My Experience at Casual Connect Europe 2016Feb 23, 2016 | 2 Votes by Aethyna 10 rate It has been a whirlwind of a ride at Casual Connect last week, and oh boy, do I have loads of exciting stuff to let you all know!
As you may have recalled in our last celebratory article entitled WWGDB Celebrates 500 Users, we’ve mentioned that we will be attending the Casual Connect games convention at Amsterdam... and guess what? We really did! This means you – our dear readers – will be treated to a range of interview articles and of course, exciting game reviews in the weeks to come.
However, before we go into the details, you might be wondering... what is this “Casual Connect”? Casual Connect is a huge conference organized by the Casual Games Association specifically for professionals in the gaming industry, including game marketers, game developers (both indie and triple A companies), game producers, and many more. It is a great way for all of these people to connect and share their experiences and skill sets with each other in an effort to bring the entire casual gaming industry to greater heights. Held on an annual basis, Casual Connect is usually organized in 4 different locations, namely San Francisco, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and Singapore.
Like the successful Casual Connect convention before it, this year’s conference in Amsterdam spanned a similar duration of 3 days and nights, but it was more tightly packed with non-stop events, lectures (by prominent speakers from various companies), and of course, meetings. This year, the organizing committee provides attendees with a very helpful Pitch and Match system, allowing us to schedule meetings and set up interviews way ahead of the actual convention. It’s a brilliant tool indeed, though it would have been better if there was an in-built messaging system of some sort as well. Perhaps they could develop an app in the future?
That said, no amount of preparation could have prepared me – being my first time attending such a convention and all – for the huge turnout on the first day of the event. After getting my press badge and entering one of the halls, I was stunned to see lines of booths, stretching from one end of the hall to the other. Although the booths are placed in the alcoves of the hall, each of these booths was prominently marked out with banners displaying their respective company logos. Some companies, such as Simplaex, even have some pretty cool (and eye-catching) décor that definitely set them apart from the other booths at the convention.
There was also a sizeable number of meeting tables, stands, and even sofas scattered around the venue that people could use for their meet-ups, or simply just for a casual chat. It was not surprising to see these tables or meeting points filled up with people at all hours of the day while chatting away. In fact, the chatter that filled the convention was almost like a constant buzz in the background, and it is this chatter that had contributed to the lively atmosphere that Casual Connect is so renowned for.
Not to mention, despite being held in a venue that is massive in size - Amsterdam’s famous Beur van Berlage – the organizers behind Casual Connect had managed to organize the positions of each element in the event, be it a booth or a mere meeting table, so precisely that the process of networking and connecting to others comes naturally. This is particularly obvious (as you can see in the photo below) when I visited the indie prize booths. To me, this is simply amazing... and well, it does make my job a whole lot easier! I can’t even count how many times I’ve bumped into someone, and from there, started a conversation with him/her.
Talking about the indie booths, this is perhaps something that you all might be super interested in. At Casual Connect, there are tons - and I do mean tons – of indie games on display. All of these indie games are in the running for the Indie Prize event and attendees of the convention are given the chance to vote for their favorite game. Of course, it wouldn’t do to just randomly pick a game out of the list provided, that’s why you’re actually given the chance to give all of these games a try and to talk to the creators behind the games.... as long as you have the time to do so, that is.
This year, there are around 140 different indie games, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through all of them. However, the games that I’ve managed to play at the convention have completely blown me away! A majority of these games brings something new to the game development table - may it be a new game mechanic, gameplay, or by simply providing players with a different gaming experience. No spoilers though; you’ll just have to stick around WWGDB to find out more. Not to forget, articles summarizing the many interviews I’ve conducted with various members in the gaming industry, or even the lectures that I’ve attended will also be coming out really soon.
To wrap this up, sometimes, it can be hard to truly put experiences and feelings into words, and my experience at Casual Connect Amsterdam 2016 may perhaps be one of these rare moments – I was totally awe-struck, that’s for sure! However, I hope I’ve done a good job of putting things at the event into perspective and possibly provide you all with the groundwork before “bombarding” you with loads of stuff from the convention itself.
As usual, if you enjoy getting a glimpse into such conventions and would like to see more of these articles, be sure to let us know by giving us a high rating.