Boston Takes Her Place in the Video Game World

3/31/10

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Canadian gaming centers like Toronto or Edmonton (home of personal favorite, BioWare). “When people talk about game companies, they’ll talk about America, Asia, and the EU. But America never includes Canada, does it really? Boston’s got visibility.”

Most of the young developers I talked to were hoping to work for big companies in the field, or if they were indie, their first thoughts were focused on Austin. Austin is a cheaper place to start things up, and has a reputation for open community that we’re just building.

I attended panels on advocacy in the gaming industry, MMO player psychology, game PR, a documentary on the roots of interactive fiction (featuring culture heroes—founders and key staff of local game pioneer Infocom, both in the film and on the panel following), a session on producing podcasts through video capture in-game, an amazing talk on game rapid prototyping and the economics of agility (“fail fast” with graphs and case studies) from former IGDA executive director Jason Della Rocca—even a staged reading of a new play, “Of Dice and Men” from the Critical Threat Players in DC which frames basic human drama and the war in Iraq through the lens of a 30- to 40-somethings’ weekly D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) night.

I was locked out of other panels, not only because of SRO limits, or the SNAFUs of scheduling panels with insufficient time to get from one to another, adding in the queue at the door. But there was never a moment of idle time.

At the panel on women in games, Turbine’s Kate Paiz, senior producer of the recently reborn DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach) and an MIT-educated engineer of about my own vintage, talked about the strong presence of women in her company and the game industry around here.

But I found the testimony of young women from around the country disturbing—women have a steeper road to professional confidence in the game industry than in some other software and hardware tech fields, it seems. Although more of the issues seemed to be peer pressure from young men, rather than pressures within the industry, there’s a strong need for professional women in games to form up to support younger women entering the field.

I’d already sent email to the volunteer coordinator at Women in Games International (WIGI) to offer to organize a local chapter, but this session redoubled my resolve.

I came home from PAX happy to be here in Boston, and started organizing our new WIGI chapter through the WIGI LinkedIn group as soon as I landed home. We’ll have our first meeting in late April.

And I’m making plans to be on the show floor with my own game as a rising Boston Indie next year.

Shava Nerad is the founder of Oddfellow Studios, a game software company in Somerville, MA. Follow @

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  • http://www.dailygrommet.com Jules Pieri

    Welcome to Boston Shava. It’s nice to have another woman with an ambiguous first name join the local tech scene. :)