The global video game industry generated $93 Billion last year, and is set to grow to $111 billion by next year. Mobile games specifically have changed the business model of gaming, lowering the barriers of entry both in the creation and the consumption of game content. No longer are large studios required to create multimillion dollar grossing games, instead small teams of independent designers and developers are able to use a wide range of freely available tools. The large console manufacturers such as Microsoft and Sony have been forced to compete with the mobile App Store models used by Apple and Google, creating their own marketplace for independent games.
Gaming is no longer restricted to purely entertainment; video games and storytelling have been used as a delivery method in education for decades. The mechanics of gaming have been applied to marketing, health and education through the ‘gamification’ of everyday tasks through various social media platforms. With Jamaican and Caribbean nationals gaining access to gaming technology, the region must now begin to interrogate and engage these international trends for the employment creation and economic development.
The conference aims to launch a game design and development subsector in Jamaica and to initiate a network of game development for various practitioners and researchers. While the conference will be accessible to a general interest audience, the event specifically targets youth, education specialists, investors and information technology professionals.
The first day of the Conference will include an Opening Ceremony as well as various plenary and panel presentations by gaming industry professionals and academics. The Opening Ceremony will be broadcast live and presentations during this day will be streamed.
The second day will include an all-day Game Development Challenge workshop in which conference participants will be exposed to various demonstrations in gaming software applications.
The keynote plenary presentation will be given by Professor Joseph Saulter who is the cofounder of The Urban Video Game Academy and is currently the president of the DeKalb Council of the Arts, and chairman of the Diversity Advisory Board at the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). Professor Saulter is a full-time faculty member at the Art Institute of Atlanta in the field of audio production and is also the CEO of Entertainment Arts Research Inc. which is the first African American-owned 3D video-game development company in the United States.
The Game Development Workshops on the second day will be facilitated by Dr. Gary Liu, Vice President of Entertainment Arts Research Inc. He is experienced in commercial and educational game engines and software environments such as Stencyl and Scratch. The Game Development Workshop aims to expose novice game designers to the tools and techniques of game design and development.