As DevGAMM Game Fest 2022 draws closer, we spoke with the organisers who earlier this year were forced to adapt their conference plans due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. PocketGamer.biz spoke to the conference’s organisers Anastasia Oleynikova and Lerika Mallayeva about the event, how they changed their plans due to the ongoing war, and where they hope to take their event in the future.
PocketGamer.biz: What’s been the biggest stress involved with setting up this event?
Lerika: “The War. The thing is, our conference was born in Ukraine and our three major events were in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Last year we lost our show in Belarus due to political situations there. And for this year we were planning three events, in Moscow, Vilnius and Kyiv, and in February we lost two shows. We’re not planning on coming back to Russia and we have no idea when we are coming back to Ukraine.”
The war has also brought a new determination to the organisers “Half of our team is from Ukraine and we still have people there we cannot leave. Our girls had to move to Latvia right now, so it’s personal to us.” As a result, they recently launched their charity initiative Make Games Not War with the purpose to support Ukrainian studios. A special Charity Auction event was also included in the Vilnius event program, which raised over 20,000 USD for the Ukrainian people. Lerika and Anastasia told us that part of the revenue from their sponsorship package and tickets were also donated to this cause.
How are you feeling about having the conference in Lithuania? Are you planning on coming back next year?
Despite geopolitical tensions throwing a spanner into DevGAMM’s plans, they have stated that they are delighted with the outcome of their Lithuanian show. “Ever since we have been in Vilnius we have gotten such a warm welcome from local game dev associations, from the game dev community, from companies... We feel like we’ve fallen in love with Vilnius and the local game dev community, and we’re definitely thinking of coming back next year.”
One of DevGAMM’s core missions has been to connect developers and publishers from Eastern Europe to the rest of the world, and the success of their Vilnius show saw 750 attendees at the event with the majority of attendees from the Eastern European region. “The next goal is to keep the good gaming industry together. All these people who’ve had to move around [due to the war], we want to still keep them together, connect communities. We don’t want to do events because of events, we want to be useful.”
What’s next for DevGAMM?
“There will be an online event Nov. 23-25 called Game Fest by DevGAMM . This is a three day online event which will build up around our DevGAMM Game Awards competition. We have been doing this competition for 10 years or something, usually getting 100-200 submissions from different countries, and we have prize funds each year. Last year we raised $40 thousand and split it between our winners. This year we have already raised $20 thousand. It’s judged by industry professionals, so art is judged by artists and we invite game designers. There’s a lot going on behind the stage. It’s really cool.”
Online events by DevGAMM were started during lockdown in 2020 to try to continue their presence across gaming communities and have continued to be a hit since then. During the event they not only host the competition but will also be hosting a Streaming Showcase where streamers playtest games with their developers. Check out DevGAMM Game Fest website to learn more.