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


The Power of Team

July 30, 2009

The Power of Team, Continued… In the last few weeks I have been focusing my blog posts around the partnerships in IGDA. I began with some of the external partnerships, and then moved on to staff. In this post I want to bring a very important group of partners to the fore, and that is the Special Interest Groups (SIGs). These groups are members and some non-members led by one or more member volunteers, that are focused on a specific area, be it education, production, writing, etc. These are folks who are getting things done.

One of the most important aspects of associations is the concept that we are not involved in a “Zero Sum Game”. This means that one party does not need to take from another to increase their own satisfaction. By working as part of a collective effort associations achieve dramatically more than the sum of their individual efforts. One of my mentors, John Healy, an association veteran, used the acronym T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves More). Sure I thought it was hokey, but it is also true.

Let me tell you what the SIGs have been up to lately. I should point out that recently a number of the SIGs have also been going through a bit of transition, so if they are not mentioned here, it’s mainly due to their focus on what’s coming next, not that they have been inactive.

The Quality of Life SIG, led by Judy Tyrer has loaded the “final” version of their Quality of Life Survey into the survey tool IGDA has acquired. (Blatant Plug: MEMBERS: If you haven’t filled out the member satisfaction survey, go do it. This is the report that we’ll be using to make decisions for the next 2-4 years.) When the Member Satisfaction Survey comes down, we’ll be sending out the links to the Quality of Life survey and looking forward to your comments there. The QoL group is also working on some interesting shirt/poster concepts to get the word out about their positions.

The Education SIG, led by Susan Gold has been very active. They have given a number of industry talks at various conferences aimed at bringing the education community a better understanding of their role in the IGDA and what the association can bring to them. They have also been rewriting the content for the Breaking In section of the IGDA website: http://www.igda.org/breakingin which should be released with the new website. Finally, they are putting together the education summit for GDC and getting people and studios signed up for this year’s global game jam.

Next up is the Production SIG, led by Heather Chandler. Their BIG item right now is the Leadership Forum for 2009. I have looked over the program content and I think there are some top shelf speakers lined up. As an association guy, I am pleased to see the amount of networking opportunities for leaders that have been planned into the program. In many industries, these types of event are as much known for the great ideas that come from speaking with other folks who share the same issues and challenges you do as they are for the speaker content. (Blatant Plug #2: We are offering a group registration discount this year for 5 or more people, $25 off the registration price if you register at the same time. So if your friends are going, sign up early and sign up together!) For more info and the program and schedule head on over to the Leadership Forum section of the IGDA website: http://www.igda.org/leadership/

The Localization SIG, led by Tom Edwards, is working on some great stuff with GDC. They have organized and launched the first ever Game Localization Summit at GDC 2009, which met all expectations. They are therefore following it up with a number of game localizations meetings/talks at GDC Europe. Continuing eastward into the rising sun, they are partnering with IGDA – Japan to work on some localization initiatives there, and finally returning back to the US for GDC 2010 in CA with a localization effort there as well.

The Women in Games SIG, led by Fiona Cherbak is working on quite a few things: developing a Games2Girls Program with the Game Research Lab department at Columbia, an Indie Women’s Game Design Competition in conjunction with Indiecade, a Women in Games Preservation Committee, and celebrating the launch of GameMentorOnline in cooperation with WiGI.

Then there is the Writers SIG, led by Wendy Despain, who is setting up for GDC Austin and their annual summit. I look forward to joining them and learning more about the industry and writing for game development. This group has also put the infrastructure together to launch the magazine as you may be aware. I am currently working with them to see how soon we can make this a fiscally viable option and member benefit.

I close with some folks who do a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes. The Quality Assurance SIG, led by Sheri Rubin has put together an excellent meeting at GDC and is putting together a bit of infrastructure to launch their plans for total global domination! Oops, Sheri, did I say that out loud?

Seriously though, it is the volunteers, both the leaders and the folks getting the job done. Thank all of you for your hard work, and keep it up, you’re doing great.