The 4th Quarter of 2009 is upon us. Where did the year go? I am sure many of us had some incredible plans for 2009, and I know at least my own were changed dramatically by the economy. Things haven’t been all bad, as I have been visiting the chapters and calling/visiting members, I have learned that there are a great deal of new and exciting things going on in our industry. Naturally, I can’t tell you about most of them, but that seems to be a given in our group. 🙂
What I can tell you about is what’s going on with IGDA.
We’ve launched the new website, and as I mentioned in numerous spots, it’s going to be a work in progress for the rest of my time here at IGDA. In an industry where it is common to spend a long time developing and releasing a FINAL product, that can sound like a negative, but in an association, it means that we are listening to you, the members. Aside from a few minor glitches and one larger one, the site launch was very successful. All of the content and user data migrated successfully, the new systems and solutions are in place and doing what was expected, and we have access to a lot of new functionality, especially on the back end that will make managing the site much better.
The forums’ speed seems to be an issue. In researching Drupal, I am learning that this speed issue is not uncommon, especially in this module. I don’t know how readily this info was available 2 years ago when we started with the website, but there is a lot out there now. The good news is, there are a lot of potential solutions, and believe me, we’re trying them. Mark Deloura, our Board member liaison for the website has been digging into the code and implementing and testing changes and enhancements and such for the last 2 weeks to see what works. The Board and I have discussed the issue and we’re committed to ensuring that the forums get back to the level of performance folks are used to, even if that means moving back to an alternative forum software like vBulletin and linking back and forth. I’m not quite ready to choose that option yet, and want to keep working with the new system, since the rest of the site’s performance has really come up to speed. (Sorry, I can never resist a good, or bad, pun.)
We just had our second webinar, Tom Buscaglia presented Indie Gold, a walkthrough of digital distribution models. It was very well attended with over 80 member locations logging in. Again a strong Q&A session followed, and some great sharing of information for any publisher, Independent or Studio, who is looking at this model for getting their games out. I am currently putting together the remainder of the series for the year, and we have some great folks who have volunteered to step up and do a presentation.
Yes, that’s right, I said Health Insurance. No, we’re not the new Public Option the president has been speaking about, but I was tasked by the Board, and specifically Bob Bates and Jamil Moledina to look into the options available to the IGDA to provide insurance options to our members. Naturally there are a lot of issues around this topic. The fact that it’s state regulated and exempt from anti-trust, what options do we need to have, how can we ensure it’s cost competitive to offer, how do you provide a carrier with risk pool information, what do you do outside the US, is there a one-size-fits-all program, how do you ensure people can stay with Doctors they know, How do we protect the IGDA from undue risk, etc., etc.
At this time the IGDA is in the final stages of partnering with a nationally recognized and well known broker of insurance services called Health Benefits Professionals & Association Health Programs. Before you read about and get excited about this program, I want to be clear that we are in the contracting and negotiation stage. While there are no blockers in front of us, any of you who have done contracts know that means a bunch of back and forth and discussions. Then there will be a kick off and launch meeting, where we will walk through the core elements of implementation, communications and marketing the program. Then we develop the materials. Then we’ll launch. My goal is to have this program viable in the first half of January. I will work towards getting it out sooner, but this announcement is more about giving you insight as to what the IGDA is working on as opposed to announcing the program itself.
The group we have selected after 3 months of research and review works with a wide range of A rated carriers and does not offer a single option. Instead, they work with you, as an individual, as the HR representative for a group, as an unemployed professional looking to cover their family, as a small business owner, or whatever your situation is. They talk with you about your needs, the options available to you, your budget, etc. Then they will come back with some solutions for you to review. The pricing they negotiate and the fact that you are included in a larger risk pool of over 180 other associations, allows them to offer you rates and options not available to the general public.
This organization has been around for a long time and worked with a number of associations to offer plans just like this one. They have over 180 national associations, both professional (serving individuals) and trade (serving companies) as members of their group. They have a full time staff that are set up to answer any questions you may have, and they are very responsive. In my due diligence for this project I spoke with several other associations that use them, and they received glowing recommendations.
Again, this programs is for both individuals and companies who are members of the IGDA. This creates more value for you as a member regardless of your employment status, and allows members who are independent, unemployed, or part of a studio or publisher to use this benefit if it works for them.
Let me direct, there are some of you for whom this is not going to be the cheapest option, and some of you for whom this is not going to be the best option. Some of you may be comfortable going with a non-“A” rated carrier, or may have access to brokers who are friends or have other relationships to allow you to get a better rate somehow. That’s ok, all that means is that you are one of the lucky folk who have a great alternative. For the majority of our members this is going to be an awesome program, and provide some options that you may not have had before.
Another thing: This program is going to roll out with US options only. I know the IGDA is an International group, and this program is geared towards the US members. That’s true. As I have said many times about EVERYTHING since I began, this will be an evolutionary process. We WILL continue to look at expanding this program, either through our current partners or through alternative partners in any country where we have members. As you might imagine, in countries when medicine is provided for all citizens, this isn’t going to be necessary. In others, the regulatory and commercial issues of providing such a program may deter us from being able to get one up right away. However, think of the US as a test case. If this works here, then we will begin to seriously consider expansion of the program.
Finally, by partnering with this group, we will have the opportunity to roll out other programs for our members through a similar agreement: Long Term Care insurance (any of you with aging parents know what I mean), liability insurance, equipment financing and leasing options, Auto/Homeowners Insurance, Workers Comp, and others. Naturally, we are beginning in the area where there appears to be the greatest need.
IGDA Leadership Forum:
If you’ve been living under a rock then you might not be aware that we have an excellent meeting coming up in mid November called the IGDA Leadership Forum. We’ve got 30 talented professionals speaking on a range of topics that are going to knock the attendees socks off. In addition we have nearly 200 professionals who are attending in one form or another to participate in a great networking and engagement opportunity.
If you haven’t registered for this conference, you still can, but contact one of our Board members and get a discount code. No sense in paying full price when you don’t have to. We will be allowing for on-site registrations, but the discounts will not be available at that time.
SCRUM Certification Course
This program with Clinton Keith is Nov. 10 & 11, and teaches the full range of items related to bringing SCRUM to your team and organization. At the end of the course you will be eligible for the national certification as a scrum professional and materials to use to make SCRUM work in your group. Clinton’s background is in Game Development, and he focuses the program on game developers and how the process works in your specific environment. I’ll be able to attend as well, and am very much looking forward to it.
There are a number of other initiatives in the works, such as Chapter Chartering for several new and existing chapters, as well as SIG elections for several of these awesome volunteer groups. In addition the Global Game Jam is warming up, and if you are interested, you should contact Susan Gold about that. We’re continuing to develop the newsletter and are looking for more contributions form members like you. So if you’ve a story to tell, long or short, get in touch with David Wright or Joseph Sapp, and we’ll get you into the publication.
The IGDA has begun moving in a good direction. We’ve been streamlining a lot of processes and options here at the central office, as well as looking at new programs and services, some of which you are beginning to see. I look forward to visiting more chapters and meeting more of you as I travel as well. So please keep your arms and legs inside the cabin at all times, because we’ll be continuing this journey at high speed for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for your membership. It’s for your professional success, with your help as a volunteer and because you make games that change the world that we exist. We can’t do it without you.