Man, I have been such a busy little butterfly the last couple of weeks, going to concerts, workshops, competitions, and this week I went to the very first social sponsored by the newly founded Montreal chapter of Women in Games International (WIGI). The event was actually co-sponsored by Pixelles, a local organization founded to help women who want to get into making games through workshops and mentorships. Since both organizations support causes I strongly believe in my attendance was basically a given and it was really great finally getting to meet some of the people I’ve been Twitter-stalking for the past 6 months.
It was a moderately sized event, with maybe 100 people total in attendance, serve yourself booze and excellent food sponsored by Ludia. There was even a HUGE table of door prizes, including Deus Ex figurines and Sleeping Dogs posters, none of which I won, sadly. It was great catching up with people I’d met at previous events, including my gamer-girl-friend Alica from the Toy Company show and Jean Chan of Tribute Games, as well as meeting new people in the industry, whether they be veterans or noobs. There was even a little camp of Vancouver ex-pats that formed next to the beer fridge (go figure).
One thing that came up a few times during the event, and it was something that I’d been thinking about for a while now, was how different networking was at video games events. Unlike regular “business-y” events, where everyone is “on” and has been practicing their Dale Carnegie techniques in the mirror for the last three months, games professionals tend to be more… shall we say, …introverted. Which is actually kind of a relief for me. It’s hard to really feel awkward for long when you realize that EVERYONE around you is just as awkward. But at the same time, there’s an eagerness to make connections and an authenticity to the way people reach out to each other that you don’t always find in other industries. It really feels like you are making friends, not just “contacts,” which I think is actually key to inviting and growing communities.
The video game industry has been under fire a lot recently for not being inclusive enough, but these types of events, at the grass-roots level, really prove otherwise. I hope that events like this can serve as a model for the industry at large.