Northern Games Summit – Why Big isn’t necessarily Better

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Photos © Tommi Ekholm and Raisa Krogerus from Northern Games Summit

During the year I’ve been fortunate enough to be travelling to quite a few conferences over the world (GDC US, Gamescom etc), both as a speaker and attendee. As per usual I’ve been consistently wowed by the sheer amount of talent, brains and courage that the games industry keeps on attracting. But, while enjoyable, larger gatherings like GDC US or Gamescom is good for meeting an enormous amount of people in a very short time – they also quickly devolves into either slightly robotic handshakes and card exchanges or informal friendly gatherings of people I already know and enjoy. It’s not about the crowd either, it’s just that the format (bring 30 000 people and upwards to a single spot) doesn’t really lend itself well to actual proper meetings. It’s a bit like Tinder in that sense, there’s always more people to swipe right or left, so you constantly have that nagging sensation of missing out, thinking about the next meeting or just being plain exhausted from the amount of stuff that needs to be done. This is especially true if it’s your first time, or if you’re, like me, still building your network and trying to learn as much as possible from all the great people you’re able to meet.

Thing is, while the GDC’s and Gamescoms are an important part of the industry – we shouldn’t forget about the smaller outings. Especially not when it comes to networking. You’d think that going to a spot where there’s 300 times more people would = greater networking opportunities, but I’d wager that heading to a place with 500-1000 people might be as good or better. Why? Time. Taking the time to sit down and chat with the speakers, the publishers or investors and the people who’s brains you’ve been wanting to pick since you saw them at Nordic Game Conference’s indie night is nigh impossible when there’s a million other people who want to do the same thing, and a million other people you’d like to meet.


Photos © Tommi Ekholm and Raisa Krogerus from Northern Games Summit

This is where events like Northern Games Summit, Games Industry Conference, A Maze., Sweden Game Conference, Creative Coast Festival and RESPAWN finds their place. They’re all “smaller” conferences in comparison to the giants, but they pack a punch of talent with the added benefit of both you and everyone else actually having the time to sit down and chat about things. Not just business, but actual things. Games, sure, but art, tech, life and all the other things that are the building blocks of proper relationships. You can have a million business cards, and without a proper relationship with any of them you’re still kinda where you started, just without the need for googling people’s emails when you need to reach out to them. I’ve met so many great people at all these different conferences – from Artur of Flying Wild Hog to Hunter and Jim from Blizzard, Tatiana of MechBird to Brie of Tru Luv Media – and I’ve had the time to actually chat with them. Not just throw a card in their general direction and then pray to whatever preferred deity is around, which is what sometimes happens at the larger conferences.

Sorry to everyone I’ve been having meetings with while in a rush to the next one! The next time I’m heading out to GDC I’ll make sure to take a note from what I’ve learned at the Northern Games Summit and instead of asking about your business, I’ll ask about you. Business we can sort over skype, but connecting is way easier in real life.