Madison is already known for its tight-knit arts scene, including dedicated musicians and filmmakers, and now, thanks the expanded efforts of the , which represents all of Wisconsin in the international organization, held its latest quarterly meeting at the downtown offices of the start-up . He has been in a leadership position with the chapter since its beginnings three years ago. "My role as chairman is technically new," Francksen says. "The entire organization is going through a formal overhaul, and one of the effects of this is that all chapters must hold elections for the officer positions."
The stated mission of the IGDA is "to advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers." Francksen details the group's pursuit of this broad mandate. "The IGDA brings together gaming professionals to discuss and advocate best practices in areas such as credit standards, quality of life, education, diversity, anti-censorship...the list goes on," he says.
In addition to giving developers a chance to meet and chat about projects and challenges, the chapter meetings provide a forum for presentations of interest to IGDA members. The May 19 meeting was led by Sharedipity's Greg Tracy and Ray Ratelis of and Sharendipity, a tool that allows anyone to create and publish games that can be played online. The developer has come a long way in the last six months, with compatibility greatly improved for the average user, as Tracy demonstrated with just a laptop and Internet Explorer. He used a mouse to place objects on a playfield, and within a few minutes had built a basic, but working video game.
The nature of the software's tools means a creator could easily prototype a game to carry on to full development outside of Sharendipity. At the end of the presentation, Tracy announced that Sharendpity would be extending its testing of the software to IGDA members soon, before offering a public release.
Ratelis gave a presentation on mobile game development. The market potential for cell phone users versus the market for console systems is huge, and the challenge of a new platform is always welcome to a hungry developer. Ratelis walked through the different types of software he used to make a game on his own phone, explaining how to get started on making games as well as the potential of releasing them online for download.
Following these presentations, the meeting got a lot less formal, moving out of the Sharendipity offices to pubs near their Capitol Square offices.
Membership isn't required to attend meetings, but has its benefits. "We definitely encourage anyone who finds the IGDA to be of value to become a formal member," says Francksen. "The greatest perk, which covers the cost by far, is our discounts on trade shows and conference admission." IGDA Wisconsin membership is $48 annually.
Anybody interested in joining the IGDA or attending the Madison meetings is encouraged to contact the chapter. The next IGDA meeting is scheduled for July 28.