Ohio Game Developer Expo Interview

Ohio Game Developer Expo Interview

Written by Charles Husemann on 10/13/2014 for PC   PS3  
More On: EIC Ramblings

With the Ohio Game Developer Expo is just around the corner (October 24th-26th) the event looks to be a much bigger event that the event that was held last year.  We were able to get a quick interview with Christopher Volpe of Multivarious Games, one of the founders of the event to get the skinny on what people can expect from the event. 

Could you introduce yourself and talk about your background in the game industry?
I have a pretty sideways path to games development. My bachelors degree was in Fine Art - Photography, I then went into Healthcare, gaining two Masters degrees in the subject. While finishing my graduate school I began to become involved in the gaming community here in Columbus. I’ve always loved games, playing since the ColecoVision, but never really thought of going into game development as career.


How did the idea for the Ohio Game Developer Expo come about? Why have a game developer conference in Ohio?
The OGDE is something that had been talked about for many years. Last year, a group of us decided to give it a shot. We just wanted to get the ball rolling. Create momentum for games development in Columbus.

For those who don’t know how big is the Ohio game developer scene?
Ohio has a very active games development community. Columbus in particular has some of the most passionate people about games. MVG sponsors the Central Ohio GameDev Group (COGG), which meets once a month to showcase games from local developers. Ohio has some of the best design, art, and computer science schools in the country, the largest university in the country, as well as several higher education game development programs. Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Athens all have really strong game development communities.


How well was OGDE received last year?
The OGDE went amazingly well last year. We ended up selling out our speaker series at over 300 people, and had a total guest attendance of over 750. We achieved this with a marketing and promotion budget of $0. It was all word of mouth among excited and dedicated people who wanted to show their work, and grow games development in the area. We also gained the attention of COSI, our local science and technology center, who approached us about having the OGDE at their facility for 2014. 

What lessons did you learn from the event are you applying to this years event?
Logistically we learned a lot. Organizing an event like this is no small task, and we were all rookies last year. This year, we’ve been able to take what we learn and applying it right away. We have a remarkable Board that has been able to reach out to a lot of great contacts in the industry, which has allowed us to secure some amazing speakers and sponsors for the OGDE 2014.


Other than game developers is there anyone else who should be interested in OGDE?
Anyone who is interested in Video and Board games will find something to love about the event. We’ll have tons of great speakers, and workshops for those more career minded, while gamers in general will have tons of new games to play, as well as game tournaments with prizes from some of the biggest AAA developers, such as Naughty Dog, Respawn, Bungie, and many more.


Other than technical game development sessions, what kind of sessions can people expect to see at the OGDE?
There are a lot of interesting speakers and events happening at the OGDE that aren’t technical. We try very hard to offer a variety of opportunities for people to learn more about game development and the industry. We’ll have some great audio sessions and competitions, a session and workshop taught by DB Cooper, one of the most well respected voice actors in the industry, Unity Technologies will be there showcasing their new Unity 5, as well as sessions hosted by Microsoft. 


Who are your featured speakers going to be? Which presentation are you looking forward to the most?
We have a host of great speakers this year. Our most up to date list is on the website, with us confirming more people everyday. Of note, I’d like to see Mike Kawas, who has been in games for a long time and is the founder of Game-U. DB Cooper is a voice actor with a lot of experience and I think she’ll have a great talk. Scott Foe has a long history with mobile games and Howard Tsao is looking to do a talk on his teams experiences developing Guns of Icarus. There are numerous other people speaking at the event that I would love to see. Part of my role is that I get to approve the speakers, so I can pick who i think will be the most interesting. Unfortunately, part of my job is also running the Expo, so I probably won’t get to attend many, if any, of the presentations as a guest.


What are your long term ambitions for the OGDE?
The OGDE is just part of the plan to turn Columbus, and Ohio into the next Hotspot for games development. What we seek to do is empower people who want to develop games to be able to do that right here, at home. Ohio is currently experiencing a “brain drain” of creative and talented people who have no choice but to leave the state in order to follow their passions. Growing the game dev community, working with colleges and universities, and partnering with corporate and governmental organizations, we will be able to provide opportunities for everyone who loves games, and wants to make it a career without having to go out west.


Is there anything I missed that you think is important?
We’re excited to have people be a part of the OGDE, and look forward to seeing everyone there!

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I was a Microsoft Xbox MVP from 2009 to 2014.  I currently own stock in Microsoft, AMD, and nVidia.

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