I've been trying to put into words the flat feeling I was left with after the Serious Games Summit.
Perhaps it's the word "summit" that generates expectations too lofty to be achieved. I had dreams of heated conversation about the challenges within and for the serious games industry. I envisioned impassioned discussions about learning design/game design mashups. I was yearning for all the new game concepts that would fuel and challenge us for another year. Such was not to be.
Rather, it was a bit stale and under-attended. Sure, a few more corporate initiatives have been funded, but not for any novel purposes. There were a couple of new tools on the market that claim to make it easier to author/script/develop learning games. But all in all, it was same old same old.
This leaves me with vague unease about where serious games are going - or, better, where the conference is going. My sense is that the company that puts on GDC keeps going to the same people to help them with their programming for serious games. This inevitably self-referential approach effectively eliminates new ideas or new entrants to the discussion.
I raise this point because I've wondered for some time whether a conference focused on the ways technologies for entertainment are used for learning and productivity should be co-located with a conference for game developers. There are great benefits, to be sure, but so many topics get left off the table. Important topics, like achieving the right balance between learning and game play; or, cross-cultural play styles and their impact on serious game design; or, whether music enhances learning equally well in story-driven games as in strategy games.
If you are a serious games professional, are your professional development needs being met? Your professional networking needs? If so, how and where? Inquiring minds want to know.