Archive | July 2011

Leeds Digital Festival – think about your event and write it down!

By the end of August we will need to know what the programme for this year’s Leeds Digital Festival will be. We have known this for a few months now, and it’s a mantra we have been passing on over that time to everyone. We have a programme that is building up steadily.

If you are running a Leeds Digital Festival event, it is important that you consider a number of points to ensure your event is viable. Due to no central funding and the “platform” approach nature of this year’s festival this means that every event needs to be managed by the respective event organiser to at least break even. We cannot let you organise an event which clocks up massive bills and leaves you out of pocket.

To help you with this we have set up an event template, which we are asking every event organiser to read, think about, and fill in and return by Thursday 11 August.

When I organised the Leeds digital lunch for July I trialled the brief and have refined it as I went along. You can download the brief below and read it for yourself.

The brief allowed me at the outset to think about what I was doing, where I was doing it, and to make sure it all added up. What is the theme? What am I looking to do? Who would come? Why? Have I got a suitable venue? How much is it going to cost? Who do I need to get there? What other resources do I need?

The bottom line was I wanted to make sure I put on an event that people would come to and would pay for itself. I was concerned about the content and pull. If they weren’t there I didn’t see the point in the event. I did some research, and you can see that I have referenced this in my brief (I have uploaded my working brief for the event below as an example). I also wanted to make sure I didn’t oversell the event and kept a tight leash on what I was organising. I had been aware of other events that lose focus. I was organising just a round table discussion, so I made sure I kept on that track. I also looked at ticketingand how I would promote it. I also sought advice from people on any issues of offering free tickets (key bit of advice: “If you do free tickets, if more than 50% of the people who ‘bought’ tickets turn up, you have done well.”) In the end it turned out well. This brief and making me think about everything removed any anxiety on the day.

We request that anyone doing an event for the festival goes through the same process using the blank template below. You can use my July event brief as a guide to show you what I thought about and the conclusions I drew. To help me I spoke to a couple of people to question and validate what I was doing. This was a useful process to check for any holes (a good example is me presuming the venue would provide a mic and speakers – I had to check with the Adelphi to know).

If you are planning an event or activity and still don’t know what you are doing, then you need to get your thinking cap on now and answer these questions. By the end of August we will know what the programme is, so by the third week of the month every event will be known to viable: it will have structure (it doesn’t, for example, need to have all the panel in place but at least know you can assemble one), you will know who will turn up and an idea of numbers, it will have a suitable venue at least earmarked, it will have an idea of budget, and how it will pay for itself.

This will also help us helping to steer the festival get an idea of what goes where and when, who needs some help joining the dots up (mainly venues and audience), and you will also be writing summaries of your events which will help assembling the programme at the end of August easier.

So, event organisers, download and get filling in! Any questions you can email me on simoncwilson@gmail.com.

LDF event brief template

July search event brief example

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The almost games

I was down the pub the other day with my man Sean. We were talking about what we were going to do with Get Into Gaming. Pretty simple that. Something in September. Have some retro game playing challenges in a couple of corners, Matt Murray doing his podcast thing in another, a couple of nice little talks, and also some presentations around a theme. Throw in a little drinking and a bit of banter and it’s a winner, yeah?

(And then do it again, but bigger and better in November.)

For September we’ve been looking for a theme for the presentations. We want people to come and do those. I said I’ll do one to get things going (like I always do), but after that get other people involved. People into games. People who make games. People who used to make games. But those people, they gotta have a strand that can holds things together. I have been banging on for ages, adamantly, that it should be The Games That Never Were. The idea was to get people to talk about the games that were never released.

Screenshot of Deadlock

My main driver for this was a Commodore 64 game I remember called Deadlock, that looked absolutely bloody awesome – but never saw the light of day, other than the snippets in Zzap! 64. Yes, this is the sort of thing that excited me when I was 15 – and still excites me 20 years later. Shut it, yeah? I still think it’s the sort of thing I think is worth talking about, all these years on. Games that were oh-so-nearly there. The Games That Never Were theme certainly carried that, but also was possibly a little too limited for everyone else to a) talk about, and b) listen to.

I feared come the night of the event I’d be the only person who wanted to talk about this game I remember seeing screenshots of. I’d be stood on my own, with only the muffled sound of people sniggering round the corner.

So we furthered the idea, to The Almost Games or The Nearly Games. We think this has a bit more scope. This could be games that gave us tantalising glimpses – like Deadlock – but also rolled into other territory. Vapourware and Abandonware. Even further, what about the games that were released, that had something in there, a little gem just waiting to come out, it was just locked away behind an impossible starting screen or an impossible control system? Or a game that would be perfect on another platform that it never appeared on? And what about the SEUCK games you spent hours on that could have been the new SWIV if only someone would have published it? See? There’s legs in that!

So, dear reader, what I am asking you is what are you nearly games? Comment away below and let us know. At the least it will provide us with an idea of what we can talk about at GIG in September, and at best you might fancy giving a three to five minute talk/presentation on a game (or game(s)) you felt were nearly games.

We’ll be announcing the first Get Into Gaming very very soon. It will be about The Nearly Games. It looks like it’ll be on Tuesday 13 September down at the Adelphi, but we’ll confirm that in the next few days. Follow GetIntoGaming on Twitter, which is where we’ll announce it properly. We’ll also have the website updated soon as well. Woot, eh!

We have the details for the first Get Into Gaming now. It will be about The Nearly Games. It will be on Tuesday 13 September down at the Adelphi, and we have launched the website as well for you to drool over. Follow GetIntoGaming on Twitter for the latest updates on September’s event. Woot, eh!

In the meantime, drop me a line at simoncwilson@gmail.com if you fancy talking about your nearly game. And talk about your nearly game(s) below. Get ready. Go for it!

Go bowling… in Shipley

Bowling is great, a real pleasure for me. It demands concentration, a sturdiness, a control in your poise and shape, but rewards you in spades. You’re rewarded not just with strikes, but with those accurate rolls when you precisely knock that last standing pin to give you a spare. There’s also the approaches, the method you employ to bowl – it’s not just about brute strength, but also there are approaches that are not just about sheer accuracy. Bowling is for anyone.

It’s also cool. There’s the shoes. Those oh-so-cool shoes, that I wish I could wear anywhere, every day. And there’s also the cool pop culture references as well. The Big Lebowski. Kingpin. Sam in Fringe. Janeane Garofalo’s character in Mystery Men. That bit in Grease 2 no-one admits to enjoying. Um, Bowling for Columbine. The list is clearly far from endless, but we’re talking quality here, not quantity.

The only thing that stops me having more bowling games these days is mainly the cost. As a family of four, it’s not cheap – about £25 for two games – and it can also test your patience setting up the frame for your four-year-old son and then watching his bowls slowly trundle along the lane until it… pushes through about seven pins, about 90 seconds later.

And on top of that there’s also another reason I don’t go that often, and that’s these modern day Hollywood Bowl type things. They’re so busy, soooooo long, so flashy (all those screens! all those screens burning my eyes!), so full of kids (nothing against kids – I’d just prefer a lower child quotient at these things), and they are just SO BLOODY LOUD! The music is ramped up to 11! As a result people shout at each other. It’s like going to a night club.

“Oooo, so close, mate.”
“What?”
“I said: so close, mate. You nearly had a strike there!”
“WHAT?!”
“I SAID, IT’S GOOD JOB YOU FAFFED THAT UP OTHERWISE YOU’D BE BREATHING DOWN ME NECK!”

But bowling is a great sociable event. You go as a group. There’s an acceptance of every skill level with bowling. And having said that, there’s also the bumpers for people who are rubbish. And no-one really seems to complain about that handicap. Not only is bowling cool, but everyone who bowls is cool.

With all that in mind this weekend we were looking something to do with some visiting family over. A play barn place? No! Climbing? No! No, let’s go bowling! But where? The aversion to the rowdy and brash modern bowling mega-alleys had us checking the alley up the road in the Shipley. Never ever been. Rang up, booked two lanes. Expected the worse.

Bowling

I shouldn’t have been worried. Despite parking difficulties (a major bollockache in Shipley full stop), Go Bowling is great. It’s friendly, it’s not too noisy, it’s not too busy. The lanes are totally modern and in really good nick. Despite every lane being occupied there was a level of control and not too much sound. It allowed me to observe bowling, to take in the details. There’s a gentleness, and a grace to it. In my mind anyway.

I am abruptly brought back down to earth. For every smooth graceful release there’s about seven people who have a “drop” based release. THUNK! Rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble… THUNK! Rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble-rumble… This is the beauty of a quieter bowling alley.

Over at the opposite end of the lanes, there’s a hen do, whopping, cheering, going “oooooOOO!” at near misses. But they’re not constantly doing this. They’re having fun, although it does raise the question “Who has a hen do in Shipley?” There’s also a bloke a couple of lanes up wearing a Fremantle Dockers top. This in itself is a rare sight in Fremantle, let alone in Shipley.

I recommend you have a go. Yes, it’s just as expensive to go in Shipley as it is to your local Megabowlthing. No, I’m not asking you to support your local bowling alley. I am asking you to go bowling somewhere that’s a bit more civilised. Try it.