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Inventing a drinking game at Ukraine's version of GDC (DevGAMM)

December 8th, 2013. Ukraine, Kiev. Riots are in full swing, the Lenin statue just got taken down. I'm standing in front of 800 game developers, with a shot of tequila in my hand, and more full shots on the table. This is Game Lynch at DevGAMM.
December 8th, 2013. Ukraine, Kiev. Riots are in full swing, the Lenin statue just got taken down. I'm standing in front of 800 game developers, with a shot of tequila in my hand, and more full shots on the table. Next to me are people from Rovio, FDG, Funtomic -- al game industry veterans. In front of us -- developers, whose games we are about to tear to pieces. This is Game Lynch at DevGAMM. Ukraine and Russia's version of GDC. 


Game Lynch and is a bunch of game industry people reviewing games in a satirical manner. In front of developers. With an 800-people live audience. Right before the game awards show which is the finale of the event. 

pic: me pouring tequila, I think this pic is very funny

Last time though, it felt like we needed something different. Usually it's just 5 people "Lynching" 5 games, with comedy moments here and there. But as a presenter, I really love interacting with the crowd. 
Some backstory on the culture.
DevGAMM Kiev is a different kind of conference. It's focused around developers, and the organizers know that trust is everything in the industry. People are shy, so the event has sessions that force developers to talk to publishers via "speed game dating", there is a little IGF-style Pavilion, and you see infamous booth babes passing around shots. A beer tap starts working at 3pm in the middle of the event. It's a cultural thing. One you can appreciate and expect to make many good friends from. 
I was raised in Latvia -- which is a lot like Ukraine/Russia -- and understand how important it is to see people be genuine, at least in our culture. Not being all bizdev and trying to sell your service/game/whatever to people in the group, but building lasting connections with people who you find interesting, because eventually you will end up in a situation where you can help each other. Sharing experience and building connections, that's what any good event is about.
Back to December 8th
This cultural aspect led me to an experiment. During the Game Lynch prep-meeting (at lunch), I pitched an idea. A drinking game idea. That we were to play a game with the developers, whose games we were to Lynch. Participants loved it, so we got ourselves a bottle of tequila and shots for the session. Developers were not informed upfront. 
As I was opening the panel, introducing everyone, I realize we're about to play a drinking game. We will get drunk. In front of hundreds of people. We might embarrass ourselves. I have to switch between English and Russian while talking, but keep on worrying in my head in Russian, causing stuttering. Realizing this causes even more stutter. 
After explaining the rules, I think to myself -- screw it. Let's wing it.
Rules are simple:
1. An expert lynches his game, other experts weigh in
2. The developers gets a very short time to hold the mic, and defend his game
3. The audience decides who wins by clapping (this proved to be very confusing though, more on it later)
4. The loser has to drink a shot of tequila
pic: developer of Earn to Die in front of the panel
Surprisingly, the flow went rather well. Most notable we got into a discussion with the developer of Earn to Die on how does your car -- when it runs out of fuel -- gets back to it's garage, and who resets all of the obstacles.
After the panel, I was anxiously expecting negative feedback. Just take it in and never do drinking games like that again. To my relief everyone -- both locals and English speakers -- said it was naturally funny, and a good idea. The rules though weren't completely clear. People had to clap for us, and then clap for the dev -- depending on who's the loudest, a winner would be determined. 
pic: developer of Sheep Happens lost the match. To be fair at that point everyone was drinking. 
For next time, we will likely place cards under people's seats. Red/Green. If you think the dev won, put up green -- and red for the panelists. Something along those lines. 
There are usually 5 games on Game Lynch, so you can drink up to 5 shots within under an hour. My liver loves my job. This industry is fun. 
Disclaimer: everyone who participates in Game Lynch submits their games themselves. When you participate in the Game Contest at DevGAMM, you can choose to also submit your game to Game Lynch. 
Next DevGAMM will take place in Moscow, May 15-16 in Radisson Blu. If you like non-conventional games conferences, you should really check it out. This time I'm happy to be helping put together the content for the show, and it's shaping up to be awesome. 

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