GEEK 2012 – Day 1

Today was the first day of GEEK. I’m afraid it’ll also be my last day there, as other things have cropped up (more to follow!).

Read on to see just what GEEK had in store for me and what was discussed at today’s event.

To start with, let’s get the games out of the way. The main attraction for most people today will have been the main hall which was fit to burst with retro games. Some of your traditional classics such as Micro Machines and Virtua Tennis were on display, but nicely enough, there were some more obscure and rare entries available to play. Godzilla on a Japanese Dreamcast was there to play, though I don’t recommend it. Virtua Soccer cabinets, BBC Micros, Atari Jaguars, you name it, it was there. A nice touch was some taiko drummers having at it on the stage. Most impressive and noisy. It was a pleasure to see the younger kids there being able to intuitively blow on a cart, whack it into the SNES and power on. Mario World has still got it, these kids were enthralled.

The main attraction for myself though was the discussion panels and the talks that followed it. Some esteemed guests were here today including Ian Livingstone and Adrian Hon. People that know their stuff and ore importantly for someone who was about to sit through them talking for 6 hours, interesting and thought-provoking individuals.

The first discussion panel was focused around the skills gap that seems to be widening between the games industry and the education sector. As I’ve stated before, the Next Gen report is spot on and with Ian Livingstone being present, a lot of this was covered. An interesting argument that came up was the idea that the games industry aren’t helping themselves. The number of accredited courses is close to nil. Those that do get accredited are then poo poo’d later down the line. How many companies offer apprenticeships or work experience? Not many. So it’s clearly a 2 way street to ensure that the UK get back up in the league table of developers (damn you Canada!).

Moving on, talks were given on a wide range of subjects. Ian Livingstone explained his story of how he came into games along with a brief history of video games.  We got a look at how urinals can be used as controllers. This may sound gimmicky, but it’s bound to take off. Adrian Hom got us to think about making public spaces ‘fun’. Stick up a poem, a piece of art, a simple message. Anything other than an advert, basically.

Tomorrow is the turn of the ‘indies’. This is bound to be very exciting, getting to have a look at some upcoming games and speak to the people (person?) behind them. unfortunately, I won’t be there tomorrow, as much as I’d like to be. I’m off to London for some other game related shenanigans. Check back tomorrow to find out.

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