Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NM Video Game Uprising!


From the NM Business Weekly:
Calling All Geeks!

By Megan Kamerick

Attention downtown Albuquerque convenience stores: Load up on the energy drinks and junk food. The gamers are coming.

Memorial Day weekend will usher in a new event that industry advocates hope will be one more piece in the gaming puzzle for Albuquerque.

The National Video Game Association's Super Con is the brainchild of Jason Montoya, one of the founding members of the association and owner of the New Mexico chapter, X-topia, one of seven in the U.S. The three-day event will take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center and feature workshops, speakers on the gaming industry and, of course, gaming and gaming tournaments.

Montoya said the E3 Media and Business Summit in California used to be the top place for gamers to go, but it became so large (upwards of 60,000 attendees), that it is now open only to industry professionals.

"This was the opportunity we saw," Montoya said. "There is a huge vacuum for players, and companies that want to touch players."

He wants to make this an annual event for Albuquerque, with a large national following. This year, he estimates getting 250 to 500 attendees. X-topia's local events routinely attract at least 200, Montoya said.

He is working with the other National Video Game Association chapters to publicize the event and also using certain Web sites and online gaming forums. Sponsors for the Super Con include GameStop, Play N Trade, Gamers Anonymous, Computer Power User magazine, Vroom Foods and Geeks.com.

Luke Nihlen, who works with Albuquerque game development firm Abalone Studios and owns the company Tenth Artist, will conduct a game design workshop with Jonathan Whetzel from Sandia National Laboratories and Eric Renz-Whitmore, chapter president of the International Game Developers Association. Attendees will learn basic game development, then come up with an idea or a demo and pitch it to a panel of judges for a cash prize.

Nihlen said events like this one help get the game industry in New Mexico out of a stalemate.

"Students are interested in games -- over half of them want to make games. The industry will double in size in the next two years and we need talent," Nihlen said. "But I think a lot of kids don't take the idea of working in the game industry seriously in Albuquerque because they don't see it here and they don't see it in schools. The schools aren't talking about it, and the industry's not coming here because they don't see a talent pool."

More at Calling All Geeks!

And... the folks at Novint have jumped in in a big way, setting up some special tournaments for Falcon-optimized games. Read more at the Novint Blog.

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