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A call for communication: UK developers 'need to network more', argues TIGA

Meet-ups make a huge difference

A call for communication: UK developers 'need to network more', argues TIGA
UK trade association TIGA has claimed developers across the country need to attend more networking events in order to strengthen their businesses.

The call for a greater sense of community has been made in response to comments by Ash Morgan - studio head at Dojit Games and an organiser behind networking event Game Dev Midlands.

"No one talks," Morgan explained to PocketGamer.biz earlier this week.

"TIGA has started to run events but only senior people attend them. Lots of people talked about their recent Leamington Spa event but only about 20 people showed up."

Community spirit

In reply, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson has issued a statement echoing Morgan's insistence on the value of community meet-ups.

"I totally agree that developers need to network more," Wilson began.

"That's why TIGA has previously supported GameDev North in its endeavours and why we also organise our own networking events around the UK."

Headcounts

The two men are in agreement on the value of developer events, then, although Wilson insists that TIGA's efforts in this department are more popular than Morgan made out.

"Our events are open to members and non-members and some are free to attend," Wilson continued.

"Our Leamington Spa event, for example, was free and in fact had more than 40 attendees, and was popular with the people who came along.

"TIGA has organised another GameDev night in Guildford tomorrow between 6pm and 9.30pm at Stevens & Bolton LLP, Wey House, Farnham Rd, Guildford. Developers – come along, it's free to attend."
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PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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James Coote
The problem is these events have to be on weeknights as weekends, people are doing things with family or whatnot. Getting from work, to the event, and back is difficult outside of London. You can't necessarily just hop on the tube (especially if you want to have a drink afterwards, which is when half the networking actually happens anyway), and if you get stuck in traffic, or work keeps you busy later than usual, you miss half the show anyway (a lot of indies have regular non-game dev jobs during the day or are contracting and don't get a choice if the boss decides it isn't going home time yet)

As well you need to grab some dinner in-between (the TIGA night I went to back in the summer did this right by laying on a buffet, but stupid as it sounds, talking with your mouth full isn't the best way to network))

I organised a few OUYA-themed events, and of the two I did in London, I got 60 odd attendees (though many of them were developers in other IT sectors, rather than specifically game devs). The one I have lined up for Leeds but so far I only have 10 attendees registered. My friend asked me if I wanted to go to the TIGA night in Guildford but as an indie dev, I can't afford to take a 2 hour train into London, then another train back out to Guildford (quite aside from the 6 hour round trip travel time).

My local indie game dev meetup group have monthly meets in the same pub and it's good in one regard that you can make friends with the same people and see how different devs are progressing from month to month. But at the same time, it's a case of encouraging people to come along or even hear about this sort of thing in the first place. I met a guy last week at the local meet who had been doing indie game development for 2 years and he'd only just heard about the group. I've met other developers by sheer chance that they happened to put their location beneath their avatar on a forum.

I think as well, it isn't obvious what people will get out of these events, especially if they aren't looking for a publisher or new job or "cross-promotional advertising agency" or whatnot. Not to say these things aren't useful and it is always good to network, but it's a tough sell when already working in an industry with long hours, or sacrificing precious free time that could be spent working on the game

There are other things as well. It does take confidence and an outgoing nature to go meet a bunch of total strangers when programmers in particular are not famed for their social skills. That might be an unfair stereotype, but realistically, sitting behind a computer in an office all day breeds a different temperament to customer-facing jobs and industries

I myself am going to try and attend the GamedevNorth leeds event this weekend, as well as the Ga-ma-yo event at the start of next month, and I think it's great that organisations like Gamedev north and TIGA are trying to get people connected beyond just London. But it's an uphill struggle for the aforementioned reasons