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Gamers, developers set to gather at Columbus expo

While the Buckeyes are storming the field this weekend, some gamers might flock to Ohio State to meet with the elite of Ohio video game developers.

The Ohio Game Developer Expo is set to feature talks from industry insiders and showcases new games, and is scheduled for Saturday at the Ohio Union’s Performance Hall beginning at 10 a.m. Speaker and panel discussions are to be held at the US Bank Conference Theater. The expo is being put on by the Ohio Game Developer Association.

The OGDA is a Columbus-based game organization, which started this year, with the intent of increasing the activity and visibility of game development in the state of Ohio, said Chris Volpe, co-founder and board member of OGDA.

“We want to actively facilitate the industry in this state,” said Volpe. “Our goal is to build the community of game development in Ohio.”

Volpe said the goal of the expo is to give video game developers in Ohio a chance to meet and network, as well as to provide an opportunity for those looking to break into the gaming industry to gain some knowledge from more established individuals. The motto of the expo is “Share, Learn and Connect.”

The expo is set to feature a speakers who will discuss different aspects of the gaming industry. Some of the topics covered are to include how to develop your own games and how to run a successful game business.

“We wanted people to get others excited about game development,” Volpe said. “You will leave with the basic tool set to get started working in gaming.”

Stephan Smith, president of FreshGames, a developer of mobile and desktop games, is set to speak at the expo.

“Stephan Smith is someone I’m really excited to hear from,” said Jim Pickett, one of the OGDA board members and a web/graphic designer for OSU. “Steve has a lot of industry experience … his insights and experience has always been great advice.”

There wil also be free-form panels for experienced game designers to discuss the creative aspects of the industry.

“I’m personally looking forward to the creative panel,” said Wesley Adams, an OGDA board member and professional courseware developer. “They include a lot of different people from the industry.”

Besides the speakers, the expo is also set to feature a game showcase where developers can show off their newest titles, such as “The Ballads of Reemus.”

In addition to the game releases, Volpe said the Wexner Medical Center is scheduled to present some of its new technology which utilizes the Microsoft Kinect to assist patients in rehab.

A portion of the expo is also set to feature video game tournaments as well as prize raffles, with all funds received being given to charity. OGDA has partnered with the organization ExtraLife to use the expo as a way to raise money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“We don’t have a goal in mind,” said Volpe in regards to the size of the donation. “We just want to get people in there, playing and having a good time and supporting a good cause.”

Volpe said the OGDA originally planned for the expo to be only have about 50 attendees. After starting to contact Ohio game developers Volpe said the OGDA board realized the event was a more popular idea than they originally anticipated. Volpe said 200 tickets to the event have already been sold, and he plans for more to show up at the door.

“As soon as we started selling tickets, we realized there was a huge demand for this,” Volpe said.

Volpe said that he and the rest of the OGDA board thinks the expo will be a good way to increase Ohio’s visibility in the video game industry.

“The whole reason why I’m still doing this in Ohio is there are so many benefits to starting a company in Ohio,” Adams said. “I feel like we just need to get ourselves out there to say that there are developers in Ohio.”

Similarly, Volpe said he feels it applies to Columbus specifically.

“Columbus in particular has one of the largest universities in the country … some of the best art and design schools in the country,” Volpe said. “We’re a very smart city, a very technologically capable city. We have tremendous potential.”

Tickets are available for the speaker series, $15 for a regular pass, and $8 for students and $20 at the door. The game showcase is free to the public.

One comment

  1. I attended the expo and it was great. There were several speakers and presentations that were absolutely astounding. We even had several who have spoken at GDC there so it was awesome to have those high caliber people right here in Ohio and even here on campus. The ticket prices were incredibly affordable for getting full access passes! I can’t wait to hear about next year… If you’re interested in this stuff, check out their website at ohiogamedevexpo dot com

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