2006-2007 Season Report, part 3: Gatherings Overview

Hi Everyone! Sorry for taking so long with the last part of the report, but it's been a hectic fall. The 2006-2007 Season that ended this June was our most successful one ever. IGDA Finland has seen some serious growth in several areas. If you haven't done so already, I recommend you read parts one & two as well.

In this post, we will give you a short overview of what happened in each of the 11 gatherings, so you don't have to go through all of the 11 After Action Reports to get the bigger picture image of how the Gatherings went. Here's a summary of each event:

August '06:

The August Gathering was a nice and mellow ‘welcome back’ from summer vacation. The evening started slow but later turned into a full house with the party continuing until well after midnight. In the end, there were a total of 106 attendees. Most of the evening was spent swapping stories about summer vacations, boggling over the unusual amounts of sunshine and playing DS lite. The games of choice were Mario Kart DS and Tetris DS. We also had the pleasure of greeting quite a few foreign visitors including a native of Japan and a few guests of Remedy from Microsoft Game Studios.

September '06:

Evening started pretty slow but later on people rushed in and the venue actually started to get a bit crowded. In total there were 107 attendees. People from Sumea, Mr.Goodliving, Rovio, Housemarque, Frozenbyte, Ironstar Helsinki, Remedy and Bugbear were all represented. Some attendees came all the way from Tampere, including people from Nokia and from Aukio Group, which was recently acquired by Universomo (at the time). There was also a representative from PhysX Ageia. New students from aRTO PELKO 2 (Game development course) were largely present at the gathering.

October '06:

On the day of the October Gathering, it was raining heavily. This gave us some cause for concern. At 7p.m. sharp, there was already a queue at the door. If this was because of the rain, then we like rain! All in all, the final attendance figure for the gathering was 101 people in total. Amongst these were people from ELVI project all the way from Oulu. System Club changed it's name to System Rock with new interiors and new music style. We made the igda.org main page with the (by now) infamous 'Queue of Death' picture.

November '06:

Again the attendance amount beat the odds of the yet again rainy weather. We had a stunning number of 210 people who attended the November gathering! To this day, this stands as our biggest crowd ever! The Gathering started with a boom, a huge line formed rapidly of people rushing to get the free drinks and food. Food started to disappear quickly as the night went on. People were constantly crowding around the representatives of our sponsor, Recoil Games. This time there were plenty of IGDA attendees hanging out until the 3.30AM closing time.

December '06:

The final IGDA Finland Gathering ended the year with a bang! We arranged a Little Christmas party together with our generous sponsors. Nintendo Finland / AMO arranged us with two playable Nintendo Wii consoles, Samsung brought in the 40″ LCD’s to play them on and AMD who graciously sponsored drinks and prizes to the competitions. All of this guaranteed that nobody could complain it was a boring night. We had a 209 visitors this time, with the line spilling out on to the street at times!

January '07:

The January Gathering was a success with 107 attendees. As snowstorm raged outside, the mood indoors was relaxed and filled with anticipation of the upcoming GDC 2007. Suomen Pelikehittäjät ry (a group representing the Finnish game development companies, not individual employees like IGDA does - see About Us page for our mission statement) was starting up and were there to hand out flyers to get the word out. There were a lot of younger folk in the Gathering and that kept the evening exceptionally energetic. Handheld console gaming was everywhere to be seen and people kept steadily flowing in.

February '07:

February gathering was held during the Southern Finland skiing holidays, which ensured that it wasn't as crowded as usual. Another factor probably was the cold weather outside (-17C). All in all, we had 86 people in attendance, some of them all the way from Oulu and even from Luxembourg. One of the main topics of the evening was GDC 2007. Most were excited about the program this year. The plentitude of speakers from Finnish companies this year was something everybody seemed really happy about (Lasse Seppänen/Remedy, Jeff Valadares/Sumea, Petri Ikonen/Sumea, Jani Kajala/Rovio, …). Another happy GDC-related news was that Liz, one of our chapter coordinators, won the IGDA student scholarship! Later she wrote an article about her trip for this website. But the most talked about topic seemed to be the fact that people from at least 6 or 7 Finnish game companies were about to fly over to GDC on the same flight :).

March '07:

The March gathering started slowly but surely. At the end we had 92 people who attended. Jyri had brought the MVP award (link #1 & link #2) from GDC 2007 IGDA VIP Luncheon for everyone to see and touch. Many people seemed to still be in a slight jetlag state. GDC highlights were a common discussion topic, many seemed worried about the size of GDC growing and how hard it was to hook up with contacts now that Fairmont was no more. Good replacement didn’t seem to surface this year yet. But every one seemed to agree that there was loads of good lectures again.

April '07:

April gathering turned out to be quite exciting and attendance rose up to 121 attendees this time. One of the most obvious things was sneak-peak video of the Flatout Ultimate Carnage. The Elvis pinball machine arrived to System Rock, to the delight of many of us. Thanks to the rolling video footage, Flatout Ultimate Carnage became the most common conversation topic of the night. There were a couple of foreign visitors, one from Sega Europe, one from Nordic Games. There was also a student group from Tampere in attendance, who were interested in setting up first Finnish IGDA Student Game Development Club (they have it set up now, here's their website). Besides Tampere there was also people from Oulu. ELVI project people were looking for suggestions for speakers to a small game dev conference in Oulu.

May '07:

The May gathering managed to hit the high-score for number of attendees for the spring 2007 with 150 attendees - that’s still the biggest crowd we have ever had for a non-sponsored event! Once inside, it was quite clear what brought all the people in: the chance to play the new PS3 title from Housemarque, Super Stardust HD before it's launch on Playstation Network in June. The queue to play it was constant and the crowd circled around the main event all night long.

June '07:

The season ending June gathering continued the strong attendance streak with 114 attendees. This time it was Flatout Ultimate Carnage that was being showcased via an xbox 360 demobooth with a playable copy of the game few days before it’s official street date. It was easy to see that the new law is now in effect, banning smoking inside bars & clubs. This caused a constant flow of people to the terrace outside of Public Corner and back to System Rock. At least the air is fresh from now on and non-smokers are happier to stay longer (let's see what happens when the cold Finnish winter hits :P).

Jay - Lead Chapter Coordinator