The internet is starting to take away every reason you have to go outside. Just a few days ago, I got the opportunity to attend GameBizCon hosted by Bizztech. And when I say attend, I am referring to sitting at home and having access to their website.
GameBizCon is described in their marketing graphic as “Professionals of the Gaming industry meet and match to do business in pre-scheduled video calls.” In short, it is a networking event for people of the gaming industry with panel discussions periodically.
It is so weird to live in a world where panels and networking events are taking place online. Could this kind of event really be comparable to a physical panel discussion or networking event?
Could something as interactive as networking be worth doing online? The answer is not what you would expect.
How GameBizCon Worked
Although they do not mention it anywhere (besides this video hidden at the very bottom of their website which I found literally as I was writing this article), you will have to go into their website and create your own account and a profile. From there, you will have access to see the list of the participants, their occupation and the company they work for.
Once the event date arrives, you are able to schedule a meeting with any of the attendees of the event who will need to either accept, postpone or decline your request.
You also gain access to their “Opportunities” section, where you can upload a project you are working on or resources and connections you are looking for. You are also able to see others’ opportunities.
The biggest issue with the event right away, and this persisted during the entire duration, was its lack of communication on how everything worked. As a new attendee, I got lucky to find their website and even then I had to spend time and explore the site before I even understood what was happening.
They frequently provided updates through email about the Zoom events, but nothing regarding their website. On some features, they had video guides, but they were poorly made videos that had no audio or explanation of its purpose.
Additionally, when first reading the term “gaming industry”, I assumed it was interchangeable with the esport industry. It is not. This event was specific towards the game developers, and I was going in specifically for esports. Luckily, there was an esport panel discussion and some companies with esports segments which made this event worthwhile for me.
Match and Meet
The networking aspect of this networking event was referred to as “Match and Meet”, where attendees could search up other attendees and schedule 30 minutes video calls. The calls took place on a third party site.
You would determine who you want to schedule a meeting with based on their job title and the company they worked in.
This aspect differs from your typical unstructured networking event as its harder to get the opportunity to network with just anyone, instead you make calculated decisions on who to reach out to. You are also expected to have a reason for setting up the meeting, which the other person can identify to decide if they want to decline or accept the meeting request.
I scheduled a few meetings with a few individuals, but only one ended up accepting. I got to have a meeting with the CEO of Games For Love.
There we had a discussion and built a connection. Going into the meeting, we both knew what we were going to talk about and wasted no time about it. Afterwards, we formed a way to communicate after the meeting and now I will be helping them with some future endeavors.
If I was someone with a business that was looking to benefit in a specific way, searching for people who can clearly benefit my company would be extremely easy to find using this format. Additionally, you can prepare everything you may need prior to going into them with the context of their profession.
An inconvenience with the Match and Meet has to do with the notification system. I wished people were emailed when a request was sent to them so they would actually be aware of it.
Not to mention that 30 minutes is not a large window depending on what you are discussing. I understand why they would choose a limit, but it would just as much make more sense if you had the ability to determine how long your meeting was.
The AMA and Round Tables
The AMA and Round Tables (panel discussions) were the more structured element of the event, hosted on Zoom. They had prearrangements with industry professionals to act as speakers, and the speakers were listed on their Eventbrite page.
During both aspects, the attendees were muted as they listened to the speakers and the attendees were able to convey their thoughts through the chat box which was also visible to speakers. There was also a moderator present to move forward conversations and bring up questions.
This was a very typical panel discussion format, however with the benefactor of the chat, which played a large part of what made (specifically the Round Tables) so great. They are a step up over your typical panel discussions where you are left to listen to only the speaker’s thoughts and leave yours unheard.
The AMA session was like any typical AMA. As someone going in without specific questions, the session felt pointless to attend.
Although it is valuable to listen to other’s questions (and I would recommend attending for that specific reason), all questions were related to game development (since the event was about the gaming industry, not the esport industry) it was pointless for me personally.
I skipped the first Round Table “Gaming – the future social platform” as the topic did not interest me. I attended the second Round Table “Esports – influencing values beyond the gaming industry”, and after doing so, I regret missing the first one.
Going into it, I was unsure how the conversations would pan out (considering it was esports in a gaming industry event), but the conversation picked up extremely quickly.
Right from the introduction, the conversation switched into a debate. The panel was so engaging and powerful that the call was only intended to last for 1 hour, but it ended up spending 2 hours and only answered 2 of the questions intended to occupy in the 1 hour period.
It kept everyone engaging in the chat, including the people on the panel also contributing in the chat discussions, with everyone having different viewpoints clashing. It was a great demonstration of not only the uncertainty of the esport industry, but also the passion behind people involved in the industry.
Truly, panel discussions are enhanced through the usage of a live chat, and that last Round Table made the event well worth it.
The Conclusion: Should You Signup For GameBizCon?
I made the mistake of signing up for GameBizCon with the mindset of learning about only the business of esports. Even so, the connections I made and the things I learned (although limited due to my interest in esports) made attending the event well worth it.
For any game developers, I would highly recommend CERTAIN type of people. People who have the time to both understand the platform and to search through the list of attendees would really benefit from this event.
I would also recommend people who are in a business looking for specific connections or opportunities. If you are busy and will not have the time to benefit from the event, I would not recommend wasting the money.
Besides the poor communication, leaving new attendees like myself initially clueless, the event was well worth the time to learn and make connections. Even as someone who is not currently employed, I still learned a lot and made valuable connections.
Make sure to go prepared into the AMA! If you are more interested in the esport industry, I would recommend holding back from the GameBizCon, but instead attending the EsportBiz. I know I will be attending.
I do not think online networking events will replace physical ones, but they both have their pros and cons to them. Now if you do not mind me, I am going to get ready to rewatch that last Round Table video again, but I hope to see you at the next GameBizCon or EsportsBiz.