New Board Members

September 29, 2009

Dear IGDA members who attended the Austin GDC,

I had an excellent time meeting many of you throughout the week, and look forward to doing so again in the future.  It is clear to me that you understand the power of your chapters is in your volunteers and their willingness and desire to make the organization into something greater than the sum of its parts.

As you know, I have been working diligently since July 1st to increase the value of the central organization. Being developers, I am also confident that you understand nothing is achieved overnight or by one’s self.  The IGDA Board of Directors has been integrally involved in all of the changes you have seen in the last 3 months, and there are MANY more to come.

It is because the need is so great that the Board, upon reviewing the departure of 3 elected members, decided that additional volunteers were needed.  The full Board reviewed and discussed a number of candidates, specifically focusing in on those who had expressed interest previously, and who had skill sets that the organization needs in this critical period of transition.

We have challenges ahead, which should not be news to you.  But we also have solid plans to rebuild membership, increase participation, and bring increased value to each individual member.  We also have the administrative issues that any organization servicing 12,000 people worldwide faces.  So it was that we needed some help, and could not wait for the election cycle to roll about. This is exactly why the ability for the Board to appoint members was placed into the by-laws in the first place.  These folks have agreed to serve for shortened 2 year terms specifically to support the association in this time of transition. There is work to be done, and they agreed to help get on with the jobs at hand.

I ask each of you to support these new Board members as well as the existing ones.  For without them, the IGDA as an international organization would not exist.  I also ask you to consider volunteering to run for the Board yourself.  It is not an easy task, and it requires more than a little of your time, but if you want to make a difference in the IGDA, that is the best place to be.

Sincerely,

Joshua


New Website Update

September 23, 2009

Dear Members,

I recently sent out an update to the chapter and SIG leadership about the website status.  While there are still likely to be challenges ahead, and timelines do change for various reasons, I wanted to let everyone know what was happening for the sake of transparency.  Here was the email I sent:

Good Morning Folks,

I know you’ve all been waiting for nearly 4 years, and I also know that there always seems to be a “it’s almost ready” answer coming to you.  So in order to give you all the best info, I’m going to give you more info than you really need, to provide some insight into where things are, what’s recently been going on, and where we’re headed. (Sorry this email is long and focused, I am open to any questions that you might have, but wanted to be as tight as possible below.)

1.  You should all as chapter or SIG coordinators have someone who can access the website for you.  If not please email myself (joshua@igda.org) or Joseph Sapp (joda@igda.org) so we can make sure that happens.

2.  When I came on at the beginning of July, we had a number of “serious” blockers.  Things that just really needed to be finished so that the site would work, and we wouldn’t look like complete idiots for putting it out there.  Tim L. (please hold the comments) did a good job in moving through those with Tobi and Myself and Joseph backing him up.  (Also mad props to the QA folks and sig and chapter leaders who provided testing and bugs and the like.  Thank you all.)

2a.  With Tim’s resignation, Mark D. has stepped up as a technically proficient Board member to take this project to the final steps.

2b.  Because of the email exploit during the previous month, it was clear that we needed to do a security audit to ensure that the site was not open to similar shenanigans.  At this time, while no site is impervious, all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure we are as secure as possible with the resources we have available.

3. This week at GDC Austin, Tobi, Mark, Joseph and Myself had a brief conversation about what is going on with the website, the migration plan, blockers, etc.

3a.  There are no “major” blockers at this time.  i.e.  There are still a number of minor issues here and there, and I am well aware that the visual design is not what the group would like, but we don’t feel it’s worth waiting another 6 months to fix these lesser items.

3b. I am committing to you that this release of the website will not be the end of the project.  We WILL work to fix bugs and other items as they appear.  We will also work on reworking the visual design to be a more effective, engaging and exciting visitor experience.  But these items will need to wait a bit (likely a review in the first quarter of 2010.)

4. We have a migration plan in place, as well as back up plans for the current site, transfers of forums and wiki content, and list swap-overs.  This will not be an easy process, and I am sure we will have a few mistakes during the process.  I am counting on your help to review the site and let me know where issues occur.

4a. Part of the migration process is to ensure that all of the content you folks want transferred over to the new site for your chapter areas is moved.  So please keep an eye on the migration date and let myself or Joseph know ASAP if that date is not going to work for you.

4b.  I have been clearly informed by the community, that the previous site info is critical to have.  So for a period of time we will retain the old site, it simply won’t be directly accessible to the public.  Please do not plan on having access to it regularly, as we will need to take it down after a period.

5. I would very much like to have the new site go live on Oct. 19th (arranging for a soft transition in the evening of Oct. 16th, with the weekend to work out any initial kinks).  However let me be clear, we have not confirmed that will be doable yet.  I am letting you in on the discussion phase.  We may need to do it earlier in the day, or on a different day altogether.  But I will keep you apprised.

OK, that’s the plan as it stands.  I will get more info out to you as we get into a more realistic stance.  Please move any content you have over, and again, if you haven’t had access, let me know.

There are other things going on also:
– We can set up chapter groups for specific reserved content to your chapters. (Sigs as well)
– Elections can be done via the site.
– We have need for a users guide, which the writer’s sig generously agreed to create for us, and I am approaching them on now.

Sincerely,
Joshua


Greetings from Joshua

July 2, 2009

Dear IGDA Members,

Hello, my name is Joshua Caulfield, and I’m the new Executive Director of the IGDA.

I’ve had the opportunity over the last 2 weeks to reach out and connect with many of you – including several SIG and Chapter Leaders – getting some direct feedback while at the same time learning the fundamentals of the operations.  If this were an RPG game, I’ve basically been in the starter zone learning the controls and meeting with the Characters who will be influential in my continued success.  The only thing missing are the hint messages that point me in the right direction.

This is the first post in my “IGDA Staff Blog.”  While I will not be the only IGDA staffer posting here, I am committing to you right now that I will post here at least once a week about what is going on in the IGDA.  Most of the posts will be shorter than this first one, but I’ll try and summarize the important facets of whatever topic we are wrestling with.  You are always welcome to reach out via email to any of the IGDA staff on any topic for more info.

This blog is the first step in creating a greater level of communication between you, the membership, the volunteer leaders whom you elect each year, and the staff who are hired to affect your will in the organization.  I’ll come back to that more in the coming months, but I want to make it very clear that your desire for more info about what is going on has been heard, and through a number of means I will be seeking to provide more awareness and greater insight into what’s going on and why we do things the way we do.

So let’s get into the blog post, shall we?

Let’s start with the important stuff.  I’m an avid gamer.  I started at age 5 playing red box D&D (not A, that was to come later).  I still play many tabletop games and have bookshelves overflowing with a number of systems in the office where I am writing this post.  I also enjoy a lot of console games.  I have most of the major systems, and a few legacy systems I pull out when I have the itch to play something out of the past.  My group of RL friends and I tend to play MMOs together, and most recently ended a long experience in World of Warcraft.  In the MMOs I tend to play the healer (though in WOW I was a shadow priest and backup healer), which in many ways ties to my enjoyment professionally of playing a supporting role allowing association members to get the most out of their own professional lives.

I like shooters, but I’m generally not good enough to be anything other than the target, so these end up having limited appeal for me over time.

With the amount of travel I have been doing I have really begun to get into casual games, and have been very impressed with where that aspect of the industry has moved.

Why me?

The first question most folks have had for me in my calls over the past few weeks is “Why did we choose an association guy instead of a game industry guy?”  It’s a valid question, and let me share with you a summary of what I suggested to the people who have asked it so far:

Organizational Maturity:

As an association, you are in a period of tremendous change.  The IGDA is not a 600 person “club” who meet once or twice a year at a big conference to exchange ideas and phone numbers.  While that still happens, the organization has grown tremendously over the last 4 years to a 12-14K membership base in over 12 countries with some real items on the agenda.  You should all be very proud of where the IGDA has gotten.

Yet now you are experiencing very traditional organizational issues related to the organizational life-cycle.  You are maturing from a Start-Up to a Growing Concern.  This brings challenges in terms of communications to the stakeholders, ensuring real value to the members, and providing financial and staff resources to the members who are seeking to enact programs. The operational processes and procedures you have had in place as a small organization are not scaling well with more projects and more members, and you have some internal debate about how much centralization vs. distributed power you want to have in the association.

Thus you need someone who understands the different needs that a maturing and transitioning organization has.  There are skills that can assist in creating operational processes in terms of running the association and managing the support staff to ensure that the membership is getting everything they can out of their dues.  Also, there is a much greater need for financial resources and the controls that come with managing a larger number of transactions and funds.  It certainly helps that the person you have selected has experience in moving from entrepreneurial management to a more organized and process driven orientation.

Industry Expertise:

You already have monstrous amounts of experience and industry competence and credibility in your Board of Directors, your SIG Leaders, your Chapter Leaders, and the hundreds of other volunteers I have already begun to associate with.  What you need is someone who can run the operations of an association.  You need a person who understands financials and membership recruitment and retention.  You need someone who knows what the form 990 is and what the tax implications are for revenues earned so we don’t lose our filing status.  You need someone who has read through the bylaws and understands how to enact them effectively, and also provide the Board some direction on cleaning them up.

You also need a professional who understands how to come up to speed on an industry, and can cross over to work with people in the event/tradeshow industry, educational institutions, financial planning and management, and the larger association community.  There are a large number of professionals who make associations their careers.  These people can move gracefully from discussing advocacy and government affairs, to finance, to creating accredited certification programs.  These are the type of people who can come into your organization, look through the current situations, and provide you with strategies, actionable plans, and point you at resources to make things happen.

In short, you need someone who understands both the business and operations side of an association, who can learn what it truly means to be a game developer, and who can then provide you with the tools to make your professional life more rewarding and more fun.

So what am I going to do?

I’ve been getting this question a lot, and it’s a good one.

Here’s the thing; The IGDA isn’t about ME, it’s about YOU.  So my first priority is to learn about and meet with as many of you as possible as quickly as possible.  I want to understand what you do, and who you are, and why you do things the way that you do.  I want to understand the industry, and the fundamentals of the game development process, and how studios work… etc.

I’ve already begun this learning process, but it’s a steep curve, and I hope you’ll be a little patient with me as I come up to speed.

Shortly, you will be receiving an email with a link to an on-line member survey. The survey is focused on two areas:  Satisfaction of the membership (what’s working for you, and what’s not; as well as what you would like to see in the future) and membership definition (demographic data to understand who the members are, what groups are represented, how we best serve you).

Please take a few minutes to give us your thoughts on these important questions.  Your answers will help me to clean up the areas where we are missing the mark, and find new programs that provide value to you in your professional lives.  By completing the member profile, you will aid me in finding new partners outside the industry who may be able to provide discounts and services in terms of increasing quality of life, professional development, and personal growth.  I will be using the data from this survey in most of my initial decisions in the coming year, so please make sure your voice is counted.

There are many more things coming, as well as a lot of internal reorganization that comes with a change in management.  I’ll keep you up to date in this blog every week by picking a topic and telling you where we stand, background as necessary, and what the plans for the future are.  If you have any questions, you may always send me an email, and I will endeavor to respond to you within 2 business days.

I am very excited to be here, and look forward to meeting and working with all of you.

Thank you for your time in reading this.

Sincerely,

Joshua