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Frisco event helps aspiring game developers: Game Developers Boot Camp held at NTEC
Attendees of the Game Developers Boot Camp at NTEC in Frisco learn about important business topics related to starting a videogame studio. Photo by Anthony Tosie.
The North Texas region may not seem like it'd be a hotbed for videogame developers, yet it's quickly becoming just that.
At Frisco-based NTEC's Game Developers Boot Camp on Wednesday, hosted in coordination with the International Game Developer Association, aspiring game designers got the chance to learn about important business-related topics.
The discussion focused on areas new videogame startups traditionally overlook, such as proper marketing, legal decisions and ways to obtain funding.
The event, which was hosted by Mike Sanders and Mark Methenitis, co-chairs of the IGDA's Dallas chapter, was designed to get up-and-coming game developers to consider what they need to do to start a company.
"There are 58 videogame studios in the area, and a lot of the problems [startups] run into are the same," Sanders said. "They know how to build a game, but they don't know how to market it. They don't know to protect their intellectual property. They have nightmares about things like how they pay their staff."
Collin County cities are home to many North Texas studios, such as Zynga with Friends in McKinney and Gearbox Studios in Plano, which plans on moving its headquarters to Frisco late next year.
Methenitis agreed with Sander's assessment of what problems they see most often and said some topics are frequently asked about at events like the one hosted on Wednesday.
"Marketing and legal are two of the topics people have the most questions about, because they're the ones that can trip people up the easiest," Methenitis said. "They also require some specialized knowledge, which makes it even harder. It's important [that you know] you can't always handle everything yourself."
Justin Korthof, community manager of of Plano-based Bad Robot Entertainment, stressed to the audience the importance of building relationships with people who play their games.
"Once you get out and talk to your audience, you'll hear about how they play games you never knew you were competing against," Korthof told the audience. "It's important to play those games and find out what people like and don't like about them."
Korthof added that Bad Robot, which is comprised primarily of former Microsoft employees, closely monitors what people are saying about their games -- both good and bad.
Another area Korthof said was key for startups was formulating a marketing plan.
"Determine your marketing budget as early as you can so you know what you're working with," he said. "Putting together a marketing plan really forces you to think about areas [of marketing] you may have never thought of before."
One slide Korthof showed at the event emphasized just how important marketing is in a crowded marketplace: Apple's app store for its mobile devices (including the iPad and iPhone) and Google's Android app store each have more than 700,000 apps available for download, a large percentage of which are games.
The Wednesday event was the first in a series of events hosted by NTEC and the IGDA. Seven additional events are scheduled to take place from Jan. 23 to April 17.
Those events will discuss more specific topics, Sanders said, and allow aspiring developers to get more experience with the more intricate areas of business topics pertaining to videogame development.
"This event is really just an overview," he said. "We want to get them to the other events, where we'll go really in-depth and give them the tools, let them talk to developers, that kind of thing."