The importance of your environment cannot be underestimated. It is a significant contributor to your success. And while the word environment can encompass many things, it mostly means the people you surround yourself with. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Or, to cite another proverb, your network is your net worth.
This is particularly true in a budding industry like decentralized gaming. After all, nearly everyone in the industry is focused on growing the pie instead of trying to take the biggest piece of it. Projects collaborate; they don’t compete. As such, the more people you know, the more options you’ll have to create a unique DGaming project that captures the attention of many and that grows the DGaming pie.
The problem, however, is that the Internet isn’t such a great networking tool. It is possible to network, through social media channels such as Twitter and software such as Slack, but most people use the Internet to search for something, to speak to a specific someone, to build a certain something. They use it to focus; not the best way to meet new people. Additionally, the Internet often doesn’t quite convey the personality traits and quirks that make you like one person over the other.
Networking requires chance meetings, ideally in person, with many different people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. It requires a framework that allows for serendipitous events that result in great partnerships. It needs a place where hundreds, if not thousands of people gather, from different countries, different backgrounds, different social strata, only unified by their interest in a broad topic.
That place, of course, is a conference. Media company Skift said in 2013 that conferences are thriving, and they’ve been right for the last six years. Millions of people go to tens of thousands of conferences that are organized around pretty much any topic you can think of, from Magic: The Gathering to Alaskan birds.
DGaming spoke to Andriy Sharanevych, the founder and organizer of the Crypto Games Conference (CGC), the largest blockchain gaming conference in the world. This article will talk about Andriy’s experience in gaming, how he became interested in blockchain technology, how CGC started, and where the DGaming industry is heading.
Gaming Drives Innovation
Andriy has been in the gaming industry, and more specifically in game development, ever since 1997. He’s worked in almost every niche, from PC game development to console to mobile to Facebook games to flash games. Currently, he’s the co-founder of Rockspro, a boutique game development studio that creates art assets for games, and the organizer of CGC, two jobs that take up nearly all his time (and that unfortunately leave little time for gaming).
The reason for his dedication to gaming is his steadfast belief that gaming drives innovation like no other industry. This is something I’d never thought about, but that immediately rang true to me. I recalled playing Crysis on my desktop PC back in 2008, a game so notoriously taxing on computer hardware that even today’s high-end PCs struggle to play it on its highest settings.
This isn’t true just for PC gaming, of course. Andriy spoke about the impact of gaming on the hardware in mobile devices:
“Smartphones these days have high-performance processors and big, powerful HD screens which you don’t literally need for texting or calling. You need it only to play games. When you take a look at what smartphones have become, from the inception of the first iPhone until today, these achievements were made possible because game developers and publishers tried to use all the power of the device to create new experiences, forcing manufacturers to create better devices.”
Considering Andriy’s interest in gaming and technology, blockchain and Bitcoin had been on his radar for a while. But, during the very first years of blockchain technology, he struggled to see how it could be useful for gaming. His interest grew after the launch of Ethereum, the first DApp platform, and the appearance of the first few DGames, but he became really interested in blockchain technology when he noticed the success of CryptoKitties at the end of 2017.
Andriy gathered a few colleagues and organized a meetup of around fifty developers in Kyiv (where he’s based) to talk about the potential and the applicability of blockchain technology in gaming. From the responses during the meetup, not only did he realize that blockchain tech could easily be merged with gaming, but people were already thinking far beyond the simple gameplay mechanics of CryptoKitties.
It sparked the idea of a blockchain gaming conference in Eastern Europe, one that would attract blockchain gamers, developers, and enthusiasts from all over the world...
The Birth of the Crypto Games Conference
There have been three Crypto Games Conferences already. The first one was organized in Kyiv in May 2018, only a few months after Andriy’s meetup in a pub. It was an immediate success, as over 300 people attended from over 21 countries. The second CGC was organized in Minsk toward the end of 2018 and brought in more than 650 attendees from over 28 countries. The third CGC was organized in Minsk again and attracted more than 1,000 attendees.
CGC has been an incredible success, nearly doubling in size with every new event. The next CGC is coming up in Kyiv the weekend of October 10-11 and Andriy says it’ll be bigger and better than ever. He believes that the success of CGC comes from its emphasis on quality, from the venue to the represented brands to the speakers.
Indeed, previous speakers of CGC have been Malcolm CasSelle, the CIO of OPSKins and the President of WAX, Vladimir Tomko, the co-founder of Blockchain Cuties, and Shaban Shaame, the founder and CEO of EverdreamSoft, to name only a few of the high-profile speakers at CGC events.
CGC Connects and Expands
The overarching purpose of CGC is two-fold. Firstly, CGC exists to help build a blockchain gaming community. This is particularly relevant for Eastern Europe, as Andriy brought up:
“[...] sometimes it’s pretty hard to find your game development colleagues, because you don’t know that they work in the house next to you. In Ukraine and in Russia it’s different from the Western tradition of being more open to each other, to their community, and organizing these meetups regularly. [...] sometimes you don’t even know that there is a great studio developing kick-ass stuff here in Ukraine. But then you meet them in a conference [...] to realize they live next-door to you.”
The second purpose of CGC is to evangelize and popularize DGaming. They aim to help this niche unfold and to push it to a mainstream audience. This means bringing in people from traditional game development conferences, as well as inviting people who hardly even know what a blockchain is. Andriy wants to connect people, so they find ways to collaborate or at least see the potential of blockchain technology in gaming.
Additionally, Andriy wants to make sure that CGC is a great event for all parties involved, not just attendees. As such, he’s made sure it’s interesting for DGaming companies too. For example, companies have the opportunity to pitch their product to investors. It’s generally very hard for indie game studios to find investors willing to invest time, money, and/or advice in their project, particularly in traditional gaming. Because of CGC Pitch, DGame companies can pitch their project to investors in exchange for money, advice, or mentorship.
Finally, CGC organizes several parties that move a conference from being great to being memorable. Anyone who’s ever attended a conference knows that, sometimes, the best connections are made after the actual conference, when the atmosphere is a bit more casual and when everyone is a bit more relaxed.
The Direction of the Industry
Andriy says that one of the benefits of organizing CGC has been the insight he’s gained into the new DGames that are coming. He says there are some really great projects further down the line, projects that will eventually take advantage of the gaming multiverse and create interoperability between different blockchains.
Andriy also noted that, in each consecutive CGC event, the level of the teams creating DGames has gone up dramatically. It’s a remarkably resilient industry. Although the crypto bear market in 2018 saw the unfortunate dissolution of many companies, many new companies were founded that can operate on a tight budget and are incredibly creative in how they apply blockchain technology. It’s one of the reasons why companies are able to quickly solve shows big blockchain problems, such as the seemingly inherent problem of scalability in blockchains (with sidechains).
The most gratifying experiences for Andriy have been the partnerships and collaborations that have resulted from people meeting at CGC, which is reason enough for him to want to connect more people and grow the DGaming pie until it’s an inevitability in the broader gaming industry. With the CGC conference doubling in size every six months, that’s bound to happen sooner rather than later.