Develop gets up close and personal with GDC Europe 2011 event director Frank Sliwka

Event preview – GDC Europe

As is only appropriate in a man with his position, GDC Europe event director Frank Sliwka has incredible enthusiasm for the games industry in Europe.

“What Europe offers the games industry is unique; we are able to develop quality games for worldwide consumers and domestic European markets alike,” he says.

“There is exciting growth and industry movement for Europe to come, specifically in the realm of social and mobile games. I believe we’ll also see a rise in independent game development.”

And those growth markets and burgeoning companies are in Sliwka’s sights for the August GDC Europe gathering in Cologne, Germany – the third GDC event for the continent.

“GDC Europe aims to create an environment conductive for learning about game development and providing business networking opportunities. All GDC events provide a forum for professionals to learn, network and be inspired,” he explains.

“However, if I were to name just one trend in this year’s event as reflected by the current European games industry, it would be social and mobile games development. This is illustrated by many of the talks included in the conference.

“We have Innogames, Wooga, Zynga, Spil Games, Gameforge, Playdom, Playfish and Blue Fang, as well as talks covering monetisation and financial models, and making the move from traditional consoles to social games. We also have talks on the Vita and android development.”

The scope of GDC is always large, however, and while the latest industry developments may have the thrill of the new on their side, they are up for some stiff competition for the attention of attendees from the larger industry come August.

“Some of the other talks we are excited about cover blockbuster console games, like Mass Effect 3 and Bulletstorm,” Sliwka says.

“We’re also excited for our new conference structure, which includes the introduction of our four new event summits. Similar to our other GDC events, we’ve introduced these summits to add an additional dimension of knowledge to the main conference tracks, by dedicating a focused lineup of sessions on emerging topics that are pertinent to the European games scene.”
The keynote lineup is also something that always draws in the crowds at the international GDC conferences, and GDC Europe 2011 is unlikely to be an exception to this.

“We’re also very excited to hear from our keynote speakers Jens Begemann, the founder and CEO of Wooga, one of the top three social gaming companies on Facebook, as well as Richard Garriott, who helped to pioneer the whole MMORPG genre with his Ultima series, and is now the VP and creative director for the social media games developer Portalarium.”

The GDC events across the world not only serve as a method for national and continental industries to present their wares to the international community, but also as a way for that community to head to and engage with those industries on their own turf. That same cosmopolitan operation will be in effect at this year’s GDC Europe.

“The conference’s content covers games and companies that are being developed and working not just in Europe, but across the whole world,” Sliwka says.

“As always, we can’t wait to showcase game development and business activities in areas throughout Europe – France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the Nordic countries – as well as hosting a variety of speakers from international areas like Shanda from China and both Epic and Harmonix from the U.S.A.”

It is left to Sliwka and his team to live up to the high example they have already set in the past three years, but judging by the confidence with which they discuss the upcoming event, they have it all in hand.

“Year after year, GDC Europe consistently delivers a high level of quality content to our attendees. The conference covers current themes and topics in the industry, such as the commonalities and distinction between European and American game development techniques,” the event boss says.

“Partnered with our content, the business generated at GDC Europe continues to increase, drawing more attendees from throughout Europe and other regions with established or emerging game markets.

“If you’re interested in game development and business, or are looking to connect with game developers, GDC Europe is a must-attend event.”

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