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Speaker Spotlight: Playcrafting CEO Dan Butchko on the power of brands in game jams

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 kicks off on April 19th
Speaker Spotlight: Playcrafting CEO Dan Butchko on the power of brands in game jams

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 Playcrafting CEO Dan Butchko who founded the New York-based firm in August 2014 and will be hosting a talk on 'How Brands can Leverage Game Jams'. Tell us a bit about your company?

Dan Butchko: Through its nationwide network of expert developers and passionate fans, Playcrafting creates custom games, produces exclusive events, and offers brands a partnership like no other to harness the power of play.

Since 2017, Playcrafting has created over 70 video games and hundreds of hours of gaming content for brands, including Bose, Verizon, the NFL, ASUS and Schick. While growing and amplifying brands, Playcrafting also grows the game developer and fan community to new heights through classes and events.

What does your role entail?

My role entails management of the overall team and operations, business development as well as the sales department.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I love video games! I've been playing since before I could walk. I love helping bring new brands, creators and players into games in ways that are empowering, enriching and measurably successful.

Games have the awesome power to unite and inspire through play. That power has infinite possibilities from community-building to direct marketing and sales. I bring my passion for games, education as a social worker and experience in design/marketing to everything we do at Playcrafting. It's a dream.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

You have to start somewhere, and sometimes volunteering is the way to go. My first gig was doing volunteer graphic design work for Games For Change. I then joined many meet-up groups to connect with folks who were building games. I turned one of them into the company and developer network that Playcrafting is today.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

The pandemic has forced a lot of quick change for larger studios and events. While there are a lot of challenges, it's been exciting to see console and software adoption take off as it has been. Our industry was already growing tremendously year on year, and the pandemic has only accelerated that growth in a lot of ways.

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted smaller studios and indie developers, though. These are among the brightest and most innovative minds in the world and should not go unnoticed.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The pandemic has been a long-term game-changer. Even with social distancing likely to ease up, the world is a more virtual place no matter what.

I think we'll see more and more brands looking to - quite literally - get into the game. Remote and dispersed development will also become a more adapted approach for studios of all sizes.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

It has grown tremendously since I started seven years ago. Gaming is no longer considered a "fad" or a "subculture". Gaming is culture. Thankfully, it's getting more diverse and inclusive too. From the content of games themselves to the people making and playing them, the games industry is becoming more welcoming to all. There's still a fair way to go, though!

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

I'm really excited to give my talk and check out other attendees sessions, panels and talks. It's rare that I open up about our work with brands - this will be a big first.

Want more?

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.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 today!