It's been quite a long time. The past two months have been insanely busy, so I apologize for my absence. February in particular was a whirlwind, as I attended the 2014 DICE Summit thanks to the amazing people at the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. I mentioned my scholarship award in a previous post, but I'll quickly sum things up for context.
|My fancy badge for the event|
In September, I received the Mark Beaumont Scholarship, an award started in honor of former COO of Capcom North America and Europe who passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2010. To honor this industry veteran, the Academy established a scholarship aimed at students pursuing careers in the business of interactive entertainment. In addition to financial assistance for school and endless bragging rights, the Academy graciously offered DICE passes to the scholarship recipients, including the Randy Pausch Scholarship winners. As a result, I flew out to Las Vegas on February 5 for an experience that would completely change my life.
Now, the Academy didn't simply plop us into the conference without any support. The organization set up an incredibly warm welcome to help us acclimate ourselves and network with industry professionals. DICE is a very exclusive event, with only about 500 video game insiders in attendance, which is a stark contrast to an event such as GDC (Game Developers Conference). In other words, this was a huge opportunity for any student striving to work in the field. Industry legends Don Daglow and Warren Spector served as at-large mentors for the scholarship recipients, also known as "Academy Scholars." In addition to providing general guidance, Don paired each scholar with a personal mentor in line with our professional interests and future place in the industry. I'll talk about these amazing individuals in just a moment. First, I want to give a general recap of the different sessions that I was lucky enough to attend.
|DICE lounge and arcade - a great place to meet people between sessions|
Now DICE isn't only about guest speakers. It is also a fantastic networking event, as the close-knit nature of the conference allows for greater access. To help on this front, Don matched me with two incredibly talented women in the industry - Perrin Kaplan and Connie Booth. Perrin, who now runs Zebra Partners with fellow powerhouse lady Beth Llewelyn, worked as VP of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nintendo of America for nearly 16 years. Perrin was able to give me a great behind-the-scenes look at DICE, since her agency ran most of the event. She also offered invaluable career advice based on her own expertise and knowledge of the field. It can be a little overwhelming to figure out your true place in the industry, but her reassurance reinvigorated me to take the world by storm. I will always remember one important thing from Perrin - you have to follow your heart.
|Connie and myself at the DICE Awards|
Next, there's Connie Booth. How do I begin to describe Connie Booth? Let's start with her day job. Connie currently serves as VP of Product Development at Sony Computer Entertainment America. Her involvement with the company spans 20 years and countless major releases, including a series that defined my childhood - Crash Bandicoot. Her accomplishments are a true inspiration to any young woman looking to leave a mark on the gaming world. In fact, I hugged Don multiple times for making such a perfect match! I ended up spending a great deal of time with Connie, meeting countless interesting professionals and soaking up as much wisdom as I could. Despite her wealth of knowledge, Connie was the most humble person I have ever met. While her colleagues throughout the industry shared their positive thoughts on her work, Connie refused to take a single second to brag about herself. She always found a way to turn it back around to her team. It did not take long to learn that Connie was not only a leader in the games profession but a phenomenal human being. She taught me that to thrive in the industry, you must be gracious, you must be humble and you must be true to yourself.
She also helped shift my perspective in a very positive way. While our professional backgrounds were a little different, she shared a universal law for working in video games - you must understand the game creators. In the business world, it is easy to become secluded from the people actually making your company's product. This separation is much more dangerous when blood, sweat and tears go into the final creation. Connie taught me to consider the game industry from all sides. Shamefully, I had never really thought of it that way. By building relationships with developers and learning more about what motivates them, I'm confident that I'll be able to effectively communicate on behalf of their works of art.
|The big show - 2014 DICE Awards|
|Academy Scholars with Don Daglow and Warren Spector|
To finish, I would like to sincerely thank all of the amazing people who not only helped make my DICE experience possible (particularly the brains behind the entire operation - Don Daglow) but were willing to share their infinite wisdom or simply chat with me about games! It can be intimidating to be present among such greatness, but the DICE community made me feel at home. I can't wait to go back on my own accord in the very near future.
As always, until next time!