Austin is the MMO capital of the world, home to countless independent developers, and has Microsoft, Nintendo, and Midway studios working on next generation titles, respectively. Many successful games have been developed in Austin, including the Ultima Series, the Wing Commander Series, Deus Ex, Brute Force Metroid Prime, and Area 51 to name a few. Besides rich contributions to the game industry, Austin is a destination of renown -- to prove it, there will be an after-conference party on 6th street, open to attendees.
The conference last year drew a reported fourteen-hundred people. The turnout this year is expected to be higher. Dual-keynotes were delivered by Scott Henson from Microsoft Xbox, and Glen Van Datta from Sony, Computer Entertainment. The second morning's keynote was delivered by Edward Castronova, from Indiana University. Other highlights included the first iteration of the Women's Game Conference, several interesting talks by well known MMO developers, and a dust-up between Mark Jacobs and Richard Garriott.
Expect more of the same. More attendees, more good talks, more tracks than you can possibly attend. There will be three concurrent conferences:
Women's Game Conference, 9/26-27
Last year marked the first Women's Game Conference, and the jury is still out on that one. This one will decide things. Look for Brenda Brathwaite on Sex and Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka on Marketing. Next Generation has interviews with both over the next couple of days.
Game Writers Conference, 9/26
This will be the first Game Writers Conference. Chaired by Susan O'Connor, it features an all-star cast, including local writers Harvey Smith and Allen Varney, as well as creative directors and game writers from across the country.
Austin Game Conference, 9/27-28
This is the main event. First morning keynote by John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment. Second morning keynote by Dr. Richard Bartle of M.U.D. fame. Countless other well-known speakers, and interesting talks.
Expect some interesting rumors. Throw in an exhibit hall and a Machinima Theater and you've got a full three days.
Texas is a major player in the games business. Dallas is the home of the first-person shooter, Austin the MMO capital of the world. And both feature numerous cutting edge PC and next generation console development houses.
Technological and economic interest aside, the people of Texas are ever welcoming. In that spirit, the Mayor of Austin is holding a reception to honor the game industry.