Nestled in metro Atlanta, this year’s Southern Interactive Entertainment & Game Expo (lovingly known as SIEGE) was my first of many experiences to come with Georgia’s booming gaming industry. This year, the overall theme of the weekend was connections – meeting like-minded individuals, having discussions after the panels have ended, making new friends and opening up to the rest of the community.
SIEGE is very much an industry event. It is put on every year by the Georgia Game Developers Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the growth and development of the electronic and video gaming businesses and professionals in the state. Local studios such as Hi-Rez, CCP/White Wolf, Silly Monkey and Tripwire attended this year, as did representatives from the several local colleges and universities which offer game design or related industry courses.
Over a 48 hour period, beginning Friday afternoon and ending Sunday afternoon, several panels and round-tables take place, focusing on specific career tracks. There were panels for designers and programmers, audio, art, serious games (IE: educational or military games) and business. Attendance at these panels is high, as there are students, recent grads, and people already in the industry packing the rooms to learn and discuss how they can further themselves and how their field can progress through these types of public forums.
Saturday’s activities also included a College & Career Fair. One of the ballrooms was set aside for recruiters from a few of the local studios and colleges to speak with students and recent graduates. There was also an open portfolio review and two special panels on Saturday for students to attend.
The Expo Hall featured Hi-Rez and their “spy-fi” MMO Global Agenda, which is currently in beta. I spent a lot of time ogling the graphics and watching others play each of the four classes in PvE mode (Player vs Environment). Each class is available to be played as male or female and are customizable. If they had brought a 360 controller along I would have given it a shot myself, but my keyboard/mouse skills are awful. Global Agenda was definitely the busiest booth in the room.
Some students from ACAD were in attendance and encouraging networking and social interaction with the game Suits. The game is based off of the work of Richard Bartle and blends social aspects with classic dungeon mechanics of role playing games. A lot of people attending SIEGE were taking part. I was mostly in it for the badges (which were shiny buttons). The person who turned in the most sets of cards, coins or badges in the various classes won prizes which the students provided.
This was my first year attending SIEGE, and I have to say that I was so surprised with the turn out and sense of community I felt all around me. I am definitely going to continue attending this great convention and I look forward to checking out each of the studios in the area. The Georgia Game Developers truly know the meaning and importance of community.