career, I’ve been a volunteer for IGDA. I was advised by the late Erick Wujcik that being a member of the (then) CGDA was the responsibility of all developers. He told me it was our obligation to “pay forward” the help we receive throughout our careers. I joined up and tried to help as much as I could to honor Erick’s advice and his memory.

I’m very proud of the things that the IGDA has been able to accomplish during its first 20 years. Thousands of lives have been touched and improved by the hard work of countless volunteers around the world. It would be very easy to be satisfied with the fruits of those labors, but in truth it’s not enough.

We are a young industry full of bright and creative minds. The fact that we make so many poor choices is baffling at times. It’s time for our industry to define ourselves through bold choices and deliberate actions before the opportunity is permanently forfeited.

For as much as the IGDA has accomplished, there is still much yet to do. To be specific, there are two specific subjects that I believe require a massive shift in focus from the IGDA and its Membership immediately.

The IGDA needs to more actively combat racism in the game industry! We need to ask our Membership to publicly decry racism and to oppose it anywhere in our industry. We need our Industry Partners to also publicly align with our mission to stamp out this foul behavior anywhere it may be found.

The IGDA needs to actively fight against misogyny in the games industry! We need to provide education and training to arm our membership as to what steps to take to improve working conditions for women around the world. We need our Industry Partners to vocally oppose misogynistic behaviors on any level in their organizations and help provide resources to advance the cause of women in the game industry.

These causes are worthy of our time and focus. They represent some of the most important next steps in our Industry’s maturity. It is my sincere hope that we continue to see the IGDA’s leadership on these issues.

This month concludes my term as Board Chair. As I reflect upon my term, I’m personally humbled to have worked with the thousands of volunteers who make the IGDA operate. We’re blessed to have an outstanding Board of Directors and an amazing Executive Director in Kate Edwards.

The future is bright, let’s claim it together!

Dustin Clingman

GDC, New Board Year, Minutes, Announcements and More – 31 March 2014

31 March 2014

Hello IGDA members!

It’s the end of March. Elections are over, GDC has passed, and a new board year is about to start. So many great things are happening and so we wanted to give you a quick recap:

IGDA had a great GDC week filled with 20th anniversary celebrations, roundtables, social gatherings, great talks, and more. Keep an eye out on our weekly IGDA Insider to hear some of the recaps and to learn more about our GDC Vault discount in case you weren’t able to attend or were there but missed some talks!

A huge thank you goes out to our staff and volunteers who make our presence at GDC possible – the org thanks you for all your hard work at pulling off a successful IGDA at GDC!

Election and Board Member Transitions:

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our election and helped us to reach quorum! Two new board members were elected and a third one was appointed and they start their terms tomorrow! Read our elections recap post for more details.

Meeting Minutes:
Several meeting minutes have been posted and are available for review on our main IGDA site. Due to a technical issue we do not have any meeting minutes for December 2013, but a placeholder was put in the minutes section as we do have the pre-meeting updates available.

January and February 2014 meeting minutes are now live on the site and March’s meeting minutes will be up once they are approved in the April board meeting.

Board Talk:
Have you seen our new blog post series called Board Talk? You can check out Luke Dicken’s first post in the series here and Brian Robbins’ second post in March here. Outgoing Chair Dustin Clingman will be up next in April with his post.

Meeting Announcement and New Officers:
Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, 10 April where we’ll approve the March minutes, talk about the various projects, programs, and services the IGDA is working to create for you, and hold officer elections. Since a new board year is starting the elections for the Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer positions will be held. The election for the Vice Chair position is done 6 months after the start of the term. We will do a full release regarding the new board members and officer elections in late April/early May.

As always you can reach out to the board member working in your area of interest via email by using the contact info located on our About page – your questions, suggestions, and support are always welcome!

Yours in service,
IGDA Board of Directors