Playing Games: EdSurge friend, Tony Wan of Luckybird Games, is hanging out at the the first Serious Play Conference and filed this report: The halls of the prestigious DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash., are plastered with gaming idols like Marios, Pokemons and Portal figures. Tuesday morning's opening session dove into education--and that pesky but omnipresent issue of funding. Conference director Clark Aldrich hosted a panel that included Tyson Greer of Ambient Insight (a significant research company focused on the educational technology markets), Alan Gershenfeld (founder and president of E-Line Media, which this past year has been a big hit with Gamestar Mechanics and received funding from the Gates Foundation), and Kevin Oakes (CEO of i4cp). A few highlights:
Tyson: "Investors will put their money where they will make money." For the first time in 2010 (and continuing in 2011), the market for game-based learning exceeded those for simulation-based games. Market for game-based learning in 2010: $262 million. Expected five-year component annual growth: 12.3%, which would bring the market to $413.2 million by 2015. The health industry has been a major player as med schools and students grab tablets for a lot of hands-on curriculum.
Alan: To all the small companies out there: "Focus on singles and doubles, not necessarily home runs." Just getting on base will mean that customers will indeed find you. And make sure that creativity runs in your publishing and marketing strategy--not just in your game and product development.
Kevin: Yah, but VCs generally want to see home runs. And to get those, you need games with user-generated content and "creative volatility"--the ability to grow out of control in ways their developers never imagined. Buzzword: crowdsource.