FDG 2009 Day One

So I am aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship for the Foundations of Digital Games conference. Right now we are well out to see with no land in sight. The conference is going along quite smoothly though. We started with a keynote by Chris Satchell who is the CTO for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). He presenting an interesting view of where the digital entertainment business is going in the next 5 to 10 years. He highly recommended that today’s students learn about things like linear algebra, statistics, and writing secure and maintainable code among other even more technical subjects for college students (distributed databases anyone?)

Later I attended some panel talks – one on creating and maintaining an Academic Games Program and a second on the Funding Landscape for Games-Related research. Both were pretty interesting and gave a very broad description of what games programs look like and the breadth of games related research. Stuff is happening in this field. One of the panelists is with the Army group that looks at games and simulators for training purposes. It’s really interesting that the Army really believes in games for training purposes. They are seeing some great results from what they are doing already. But like many people now they are being asked for solid research data to back up what they believe. That seems to be a common thread so far. How do you know that what you are doing is really getting results?

The casual conversations between sessions have already been interesting too. I had one short talk with a co-worker about operating systems design. A somewhat longer conversation involved several of my team and I talking with a faculty member from a university in New Mexico about programming languages. It ranged from different programming paradigms – functional languages, domain specific languages and compiler development. I’m learning a lot and that is always a fun thing.

We also had a session that was unique to me. It was called “One-Minute Madness” and it gave every speaker attending the conference one minute to “pitch” their talk to the audience. Yes everyone was held to one minute and many finished early. Quite a rapid fire event but it was interesting and it was enough to change my plans for sessions to attend tomorrow I think.

After dinner tonight there are two tutorial sessions from 10:30 to midnight. Not sure many conferences run workshops that late but this one does. Serious learning going on as this is a serious conference. Though not devoid of fun by any stretch of the imagination. More on that tonight after we have a few hours to visit Nassau, Bahamas.


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