GameDevNorth's Samuel Mottershaw explains how you can bring your development community together
There's been a great deal more meetups springing up across the UK, which is fantastic. I hope in the future, there'll be enough meetups so you'll always have some where close to go and meet and talk with fellow game developers.
If you're thinking about starting one up, here's some tips, thoughts and general things to think about when you take that plunge.
This can all depend on what kind of meet up you want to do create, but hopefully it'll be helpful.
First and foremost, accept everyone from all walks of game development. Your event will be all the better if you make it a great environment for anyone to come along and talk about making games. We often meet people and they feel like they shouldn't come because they don't have experience or don't have a game under their belt, so we constantly emphasise that no matter what you will be welcome and because of that attitude the atmosphere at our events is much friendlier.
Have an event page
We have an eventbrite page for all our meet ups for a couple of reasons: it's good to know how many people are coming, gives people a central page for all the information on the event, if you need to change anything like the venue, the date etcetera. then you'll have the option of informing everyone easily, rather than chasing everyone down individually.
We definitely recommend eventbrite, but there's others out there. So find the best one for your needs and if you want some inspiration have a look at our past pages:
Of course, if it's a small meetup in the same pub each week/month (like GameDevEd) then you probably won't need one but definitely have a central hub of information, so it's easy for people to find clear information about your event.
Tell people often
This might seem obvious, but a number of times we've been advertising our newest meetup and even regulars haven't known it was on. The best place for you to spread the word about your event is Twitter, because a massive chunk of the industry is there and even if they aren't in your area, they might want to attend or spread the word about it. So tweet it often and do it at different times of the day, while indies check Twitter frequently throughout the day, people working in larger companies tend to check it later in the day and you'll catch a lot of students past midnight.
Give people a good reason to go
While a meetup for game developers is enough for lots of people, they'll be more likely to come if there's something different or interesting going on. Good examples are talks, game jams, game showcases, quizzes or contests. We tend to do a quiz because it gets people talk and brings a bit more structure to the night.
Sponsors are nice, really
There's normally a bit of negative feeling towards sponsorship, that corporate entity will just ruin the event. We've never found that to be the case, they are normally great people who just want to get the word out about their company or something they are working on. We also find that sponsors can be pretty good at advertising or providing something interesting for the event.
When Ubisoft Reflections sponsored our Christmas event, they offered up career advice for everyone who attended, a massive bag of prizes for the quiz and raffle and put the word out through their social media channels.
Small is fine
Our first event had four people, including me. Our second had around 15. Don't panic if only a few people turn up, if you did a good job then they'll go on to tell other people and your next one will be even busier.
Be Prepared to work
As the meetings get bigger, so will your workload. There's so much time and effort that goes into every GameDevNorth, trying to make sure the event will actually go through everytime and more than once we've been up to the last minute sorting things out.
An unfortunate side effect of working with bars, while they are normally great on the night, they often take a long time to respond and cancel at the worst possible time. Not to mention, on the night you will spend more time running around sorting things out than actually talking to people.
I also asked our other event heads to give their take on organising a meetup:
"The main thing I've learnt with GameDevMidlands is that people in our industry really do like meeting other people and finding out what others think and feel about what they are so passionate about. Things do go horribly wrong sometimes when setting these up, but when you see everyone having a great time and sharing their love of games it really does seem worth it."- Ash Morgan, GameDevMidlands
“Looking back at GameDevNorth, I am continually surprised how important networking events really are. The simple idea of inviting all members of the gaming community to a free event means that all types of developers can get together and share ideas. This means that people just starting their journey can have direct access to triple-A developers and it is something I am proud to be part of.” - Craig Harbour, GameDevNorth Leeds
Take these things into consideration when you're organising your meetup and feel free to get in touch with us, we want to see more meetups and we are more than happy to help!