Five reasons for indie game devs to attend gaming festivals

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At The Games Hub HQ, we’ve been reflecting on all of the gaming festivals and events we’ve been to this year – you might have seen us at the Rapture Gaming Festival in Colchester (who have just announced they’ll be back in October – we’re excited!), at the Norwich Gaming Festival, or at the Develop: Brighton Conference in Brighton last week.

We’ve had a blast at all of these events. We think there’s loads to be gained from attending a gaming festival, especially if you’re working on an indie game.

So here are our top five reasons why indie games developers should go to a gaming festival.

To build an audience

First and foremost – a gaming festival can be the ideal opportunity to showcase your game. Everyone attending the festival will love games as much as you do, so it can provide the chance to get your game in front of some people who’ll love it.

Take merch to give away, let people who play your game know how and when they can get hold of it when it will be released, invite attendees to leave your their email address so you can keep them up-to-date with development on the game – whatever you do, make the most of the people attending the festival.

You could even run a competition to get them interested…

To get feedback on your game

If you’re at a festival where people can playtest your game, this can provide invaluable feedback for the development process. You can watch people as they play, and ask them directly what they think about the different features of your game.

Nysko Games wrote a blog post about Rapture Festival which detailed all of the really helpful feedback they received at the festival earlier this year.

To meet other people doing the same thing as you

We’re lucky that our shared studio space at The Games Hub means that there’s always other people around to bounce ideas off or help when someone gets stuck. But if you’re working on your own, or your team doesn’t share office space with other developers, gaming events can be a great place to feel part of a wider community – to meet people who are both encountering similar problems to you, and experiencing similar highs.

Develop offers a great opportunity to network with others in the games industry. But it’s been great to meet people at the other festivals we’ve attended too – we’ve loved chatting to other indie game devs about everything there is to love and loathe about working on an indie game.

To see some of the other awesome indie games out there

As well as meeting other indie developers, you’ll also get the chance to see their games.

Want to know what other indie games are out there? To find out which are similar to yours? To see which are the best being built at the moment? Playtest them all in one awesomely fun day.

To have a chance at winning an award

Okay, so it doesn’t happen for everyone – but plenty of gaming events offer awards, and often there’ll be a category for indie games. What better accolade for your game than to be able to describe it as award-winning?

At The Games Hub, Flitch Games recently scooped second place in the Rapture Gaming Festival “Best Indie of Show” award.

And Sketchbook Games are running out of shelf space after winning a whole host of awards for their game Lost Words, including ‘Best Story’, Most Creative/Original’ and ‘Best Indie Game’ at Game Connection 2016, ‘Game of the Show’ at Intel Buzz 2016, the Special Selection Indie Award and the Nordic Game Discovery Pitching Contest at the Reboot Develop Conference 2017 in Dubrovnik… phew.

Lost Words concept art by Sketchbook Games

So what do you think?

Do you agree with the reasons we’ve listed? Are there any that we’ve missed? If you’re an indie games developer, we’d love to hear more about your experiences of the gaming festivals you’ve been to recently.