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Indie Mavens: Weighing up the benefits between digital and physical events for indies

"I hope that online meetings actually will help us open up the industry and make it more diverse"

Indie Mavens: Weighing up the benefits between digital and physical events for indies

As we enter the month of July, it's wild to think that most of this year has been spent under lockdown. As many countries begin to gradually open their doors and return to 'normality' once more, what will be the future of events in the games industry?

Digital events have been taking place in their droves in the meantime, with many more scheduled to come over the upcoming months, and potentially years. Is this the standard practice? Or will physical events return bigger than ever before? It's hard to tell so early on, but we wanted to find out more.

Steel Media previously wrapped up PGC Digital #2 last month and because of that, we thought we'd take the opportunity to discuss just how useful digital events are for indie developers.

So, with that, we reached out to our ever-experienced and insightful group of Indie Mavens to discuss both the positives and negatives of both. Simply put:

How useful have you found the digital events over physical?

What are the advantages and disadvantages between the two, and going forward would you rather see digital events continue or return completely to physical?

Astrid Refstrup CEO Triple Topping Games

I would say a healthy mix. The physical events are expensive and therefore some people can't attend. You also often need to be outgoing and good at socialising for many hours to get the right outcome.

As we are getting better at meeting online, it's now possible to connect with people faster and spread out over the year. I feel this provides better dialogue and a closer connection. I hope that online meetings actually will help us open up the industry and make it more diverse.

Zoom has become an integral part of the digital process

With that being said, I miss hanging with friends and colleagues and all of those unplanned meetings you do at a physical event. In the future, I hope to focus on one major physical event and then doing the rest online - also way easier when I'm soon to be a mother of two. GDC 8 months pregnant was a bit of a challenge.

Matthew Annal MD Nitrome

I know in this current climate there is no other option, and so I feel a sense of guilt saying this when I know everyone is just doing their best in difficult circumstances, but personally for Nitrome, digital-only events don't really do much.

We never really went to the events for the events themselves, but rather the meetings and networking that surrounded it. Without it being physical that is all but gone, and so I would have to say it's 100 per cent physical events from us

Ben Murch Co-Founder Perchang

I find that watching talks and lectures is best done at home in my study. With no distractions and heavy use of the pause and rewind functions, I can really focus on what's being said. The GDC Vault is amazing for exactly that and gives our studio loads of ideas about all sorts of things.

However, I absolutely love going to physical shows. There is nothing quite like walking around an E3 or Gamescom and seeing all the amazing titles on display. It can really re-energise your creativity. I've seen Hulk Hogan, Steven Spielberg - even met Matt Parkman from Heroes.

PGC Helsinki this year will take place in a digital form

Big shows are also great opportunities to meet with publishers and license holders, which isn't really something that happens with online conferences. Smaller events are great too for impromptu networking and catching up with friends.

We go to Develop every year in Brighton, and catching up with old colleagues by the beach is one of the highlights of the gaming calendar.

Going to events can be expensive, tiring, and time-intensive (especially when you get to the stage of having children at home!). I still love them though.

Previously our Indie Mavens spoke on about working from home as a developer and lessons that the games industry can learn from the pandemic.

Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.