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Building a healthy indie community in your city

In just a few years, Epona Schweer helped grow Sydney's local game industry into a thriving scene for independent developers. Here she outlines how to do the same in your city.
In just a few years, Epona Schweer helped grow Sydney's local game industry into a thriving scene for independent developers. Here she outlines how to do the same in your city. Back in 2010 when Schweer was teaching aspiring game developers at Sydney's Academy of Interactive Entertainment, she became concerned that the city offered few industry opportunities for graduates, and sought to help create a scene that could support a healthy indie game developer community. Schweer researched the development and business models behind successful indie games like Minecraft and Limbo, trying to find what their developers did right and what core principles were crucial to adopt. She found that those hit games had two real things in common:
  1. They all explored something completely new in terms of game development. From design to tech to business model -- it all grew from and supported a totally original idea.
  2. They were actively contributing to and engaging with their communities -- openly sharing methods, techniques and ideas with other developers and players alike.
"If we can create a culture fully focused on developing and fleshing out original ideas (as opposed to regurgitating the same old game mechanics and genre tropes), as well as encourage an open exchange of knowledge and techniques between developers, then maybe it'll be easier for folks to go indie and make better games sustainably," says Schweer. And to create a culture and supportive community for game startups, Schweer looked to other cities with booming game development scenes like Melbourne and San Francisco for ideas. She noticed that in those cities, industry folks constantly deliver workshops and speak at events, and the community openly celebrates success. Schweer set out to create the same kind of environment at Sydney, setting up workshops and more opportunities for open discussion. She also realized one of the major barriers for people going indie is having no idea where to start, and sought to make that one of the first things for local workshops to address. "And for community growth to be self-sufficient, these workshops would need to be deeply ingrained in the culture of the city, and not dependent on any one person or group to keep running," she added. Schweer shared more advice for growing a healthy indie community in her step-by-step guide available in Gamasutra's latest feature.

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