DevConnect lets students network with industry leaders
Published on: April 8, 2020
MassDiGI, the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute at Becker College, recently hosted DevConnect, a week-long networking event designed to give game design students the opportunity to interact with industry leaders, show off their skills, and gain valuable connections. While such networking events are usually held in person, DevConnect was held entirely online.
Timothy Loew, the executive director of MassDiGI, said his team came up with idea after hearing that the annual Game Developers Conference was being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were at PAX East when news broke about GDC, and our first thought was about all the college and university students we knew — many of whom we had just seen on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center’s show floor — who would be impacted,” Loew said. “GDC is a critically important and irreplaceable annual event for many game industry professionals, and it is no less so for many students and recent graduates looking to break into the industry.”
MassDiGI works with students from Becker as well as dozens of others in New England, across the country, and around the world.
“We felt a responsibility to create something that could offer them some value and help take a little of the sting out of the situation,” Loew said. “Monty Sharma, our managing director, came up with the idea of giving students a virtual opportunity to interact with game industry professionals in a setting that would foster the kind of positive connections that are so valuable, just like what they might have experienced at GDC.”
To make that vision a reality, the staff at MassDiGI started by asking others in the game industry for help.
“Luckily, we work with many startups, established studios, and publishers, so we felt our industry network would respond positively – and it sure did,” Loew said.
They found student volunteers to help. They also reached out to the coordinators at IGDA Scholars to see if the idea might be something they’d like to offer to their community.
Lastly, they dubbed the effort DevConnect, a virtual networking event.
“This is a hard time for everyone,” said Sharma. “It’s inspiring to see so many busy professionals taking the time to help young people just getting started.”
DevConnect gave students and recent graduates from 13 different colleges and universities, as well as current and past IGDA Scholars, the chance to take part in online mini talks, one-on-ones, and portfolio reviews with game industry professionals from 16 companies, studios, and organizations.
For students, it was an opportunity to meet with professionals and learn, gather feedback on their body of work, and get a sense of where the industry is headed.
“As I get ready for graduation next year, connecting with pros is an important part of my plan to begin establishing relationships in the game industry,” said Jennifer Kindl, a current student at Becker College and an IGDA Scholar ’19 and Microsoft Game Changer ’19 awardee. “DevConnect is the kind of event that helped me do that even amidst so much uncertainty.”
For professionals, DevConnect provided an opportunity to connect with students and give back, offer guidance, and scout the next generation of talent.
“Building a network is crucial to making it in any industry,” said Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir of Bonfire Studios and a DevConnect participant. “This is a problem for students everywhere, but once a year we used to see them at GDC. It is great that everyone was able to work together and make this happen.”
According to Loew, the DevConnect event generated more than 150 interactions.
“Despite a few technical glitches, scheduling challenges, and unforeseen pandemic-related complications, it was an experience we will learn from, improve, and do again,” he said.
The Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) at Becker College is the state-wide center, designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. To learn more about MassDiGI, please visit their website at https://www.massdigi.org/
To learn more about Becker College’s game design programs, as well as other majors offered through the School of Design & Technology, visit https://www.becker.edu/academic/academic-programs/design-technology/