Last week I attended Casual Connect 2012 in Seattle, where I was also speaking (slides at the end) about what I call Selfish Creativity. There was an IGDA summit on as well, although unfortunately I wasn't able to attend that. Thomas Bidaux of ICO has a great write up on it, though, and he sums up my thoughts on the Casual Connect conference itself:
It was massively biased towards user acquisition solutions and monetisation services. It makes a lot of sense as it makes the most sense for B2B companies to be exhibiting at this kind of events, but it definetely fed into the impression it is all about numbers and gaming the poor discoverability of the different ecosystems.
This ties in with the one word I keep using to describe my overall feeling of the event: 'frothy'. In other words, lots of activity on the surface, but no real structural integrity or substance. There are only so many 'payment solutions' you can use, surely?
I was asked what I'd learned from the conference. Moreso than ever, it was "Nobody Knows Anything". Everyone contradicts everyone else with advice on what to do, what works on what platforms, and so on. There were a handful of good talks (there always are), notably the two from SpryFox and one from Wooga.
As promised, here are the slides from my presentation, "Selfish Creativity; Or, Can Making The Game You Want To Play Lead To Success". It seemed to be well received by the creators in the audience, which is largely who it was aimed at. (Everything was filmed, so the video should be online by the end of August I think.)
It's a games oriented extension of a talk I originally gave at ScotSoft 2010 (run by ScotlandIS). I've found examples of it all over the place (not just in art, but also in clothing, restaurants, domestic appliances, and so on). Independently, the same idea was included as point 3 in Austin Kleon's "Steal Like An Artist" list, and was also the topic of a 5-minute talk Brandon Sheffield (editor of Game Developer magazine) gave at GDC earlier this year called "Make Games For Yourself" (again, unknown to me). It just proves the point really, which is that we're not so unique that other people won't want what we want.
TL;DR: The biggest, bestest, break-outiest things are often made by people who want the things they're making.