Last year Midnight Status hosted a little gaming festival in partnership with Slover Library in downtown Norfolk, VA. We initially thought that perhaps 100 people might show up, max. When all was said and done, we ended up with nearly 5,000 attendees over the weekend of April 8-10, 2016 and the expectation for a 2nd year of PixelFest.
Our mission with this wonderful festival is "Growing Artists and Programmers through Love of Games!" and it's an intersting mix of fun and education. More or less what we've told people is to come in the door because they love playing games and think about working their way up to the 6th floor (it's a tall library) where they can learn how to make games. It was a simple formula that worked very well.
This year we've gotten a bit more ambitious by extending one of the unique value propositions of our Game Jam, a business panel. Game Jams are typically focused on the art, design, and programming of a game. We now call this the technical leg and have appended marketing and pitch legs to the event more like a Startup Weekend. What this means is that the entire MVP pipeline for a product is represented in 5 days and better yet, there's a prize at the end.
But, as stated above, it all started with a business panel last year featuring Zack Miller of Hatch, Beau Turner of 757 Makerspace, David Hernly of Starship Horizons, and Tony Powell of Philosoplay. I moderated the panel and we ended up with something our jammers really appreciated, a dose of business being inserted right in the middle of their Game Jam.
Last year we attracted developers from Raleigh, NC, Richmond, VA, and Washington DC to Norfolk, VA which is not typically known for being a game development hub. This year many of those same developers are returning to show off in our Indie Showcase or to partake in our Game Jam + Dev Con event so they can continue the long journey of video game entrepreneurship. Last week we made a trip to Baltimore, MD which has a very healthy indie scene and met with some of their talent to let them know about PixelFest. It's a grass roots effort to help indies get serious about the business of making games.
To help in that fine endeavor, we have enlisted the help of many mentors who will provide talks and classes on game development and business at our Dev Con. Chris Melissinos of The Art of Video Games will keynote the event on Friday evening, April 7th in the forum. Bill Ritchie, the CEO and co-founder of ThinkFun whose games can be found in any Barnes and Noble will share the story behind that global game business. We will also have leaders from NATO's Serious Games initiative, researchers from several universities, as well a several successful software entrepreners sharing their experiences. These presentations are in addition to hands-on classes from 2D Animation to Low Level Canvas API Rendering. In short, there's a plethora of education technically, socially, and financially with regard to the business of making games.
PixelFest provides a very unique value proposition because it is a place for developers to gather as well as players. In fact, most of the attendees are average game players who just want to have fun and they occupy floors 0 - 5 of Slover Library for the festival while developers gather on the 6th floor for Dev Con. This means that there's great opportunity for developers to quickly create and bounce their work off a huge audience all inside of a week.
Not unlike making a game, creating a festival involves iteration. We are happy to get the chance to iterate on PixelFest for a 2nd time. We are trying a few new and semi-radical ideas out. Hopefully, we will get many more opportunities to do the same long into the future and continue to help indies build great games, great businesses, and make the world a better place.
PixelFest Dev Con: