Sure, it’s been over a year since the Austin Game Developers Conference (AGDC) took place in September 2008, but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t now talk about all the fun we had there, right?
Held at the Austin Convention Center from September 15-17, and organized by the same people who put together the big GDC in San Francisco every year, AGDC offered a less frenetic venue and more focused program for game developers all over the world. Attendees could also visit the trade show to view new games, products, and services. Within this sleek commercial bonanza, the UT Videogame Archive set up a modest exhibit booth, with the primary goal of showcasing some select materials and explaining the archive’s purpose and mission.
Interested conference-goers also lingered around the booth to view some of the interesting items on display. A series of Warren Spector’s design documents from Deus Ex caught many gamers’ eyes. Chris Crawford himself was pleased to see original issues of his Journal of Computer Game Design periodical (and boy, was it our pleasure to meet Crawford, too!) A Mythic game developer was happy to see an original demo reel of Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, one of his all-time favorites, playing on my laptop. Naturally, the demo was created before the game shipped and consequently it sells the game’s highlights point by point, as if that were necessary now. A copy of George “The Fat Man” Sanger’s first composition, “March of the Penguins” (written for Thin Ice), and several examples of full-color concept artwork also garnered an ever-shifting crowd. One gamer even mused about his memories of M.U.L.E. upon seeing the image of the archive’s Son of M.U.L.E. prototype cartridge, hardly aware that it was the unfinished sequel that touched off his reverie.
And if all this activity wasn’t enough, I managed to meet a few game developers, industry folks, and collectors who expressed interest in the possibility of arranging donations of vidoegame-related materials to the UT Videogame Archive. Without naming any names, it would be safe to say that some acquisitions will result from these initial meetings.
All in all, the conference was a successful event for the UT Videogame Archive. We met many conference attendees interested in learning about the archive, talked to possible collection donors, made our presence known to a few media outlets! None of this would have been possible without the generous hospitality of the AGDC organizers, Think Services– a big thanks to them for finding us a spot on the trade show floor. Also, things would not have gone as smooth were it not for the help of one of the archive’s strongest supporters, Bill Bottorf. With the archive surrounded by such good people, it could be nothing but a success.