This was the first time I have been to Casual Connect, a conference focusing on the casual,social and mobile games industry. My first impression upon entering the event was that the people running it really have their act together. To start, there must have been at least 40 booths spread throughout the conference floor, representing a wide variety of companies, products and other services. They had tables and chairs around the main floor, which helped to encourage people to mingle. It seemed to be constantly full of people and very active.
As for the talks themselves, I will say that I was a bit underwhelmed. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but I know I was wishing for a lot more. There were several reason for the disappointment. Several of the talks seemed to be more of a product pitch than about giving a lesson. This is probably due a bit to the general nature of this industry, where everyone has to be part salesman in order to survive. Even the panels were lacking intrigue. For example, there was a panel called Hype or Real, which was meant to clarify and challenge people’s ideas of what’s going on in the industry. The only problem is that in more than half the categories, everyone completely agreed. Even when they disagreed, they didn’t really take any stance on the issue. I wasn’t expecting to get clear answers, but I was expecting some discourse.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t get anything out of it or that it wasn’t worth the money. There were a few presentations that were very informative, with plenty of case studies and data. From what I understand, most presenters will be putting their slides up online and the sessions were recorded on video. Everyone seemed very open to spreading knowledge and helping each other, which was nice to see and increased the value of the event.
As I am only one person, it’s hard to evaluate the quality of the content of all the talks. Even more unfortunate, is that due to a family emergency, I could only attend the last two days, which meant I could really only see about ten presentations. I can say that I did enjoy the conference and would definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to develop casual or mobile games, especially if you are wanting to get connections. Anyways, I took plenty of notes and I will sum up what I learned soon.