More than a score at DevCon 4

On Saturday I attended the fourth mini-conference known  as BG Dev Con, hosted in Enfield (those of us not from London regard it as part of London, about which I gather we are incorrect!) by Bez Shahriari and Andy Yangou. I missed last year's event, but attended the first two and had a great time at both.  The key to this event is that, while it is a gathering comprising mostly game designers (from unpublished rookies to grizzled veterans with many published titles), with a few other folk with compatible interests, there is no playtesting allowed. The day is focused on talking and sharing experience.

About 2/3 of the attendees. Thanks to Dave Wetherall (of the Guild of Good Games) for the pic.
For me, the heart of the event is that everyone is encouraged to get up and speak, if only to introduce themselves for two minutes, and most of the rest of the day is shortish talks (many only around 10 minutes) on a huge variety of subjects, not all of which are obvious at first. This year we had a couple of different perspectives on art, a talk about using games in language teaching, another on the mechanics of parcel delivery services, some thoughts on the design of freeform LARPs, and a comparison of game design with the scientific method.

There were planned sessions of speed designing/concepting and some parallel discussions, but these didn't occur as the group was relatively small (I made it 24 of us) and everyone wanted to stick together rather than split the party. This resulted in some of the planned longer talks being sped up so that they could be fitted in, meaning that we lost a little detail, but the day kept up its high tempo.

Of course, this frantic pace gets very tiring, but there were several breaks of about 15 minutes (as well as the hour-ish for lunch) giving everyone a chance to grab refreshments, take their ease, and chat about the matters discussed so far.  This seemed to work very well.

So, overall an exhausting day with a lot to think about and a great opportunity to get to know a group of reasonably-like-minded people a load better -- and make some new friends along the way.  There is another run of the meet planned for mid-August next year (dates to be confirmed), but I'll be along again if I am able.  Thanks to everyone involved for a great day.

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