Interview: Jurie Horneman of GameConfs.com Jose San Mateo December 20, 2014 Archives This is an interview from Steven Savage a contributor from one of Indie Haven’s partner websites at Crossroads Alpha. Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/. A web page listing gaming conferences and professional events. What a great idea! Why that must have been around since . . . 2012? Yes, GameConfs.com, a website listing gaming conferences and related events has, as of this writing, been around two years. So relating to the idea of “starting some crazy resource” I talked to Jurie Horneman who took it upon himself to create this resource. 1) Jurie, though you wrote of this elsewhere (http://www.intelligent-artifice.com/2014/07/two-years-of-gameconfs.html), you basically started this for two reasons – have a resource and practice your coding. How has that worked out for you? Very well. I’ve learned a lot and managed to turn that expertise into paying work, and my plan to provide a useful resource with a manageable time commitment has worked out. 2) How has the reaction to the site been in the industry? I regularly get positive reactions when people discover the site, and when I was still doing business development for my own studio, I often had moments where I mentioned it to some executive and they told me “That’s you? I use that a lot!” Conference organizers like the site because it helps them select the best date for their conference. 3) How do you see the site evolving – because with the game industry so prominent, it seems like there’s probably even more to do. I have some ideas for new features – tagging, and making your own custom lists, for instance. I will add those at some point. I regularly ask for feedback but there don’t seem to be any major features people are clamoring for. I had ideas for features which turned out to be less useful than I thought, so I tend to wait until people ask for stuff before I add it. Unless I just feel like adding it 😉 I could probably add more information to the events, but it’s hard to do that without increasing my time commitment, and I’m wary of doing that. Gameconfs will probably always remain a side project for me. 4) If someone wanted to help out, how could they? Do you take “contributions” or assistance? I’m always grateful when people send me information about new events or point out when events have changed. I’d be interested in people doing curating, if they know a particular sector or region well. I’d need to add functionality to allow that to happen, though. I’m also open to people going “I’d really like to do something like Gameconfs but for X”. All they have to do is ask and we can work out some licensing arrangement. 5) I’m a big advocate of “learn-by-project” and it seems you are too. What kind of ways can people find a project to hone skills and improve themselves? Gameconfs worked very well for me as a learning project because a) it was my itch that I wanted to scratch, and so I knew the problem I wanted to solve, and b) it allowed me to start with something simple but useful and then I slowly added more and more things in manageable increments. In the initial version, I had a database, and obviously I could deploy to the web, but I couldn’t do live editing. Adding that was a big step, because of the authentication and security code I had to figure out. But the small increments have been key. My learning curve has been very smooth and now I’ve got experience with a lot of useful technical subjects. 6) You’ve been involved in game development for quite awhile. Tell us about some of your projects. I’ve been making games since 1991, starting off with big role-playing games for Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, written entirely in 68000 assembly language. In 2001 I moved into production and game design. The most well-known game I’ve worked on is probably the port of GTA: Vice City at Rockstar Games. I’m currently doing free-lance web-based tool development for game AI middleware. 7) Have you noticed a growth in conferences or any changes since the founding of the site. No major trends. Conferences come and go and of course they follow the trends in the industry. The numbers seem pretty steady between 2012, 2013, and 2014. It’s going up slightly but it may well be that’s because I am now better at picking up events (because people contact me, for instance). What’s interesting is learning about conferences on obscurer topics or in regions I don’t know well, like South America. The most common reaction people, myself included, have when they see Gameconfs is that they didn’t realize there were so many conferences on games. 8) As a game professional who’s working to help her community, what other ways can professionals – and fans – support their community like you do? I think organizing information in a useful manner and keeping it up to date always has been very useful. And that’s all Gameconfs is. I could’ve made a Google document instead of building this slightly overpowered web application. And if you look at what Rami Ismael is doing with Presskit() and Distribute(), building tools for indie developers is another great way of supporting the community.