Statement on NZGDC Feedback
I’m Lucy Weekley, the project manager for NZGDC, and I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly positive response to NZGDC19, and also address the common critical feedback with the highest level of transparency.
The NZGDA isn’t a faceless organization — we’re all volunteers that love the games industry and work tirelessly to grow the local industry and the opportunities within. We see the NZGDC as one of the main events of the year where the developers, investors, students and hobbyists can learn, engage and network. To deliver a great event for all is our primary goal.
The NZGDC team takes all your feedback and concerns very seriously and works actively to find solutions, improve the experience and minimise any potential issues.
Here are the common pain points we have discovered, our takeaways and proposed solutions:
“I couldn’t get into the talks I wanted to attend.”
Space was definitely an issue! While we are still shopping around for the location/venue for NZGDC20, we will be anticipating a higher attendance, which will allow more space, more talk attendance, and more ticket sales. Unfortunately, we don’t have a way to know what talks will be extremely popular before the conference. We did create the schedule with an estimated attendance in mind, but being fallible humans, plus some necessary last-minute schedule changes, some rooms quickly reached maximum capacity and not everyone could attend their desired session(s). We are going to improve this to our best ability, with booking additional space and looking at how to better estimate the attendance of each session. However, please keep in mind that like any other conference or event, we cannot guarantee that everyone is able to get into every session they desire.
“My allergy/dietary requirement wasn’t accounted for.”
While many people put their allergies into the “Anything else you’d like to tell us?” section on the registration form, we should have asked explicitly about allergies, and will do so in the future. The lack of food labels for the lunch on Thursday was a logistical error at the venue. But rest assured that NZGDC will always cater for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free, and that the venue staff can provide information on what is in each dish if it’s not immediately obvious or labelled clearly. Venues will often be able to make single plates for very specific food sensitivities, even when we are serving a buffet-style lunch, so please reach out to us before the conference next year so we can make sure there is a special meal for you. That being said, please let us know if you have a severe food allergy — we can’t make sure the food at the venue is safe if we don’t know about the allergy prior to the event, as the venue needs advance notice to prevent cross-contamination.
“Why didn’t you record the talks?”
This is a longer answer than I’m sure anyone who asked this question is anticipating, but here it is! In 2018, the footage we received was unusable (through no fault of the operators!). An important note about conferences is that they’re very expensive — far more expensive than I ever imagined before I was the one organizing them! So something seemingly very simple, such as a stationary camera recording the sessions, costs around $10,000. To not be able to use the footage was a huge loss to us. Historically, the videos produced in previous years have gotten very low engagement. Some outliers get several thousand views, but a vast majority get under 200, and some less than 10. When you take into consideration that getting footage of the sessions costs upwards of $10,000, and the videos average around 100 views, the return on investment is extremely low. $10,000 can provide travel grants for 4 international speakers — which is what we used that money for at NZGDC19! I realize that “we won’t be recording talks going forward” isn’t the answer people want to hear, but we ARE looking into alternatives (such as audio-only plus the slide decks, just recording the keynotes, etc.)
“The Afterparty was too loud.”
While we really tried to address this at NZGDC19’s Afterparty, with our designated “quiet room”, the room was so popular, it didn’t stay quiet for long! In 2020 we are hoping to have a more subdued, cocktail party atmosphere, and then perhaps amp up the music later in the evening for the night owls. While being able to kick back at the Afterparty is a big part of NZGDC, we also respect the recent industry-wide push to de-emphasize alcohol consumption as the main attraction at these events. We want everyone to be able to have fun, but in a safe environment.
“There weren’t many student tickets available.”
The NZGDC Team consulted with senior-level employees in the local industry and found that many of them felt that very little content at the conference was relevant to them, as so much of it was very junior-focused. To combat this, we intentionally started curating content aimed more towards a mid-to-senior level, while also creating Student Day, which was 1) extremely targeted towards students and those just starting out in the industry 2) subsidized by the main conference and therefore a very affordable price for a whole day of lectures, and 3) on a Saturday to try to prevent schedule conflicts with weekday classes. While student passes are still available for the main NZGDC conference at a 50% discount, because the conference is not aimed towards the student level, the number of student passes is therefore limited. We will continue to run Student Day (which was a great success!) in the future, to provide a very cost-effective and targeted option for students, juniors, and hobbyists.
I hope that answered some questions, and I am excited to have the opportunity to organize NZGDC for a second year and to act on this feedback. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
NZGDC Project Manager and Committee Chairperson