2021 is now well underway and the latest Pocket Gamer Connect Digital is set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond.
PGC Digital #6 takes place from April 19th to 23rd, so to give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with some of our esteemed speakers at the show.
The conference spans five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and the return of our meeting system. For more details on PGC Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.
For today's spotlight, we spoke with Akupara Games community manager Christopher "Buddy" Sola who been working with triple-A games for five years and will be hosting a session called 'Don't Panic: How to Save Your Game from a Buggy Launch'.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about your company?
Buddy Sola: Akupara Games is an indie for indies, a publisher built with games industry veterans bringing experience and expertise to the indie space. With a focus on 'out of the box' marketing ideas, story-driven games, and excellent console porting, we've been bringing the best to indies for almost five years.
What does your role entail?
As community manager, it's my job to be the bridge between a game's developers and its community. At any given time, I need to accurately understand the state of the game's under the hood construction, as well as the community's impression of the title and their experiences with it.
Sometimes, this is the mundanity of managing bug reports coming in from players. Others, it's the excitement of connecting passionate players with the developers they admire.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
With a background in the competitive scenes of World of Warcraft and League of Legends, I could see how players could take games (and more specifically, changes to those games) wildly out of context.
When developers were clear and communicative with those players, I saw how easy it was for them to connect and my hope was to help foster those connections.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
Learn how to take feedback. More than many other industries, games require you to collaborate across disciplines in order to put out products and the very best members of the industry are those able to synthesise feedback from QA, design, programming, porting, marketing, business development and community, all into one, coherent product.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
I think the explosion of gaming that took place during quarantine has been amazing for games - particularly of the low intensity, high fun nature of games like Fall Guys and Among Us.
In my last answer, I noted that players are looking for more advanced systems in their games, but quarantine also proved that players are looking to have a good, fun time, even if the mechanics aren't deep or insanely complex.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
Strategy and simulation games, I think they are the future of gaming. The more I look at titles that folks are really diving into, the more I think the next generation of Stardew Valley or Factorio will define things to come.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
Players always improve. This is a more fundamental philosophy to the nature of humanity, I suppose, but players now are more sophisticated and advanced than they were 10 years ago.
The explosion of esports, for instance, is a tremendous example of the skill some players have, but also the explosion of complex systems in games like Factorio. 10 years ago, the crafting in Minecraft was amazing and evocative. Today, Valheim has an order of magnitude more recipes and players grasp that instantly.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
I've always loved the networking aspects of events like PG Connects! Some of my favourite games industry highlights arrived from IndieCade or Indie Megabooth, gatherings of developers able to chat with one another directly.
The full conference schedule is now live on the website. In the meantime, you can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.