Meet the New TVGS Event Schedule!

This post outlines a series of improvements that Tech Valley Game Space is making to our recurring event schedule. These changes will take effect on June 1st, 2020.

Updated Event Schedule

Updated Event Info

Community Night

Community Night will be hosted as a monthly gathering on the TVGS Discord every third Wednesday of the month from 6:30pm-9pm. The event format will be updated to focus on fostering connections among community members and encouraging more interaction between attendees. This will be our primary monthly social event for community members and newcomers.

Social Night

Social Night will be hosted as a weekly gathering on the TVGS Discord every Wednesday from 6:30pm-9pm (except for the third Wednesday of each month, when it will be replaced by Community Night). The main purpose of these gatherings is to provide weekly opportunities for local game makers to interact and stay connected.

Transmissions

Transmissions will be livestreamed via the TVGS Twitch and YouTube channels every Friday from 6:30pm-9:30pm. Streams will typically focus on community members playing games together, and chatting via the TVGS Discord.

Orbit

Orbit discussion and mentorship groups will be hosted as monthly gatherings on the TVGS Discord, with different group meetups occurring on each Saturday of the month. Beginner Game Design will occur every second Saturday of the month from 11am-12:30pm. The rest of the groups will occur from 1pm-2:30pm on the first, third, and fourth Saturday of each month. The format of recurring Orbit meetups will be more freeform, with an emphasis on group discussions rather than formal presentations.

New Event Evaluation Process

When TVGS was first formed in 2014, our event schedule consisted of informal social gatherings every week and a larger communal event approximately every 1-2 months. In more recent years, our number of community events has expanded into the range of 200-300 per year. Most of these are free public events that rely on volunteer organizers to keep them running.

This increase in event frequency happened gradually, as a direct result of our vibrant and enthusiastic community. Unfortunately, this expanding event schedule eventually began to strain the capacity of our volunteers and event organizers. The more intensive schedule has also spread out our community across a much wider array of events.

To address these challenges, TVGS is introducing a new process for establishing, evaluating, and discontinuing events. This will enable us to manage our event schedule more effectively in the future.

Event Proposals

Our event proposal system empowers community members to pitch new event ideas and take the lead on organizing them with support from TVGS. Want to pitch an event? If so, simply fill out the event proposal form.

Proposed events will be evaluated by the Events Coordinator, who will follow up with the person proposing the event to discuss logistics. The Events Coordinator will work with the event organizer to establish the key metrics used to determine each event’s success, as well as target values for these metrics.

Alongside these target metrics, the Events Coordinator will also work with the event organizer to create a set of criteria that can be used to determine when the event should be discontinued. Typical discontinuation criteria will include falling below a minimum level of event attendance, and a lack of sufficient availability on the part of the event organizers.

Once these details have been finalized, they will be sent to the Executive Director for final approval.

Event Maintenance

The Events Coordinator will meet with the organizers of each recurring event on at least a quarterly basis to check on the status of that event, evaluate the metrics, and discuss potential improvements. Topics of discussion may include format adjustments, plans for increasing event promotion, and proposals for how TVGS can provide additional support.

Event Discontinuation

If a recurring event falls within its established criteria for discontinuation, the Event Coordinator will meet with the organizers to discuss next steps. Based on this discussion, the Event Coordinator will make a recommendation to the Executive Director. The Executive Director will then make a final decision about whether or not to continue the event.

Why Are We Making These Changes?

Since the inception of TVGS, we have hosted a variety of recurring events as a way of growing our community and connecting local game makers. We are always striving to improve these events by adjusting their frequency and format based on your feedback.

Incremental refinements are helpful, but we occasionally need to make larger updates to our event calendar to account for the evolving needs of our community and our region. Now is one of those times.

How Did We Determine These Changes?

Since early 2020, the TVGS Events Team has been working on a plan for improving our recurring event schedule. This plan incorporates feedback from our community members and volunteers, as well as format adjustments resulting from our recent shift to online-only events in response to COVID.

The improvement plan centers on a few key areas of focus that arose during these planning discussions: sustainability, variety, and impact.

Sustainability

One of our major goals is to ensure that all of our recurring events are sustainable, both in terms of the effort they require and the number of attendees they attract. Achieving this goal requires us to decrease the overall workload associated with event organization, and ensure that the frequency of events is appropriately scaled to demand.

In order to improve event sustainability, we have:

  • Simplified the format for frequently recurring events to reduce the amount of organizational work required
  • Established a process for discontinuing events that do not garner an audience
  • Limited the maximum number of separate events run by an individual volunteer

Variety

Another important goal is to keep events fresh and interesting for repeat attendees. Achieving this goal entails varying the format of recurring events to increase engagement and spice things up a bit.

In order to improve event variety, we have:

  • Adjusted the format of Community Night to include a unique group activity each month
  • Added a featured developer for monthly showcase events
  • Established a process for evaluating new event proposals from community members

Impact

Last but not least, a key goal is to ensure that our approach to events has a positive impact on our organization, our community, and our region as a whole. This means ensuring that we focus our efforts on addressing regional needs, and that we secure the resources needed to run our major events and programs.

In order to improve event impact, we have:

  • Streamlined the recurring event schedule to free up volunteer time and energy for larger initiatives
  • Focused our online events around ongoing needs like community-building, skill development, and providing visibility for local developers
  • Improved the consistency of our recurring event schedule to make events easier to attend

Updated Notice from TVGS regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated Notice from Tech Valley Game Space regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19):

In accordance with the recent mandate from Governor Cuomo’s office to limit the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19, our venue will be locking its doors as of 8pm on Sunday, March 22, 2020. No one will be able to enter the facility after this time. Venue staff will not be on-site.

If you need to retrieve personal items from the facility, please do so by 8pm Sunday March 22, 2020.

If you are expecting mail at TVGS, you may want to consider having your mail forwarded to you. We are not permitted to remain onsite to receive orders or mail deliveries. https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm

Although our physical venue will be temporarily closed, our community will remain active via online events, classes, and activities. Most of these online interactions will be hosted via our TVGS Discord Server. If you haven’t already, please join our Discord and invite others to do the same.

For additional details, please review the Governor’s Executive Order mandating 100% Closure of Non-Essential Businesses Statewide, as well as the latest update from the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening with COVID-19 around New York State:

Rensselaer County Department of Health

Troy City Hall

Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce

New York State Department of Health

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Tech Valley Game Space will continue to do its absolute best to serve and communicate to our membership throughout this pandemic national emergency. Our cancellations and additional rules for usage are based on compliance with state and national mandates, which are being updated regularly. We encourage members to maintain their memberships if possible; your support is always critical to our existence, but especially needed through this very difficult time.

Thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out and let us know at info@techvalleygamespace.com.

Best,

TVGS Team

Notice from TVGS regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Notice from Tech Valley Game Space regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):

Tech Valley Game Space is a hub for game makers throughout the Capital Region, and our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our community. With this in mind, we are taking the following precautionary measures to safeguard the welfare of all community members:

1. We are temporarily suspending all in-person TVGS events and meetings.
Where possible, we will aim to either reschedule these activities or conduct them as online-only gatherings. We will continue monitoring the situation around COVID-19, and we will provide updates regarding our event schedule as circumstances change.

2. Our venue will be temporarily closed to the general public.
Until further notice, only paying TVGS coworking members (and their supervised guests) will be permitted to access the venue.

3. We are instituting additional sanitization measures for those using shared facilities and equipment.
All community members are responsible for washing down and sanitizing communal tables and equipment before and after using them. This applies to all hands-on tools, hardware, and peripherals. Examples include (but are not limited to) mice, keyboards, game controllers, touchscreen devices, and VR headsets.

Additionally, TVGS members must ensure that they abide by all venue guidelines and regulations outlined by the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. Before utilizing the facility, members are required to review the following essential information about TVCOG’s protocols regarding COVID-19: https://www.tvcog.net/about/whats-news

You can help protect yourself and others by sanitizing diligently, washing your hands regularly (for at least 20 seconds), and staying home if you feel sick. That last item bears repeating: If you are not feeling well, or have been in contact with a person with COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been at a public event that is correlated with a known case of COVID-19, please err on the side of caution by staying home and getting tested.

To help us maintain a safe and healthy community, please take the time to educate yourself on the preventative measures you can take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This information is readily available via public health agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Rensselaer County Health Department.

We are continuing to track the situation around COVID-19 closely, and we will share information as new details become available. To help ensure that you don’t miss any relevant updates, we encourage you to follow us on social media, subscribe to our email newsletter, and join our online chat groups on Facebook and Discord.

We are all in this together, and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out and let us know at info@techvalleygamespace.com.

Best,

TVGS Team

Lift Off 2019: Closing Ceremony Forum

The final day of Lift Off, opened with a forum between panelists Muse en Lystrala, Becky Arcovitch, and Jarell Pryor (with Frederika Edgington-Giordano as moderator) answering questions about how to get into the video game industry. The panelists focused on various perspectives of game making, from getting into professional studios, to starting independent studios. Topics covered includes where to learn more about game making, how to put together a creative portfolio, transitioning from one profession to another, and balancing one’s schedule while making games.

After the panel, everyone presented their final project. The six projects were (note: all titles are tentative):

  • Bip
    An artistic, 2D exploration game about slowly uncovering what the world looks like. Created in Construct 3.
  • Youth Gaming League
    A gamified task list teaching children and young teens how to improve the conditions of their local community, and hopefully themselves.
  • Go Robo Now
    A tabletop role-playing game set in the Go Robo Now universe. Explore the alternate universe of modern-day New York City, fighting monsters à la Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Plunge
    A metaphorical text-based adventure using a sci-fi universe to depict problems about poverty and systematic oppression. Created in Twine.
  • The Earth Present
    An environmentalist 2D platformer about restoring nature. Created in Unity.
  • Odyssey RPG
    An open-world RPG, similar to Skyrim. Created in Unity.

The event concluded with a celebration where each mentor congratulated their mentee with a certificate. Well done, everyone!

Lift Off 2019: Stress Management & Impostor Syndrome

3D Game Artist Kolel Pryor provides tips and tricks on how to manage stress while working in the game industry, and in the creative industry as a whole. In particular, he brings up the impostor syndrome, or the feeling that one’s accomplishments as just lucky flukes. He covers how to avoid overworking, finding motivation to work, and retaining your confidence in a field full of talented people.

After the presentation, the mentors covered what is expected for the Closing Ceremony, and what to prepare.

Resources:

Lift Off 2019: Quality Assurance

Quality Engineer Frederika Edgington-Giordano gives a rundown of what the job of a Quality Assurance (QA) in the games and software industry is like. A somewhat lesser-known field, QAs tests and confirms whether the game/software in development is up to the quality standard customers expect from said product. Frederika described what sort of people are desired in said profession, and provides some advice on being hired as one.

After the presentation, each participant reviewed with their mentor any feedback they’ve received from playtesting, and what changes they can make to tackle any problems brought up.

Resources:

Lift Off 2019: Diversity and Representation

Freelance e-sports journalist and diversity advocate, Amanda Stevens, provides an in-depth workshop on why diversity and representation is important in the media that we create. In addition, they provided some strategies on adding more representation in media, including uses of writing, music, characters, etc.

After the presentation, each participant reviewed with their mentor how their first playable went, and discussed what improvements can be made to it.

Resources:

  • None!

Lift Off 2019: You Belong in Tech

STEAM advocate, Milena Gonzalez provides a thorough presentation on why participants at the TVGS’ Lift Off Diversity Incubator belongs in tech. She lists the benefits of working in the tech industry and the positions available, but also indicated the negatives that the industry suffers from. Diversity can solve these problems, she argues, making a better world for everyone.

After the presentation, everyone split up to review their game design document and project schedule. They were tasked to make their first playable for next week.

Resources:

Lift Off 2019: Project Management

TVGS’ Lift Off Diversity Incubator continues with a presentation on Project Management for Game Development by college professor and former Studio Manager of Cinematic at Telltale, Becky Arcovitch. She provides a primer on what project management is, why it’s important, what the common practices are for game development, and provided an example of a schedule for Lift Off attendees to track their progress. Lastly, she provided resources on splitting and managing tasks, as well as encourage those interested in the practice to look for the Associate Producer role.

After the presentation, everyone split up to discuss how to write their first game design document and plan out their project over the course of the program using task management software like Trello.

Resources:

Lift Off 2019: Opening Ceremony

The second TVGS Lift Off: Diversity Incubator began with a keynote by indie game developer and TVGS Executive Director, Taro Omiya, who provided a large list of resources and common game-dev-related terms to look out for. The presentation came with a handout summarizing the presentation.

New to this year, attendees were also encouraged to share their game ideas to help the team building process. After ice breakers and a review of the program, everyone split with their own designated mentor. Each discussed what the attendee’s game ideas were, and what tools to look into to make it happen. With the handout and resources sheet in-hand, everyone will be spending the week studying what tools best fits their game.

Resources: