As people are moving from table to table networking with game developers, enjoying some complimentary pizza and drinks and trying out some games, Dj CUTMAN is providing some of his head-bobbing video game music remixes dressed as one of the iconic Mega Man Robot Masters.
While every event may not be in this exact format, Tech in Motion is a national networking event series, from the collaboration of IT recruiting firms Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates, that brings the local tech community together to meet, learn and socialize.
The Oct. 16 Tech in Motion event was co-organized by Emily Strassmann, a marketing specialist at Workbridge and Lindsay Lewis, a marketing specialist at Jobspring and brought together eight local video game developers and companies to show off their projects and offer insight into the game design industry.
Strassmann and Lewis knew that this particular industry was a good way to garner interest into the tech community as a whole. This is the first time the pair has organized a networking event featuring video games.
“[Games] are nerdy and geeky but it’s also sleek and flashy because when people think about video games, it’s something that you don’t have to be in the tech community to enjoy,” Lewis said.
“It was really great to meet more people in the gaming industry that you would not have met otherwise,” Strassmann added.
Local game studios like QuadraTron Games and Island Officials were present at the event.
Lewis and Strassmann were busily walking around the floor networking with game developers.
“I really think that connecting with individuals at events, as well as before and after, is an extremely important part of our roles as co-organizers of Tech in Motion,” Strassmann said.
“[The developers] really embraced that one-on-one aspect too, with so many people getting to try their games and have that hands-on interaction,” Lewis said.
In addition to helping connect aspiring game developers with the local scene, Tech in Motion events also try to bring awareness to the need for more talent to stay local in Philadelphia’s tech community instead of moving to more common tech cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
This struggle is what Philadelphia Game Lab, a nonprofit that was present at the event, tries to remedy in their mission to make the city a better place for game developers to foster talent and improve the game development scene overall.
“We approach professionals in the game industry and we ask them what sort of problems they’re running into technologically, then we try to solve those problems, whether it’s multiplayer, backend infrastructure or getting really high graphics to run on small processors,” said Brandon Harrison, project lead of Sonic, an open source toolset for creation of audio gameplay, at Philadelphia Game Lab.
“We’re trying to put Philadelphia on the map because we have so many intelligent developers and artists that just sort of get stolen,” Harrison said.
Chris Melissinos, curator and creator of The Art of Video Games exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, gave a keynote speech in the middle of the night that touched on how game developers are members of the tech community that are “not making software, it’s an expression of our humanity.”
This sentiment could not have been more personified in the various works of art that the numerous local game studios worked on, many being made up of only two to four people, sometimes even one.
Husband-and-wife duo Jason and Sasha Seip created their independent game studio, Backward pieS, in order to work for themselves instead of having to meet someone else’s demands. Even though Sasha Seip wasn’t allowed to play video games when she was little, her creative input along with Jason Seip’s years of programming experience produced “Let There Be Life,” a game focusing on building trees in careful consideration of the plant life below.
“We have to get people in Philadelphia to care about the tech community, not just because they’re in it and super passionate but because it really is a building block of Philadelphia’s success,” Lewis said.
Albert Hong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org