Healthcare Update

November 20, 2009

Dear IGDA Members:


We had a lot of follow up and communications this week after the Board meeting and the Leadership Forum.  The notes from the Board meeting and Minutes will be coming later on today.


Beyond that:

– Newsletter:  The latest issue of the newsletter came out this week, with some final edits and reviews required.  Changing this over to HTML is on the list, but not a top priority at this time.


– Healthcare Program:  Some announcements and clarifications went out throughout the week, and I had a follow up call with Stuart Pase, the President of AHP.  He and I have scheduled a kick off meeting for Dec. 1st.  Joe and Jamil will be on the call, and anyone else who would like to join is welcome.  I have not set a final time with Stuart yet, but will send out the info ASAP.  I believe we will be able to have a soft Launch in December, and a full launch in January.  So we’ll be discussing the operational aspects and communications/Marketing plan for the year ahead.


– Webinar:  We had Marc Mencher’s webinar this week.  79 attendees, and another successful on-line event.  Tom Edwards is next, and Joseph and I are in discussions with a potential sponsor for that webinar, and possibly a larger/longer term sponsor arrangement as well.  Our call with this company will take place next Monday, and I will apprise you of the results when I return to the office.  We have also begun lining up the 1st quarter webinars, and I am trying to get us up to having 2/month, which is a little more effort but well worth it I believe.


– Leadership Forum Wrap Up:  We had several calls:  Josh/Staff, Josh/Toby, Josh/Heather, about the leadership forum this week, and I am planning on having a post mortem with the committee on the event the 1st week of December, and also beginning the process of getting the forum started for next year. I want to have the location, sponsor options, and content locked down by May of 2010, so we can do a proper job of marketing the event.

– Website:  We’re continuing to move forward here.  With a request for volunteers going out today to form a technical task force.


– GDC: The team and I have been working on logistics and sponsorship opps this week.  We are confirming the Metreon (sp?) location, which should be large enough and very accessible.  In addition, we are building a list of sponsor opportunities which we will begin selling as early as the 1st week of December.  We have 8 interested partners looking for sponsorship opportunities, and as I explained during the board meeting, I am presenting smaller dollar options that can scale up to larger amounts with parties interest.  Jamil has volunteered to be part of our second GDC sponsor discussion where we will begin discussing the results of the brainstorming sessions and how to go after sponsorships.

We had a number of minor operational items and SIG ops items that went on behind the scenes this week, but overall, a solid week, and I look forward to pushing ahead with our new programs and revenue opportunities for December and the 1st quarter of next year.




– I will be out of the office, and am not planning on doing much IGDA stuff next week, with the exception of this sponsorship sales call on Monday.


– I will be heading up to Mass for the Boston Chapter meeting on the 8th.  Darius has invited me to give an IGDA year end wrap up.






What’s been going on?

October 8, 2009

Dear IGDA Members,

Over the last few weeks, I hope you have noticed a concerted effort to reduce the number of emails coming from IGDA to your email inbox.  I know it seemed like we were sending something out every day, and a few folks voiced complaints about it.

Let me begin by saying the reason for the large amount of email output was threefold: A. We had a number of issues surrounding the special election, Board changes, and decisions that had to get out to the membership to remain within the structure for notifications in the bylaws.  B. When I arrived at the end of June, one of the things that a number of the people whom I spoke with, and which I also saw on the forums and such was a desire for more transparency on what is going on with and at the IGDA.  Finally, C. Since I have arrived, we’ve been instituting a number of new programs and changes to existing ones that were important to bring to your attention BEFORE they went live.  In fact, we’ve had one big project happening each month since that time and likely to continue into the near future.

That said, I hate coming to my inbox and finding a lot of email as much as the next person.  So, in hearing that people felt the pendulum had swung too far in the notification direction, we’ve cut back intentionally.  I hope that you have seen this.  As part of my efforts to keep the quantity of email light, but the quality of information high (signal to noise ratio as is commonly used) I will be sending out semi-regularly emails like this one, which have a large amount of content for you to read and be aware of.

I also will continue to post to my Blog as often as possible, and we will be using twitter and our Facebook account more to allow people to opt in to our messaging. So, there will be a lot of info forthcoming on various items, but I need you to do your part if you want to stay in the loop and actually read these various areas where the content will be.

In this email we will be talking about:
– The New Website
– The Leadership Forum
– The Webinar Series
– Unemployed Members Dues Rate

The new website:

According to the legends I have heard from before my arrival, this website has been in the making for about 4 years.  While not getting into the details of these legends, I am also aware that it seemed like the new site was just over the horizon for a long time.  Having worked for a web developer in a previous life, I understand how sometimes these expectations can lead us to set launch dates that don’t end up working out.  That said, we set a launch date in Sept. of Oct. 19th. At the moment we are still on track to hit that date and go live.

“DO WHAT!!??!!”

Yes, we plan on launching the new website that Jason and Tim and now Mark and Tobi have been spearheading for some time.  Let me share some details for those of you who may not have heard from your SIG or Chapter leaders already.

The new website has a front end based on Drupal, and a Back End that runs via CiviCRM.  Naturally the back end piece is more for the operations of the association, but it also runs the group security aspects of the site.

The new website has some interesting tools and new functions and features that you should find useful.  Specifically the ability for each logged in user to be able to customize some of the display aspects so that you can filter in the content you are regularly accessing more easily.  We’ll also have polling abilities, and elections capacity, and some other new toys that I’ll be creating a tutorial to use with Joseph Sapp who has been our webherd for the duration of this project.

For many of you, the change will be mainly in a little more easily accessed content and some new opportunities to use the site.  But for the SIG & Chapter Leaders and Staff, there is a great deal of added capabilities that we will have.  As the previous site did not actually have an effective content management system, and the pages were being done manually by Joseph Sapp.  There will also be a new member’s only content areas, where various benefits will begin to be placed that are for IGDA members specifically. An example will be the webinar recordings and sign up areas, but that’s the start of what will likely grow to a strong reason to be a member of the IGDA.  This area is the direct result of input from the membership survey in Sept. where the majority of you indicated there should be some member’s only features and programs.

In addition, many of the database tools were not readily adjustable, and the new CiviCRM piece should allow us a great deal more capability, and the ability to reduce expenses associated with processing and maintaining the 12,000 member records we have on file.

Naturally, there will be hiccups.  I don’t know what these will be (if I did I would fix them so they never happened) but we’ll address any challenges as they appear.  I hope you will be kind to the staff and volunteers as we make this migration happen.  As I have said in other communications this project too is an evolution, and even once it’s launched we will continue to grow the website in various directions to offer more capabilities and ease of use.

I have been counseled by some folks that the new website does not have the visual design impact that we, as the IGDA should have.  I accept that and agree.  That said, I think it is important to continue to move forward with the changes that have been accomplished with the new site, and adjust the visual design elements once the site is up and stable.  To that end, if there are any volunteers who would like to be part of the visual design elements of the website, especially those with artistic talent or Drupal experience, please let myself or Joseph Sapp or Mark D. know so that when we are ready to move forward in that area, we know whom to turn to.

I am excited about getting this site up and running.  There is a great deal of effort that has gone into this project, and Jason and Tim should really be given a hearty thank you for their time on this project.  While we will continue to evolve this application to our needs, the foundation is strong and they are largely responsible for it getting to where it is.

Many of you may be wondering about the current website, the content, the wiki, the forums, etc. We will be maintaining the original site as is, and have an archival link to it.  The purpose here is to allow for any content that was missed during the migration to be gathered and moved over after the official launch, and also to maintain the original site as a back up in the event that some point of failure prevents the anticipated launch.  (Again, I don’t expect this, or I would have fixed it, but as game developers, I am sure you all understand that sometimes things happen beyond our control.)  The wiki will remain as is for the immediate future.  We have received a great deal of positive feedback on the wiki, and I prefer not to tamper with a “good thing” when I have one.  We will also be looking at moving the forum content over, but that is a stage 2 endeavor.  For the time being our main focus is getting up some new member’s only forums as well as public ones.  Finally, the SIGs and Chapters have been given some heads up warning that this change is coming, and some options for keeping or moving their content over.

Again, this launch is officially scheduled for Oct. 19th, with a soft target of Oct. 16th.  Your positive thoughts and gentle indications when you find any errors will go a long way towards making this a great experience for everyone.

The Leadership Forum:

In the event that you may not know, we are running an IGDA Leadership forum:

Times are tight for everyone these days, and that has made many associations cancel or limit their meetings.  The IGDA suggests that because of the fact that the economy is down, this is the perfect time for you and your team to attend the IGDA Leadership Forum.  Get away from the gamer events, and come and spend 2 days with professionals just like yourself, who are facing the same problems.  Sure none of us can talk about the projects we are working on, but we CAN talk about the problems we’re facing and share ideas and solutions to challenges we’ve been dealing with.

The IGDA has offered a number of discount codes, if you don’t have one, contact your favorite Board member and get theirs.  We are firmly behind the notion that the more game developers we can bring together in a meaningful discussion, the better an event we will have.  Thus the promotional codes are extended, and we are actively encouraging you to come, and listen to some high powered speakers who have been in the trenches alongside you.  Ask them the hard questions and see if they have some solutions that might not have occurred to you yet. Then talk to other folks who might be able to offer you some thoughts and resources to look at later on when you’re working in the middle of the night and you just need a little help.

We’ve got over 100 folks attending already, and we are expecting 200 or so.  A small, high powered meeting, with plenty of time built in to network, so you don’t need to stand in the hall during a session to chat with people about the issues you’re facing.

Register on-line with your promo code:

SCRUM Certification:

In conjunction with our leadership forum, we are partnering with Clinton Keith on offering a SCRUM Master Certification course.  If you’ve used Agile or your team needs a little more effective means of being efficient to prevent crunch or reworking projects, this is an awesome opportunity to send one or two folks and then bring the program back and get the whole team up to speed.  Information on the course is here:

We’ve limited the seating to 35 participants, and we are selling out, so please register now to reserve your seat.  If you attend both the certification and the Leadership forum, we’re offering you 10% off both in addition to your discount code for the Leadership Forum.

Register Here:

IGDA Members Only Webinar:

One of the things that came out of the member satisfaction survey was the desire to see more practical benefits for your membership dues.  To that end, we have begun a year round series of webinars for IGDA members only.  Instead of asking you to always come to the conference, we’re bringing some of the conference materials to you.

Our first webinar was on the fundamentals of SCRUM, Lean and Agile with Clinton Keith, and we had over 200 folks register for the event and over 150 stay for the full hour and a half.  We’ve recorded the session, and the recording should go live for everyone to see as early as today.

We are lining up speakers in all topic areas now for the next 6 months, and my goal is to bring you a new webinar every 2-3 weeks.  If we have more content than that, we’ll ramp up the number of presentations, but to start I’d like to space it out as we all (members, presenters and staff) get comfortable with the concept, the expectations and the technology.

Our next Scheduled Webinar will be Tom Buscaglia, The Game Attorney, presenting: Indie Gold: Downloadable Content Models for Core Casual Games.  Which will take place at 12:00 noon eastern/9am Pacific on Oct. 27th.  Of course if you know Tom, you know you need to attend this webinar, because NO ONE knows what he might say!

A separate invitation to register for the webinar will follow, as will a full schedule of the webinars lined up for the rest of the year.

REQUEST:  If you, yes you, IGDA member reading this, know of someone who has an interesting topic and wants to speak via webinar to the group, please email me, and we’ll get you on the schedule.  Highly specific and technical presentations are welcome.  This is the perfect format for a session that might only appeal to 20 people, because we can fit you in and get you in front of the 20 people who will care about what you have to say.  All disciplines are welcome!  We have members in almost every area related to Game Development, so whether your topic is visual, code, business, or humanity related, let us put you in front of the people.  We want to build content for our members, and this is a wonderful way to be able to accommodate that.  (We are also looking for presentations in languages besides English, specifically Japanese, French, Spanish and German.  Let us know if you have that type of capacity and interest in presenting at a time convenient to a chapter across the globe.)

Chapters: If you are having some trouble getting speakers for your local chapter meetings, we can use this technology to find you a great speaker that you can project up for your group.

Unemployed Member Dues Rate:

This also has been announced before, but I think it is important enough to make note of again.  The Board of Directors of the IGDA understands that many of our members may currently be between assignments, and when the dues renewal comes at such a time, it becomes a question of personal resources.  In order to attempt to support these efforts, the Board has approved an Unemployed renewal rate of $25 for any member whose dues renewal comes up at a time when they are between jobs.  This is an honor system program, and is done with the intention of supporting our members who want to stay involved in the IGDA, yet may be concerned about their own finances.

We have a number of new initiatives coming as well.  We are looking into a career center, some insurance opportunities, lifetime membership, and more.  As these come closer to launch, I’ll be filling you in.



Joshua Caulfield
Executive Director


New Initiatives

September 10, 2009

Dear IGDA Member,

Thank you for your continued membership in the IGDA.  I am delighted to report we have a number of new initiatives that are live and more that are coming, and I wanted to take a few moments of your time to give you a heads up about what is going on in your association that you can take advantage of.

IGDA Unemployed Member Rate: These are tough economic times for everyone. If you or one of the members you know has recently decided not to renew their membership due to having lost their job, let them know that the IGDA is offering a discount upon renewal.  This special rate is available only to unemployed members, and we are using the honor system here.  If you are an independent developer, then we don’t really consider you unemployed.  However, If you tell us you are unemployed, you can access the discount upon your IGDA renewal date.

SCRUM Certification with Clinton Keith:  If you (or your team) have been looking for ways to increase efficiency and productivity levels as well as communication and teamwork, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that the IGDA has partnered with Clinton Keith to offer a special 2 day Game Developer specialized training for using SCRUM (an iterative incremental management technique)  for game studios.

This 2 day workshop is limited to 35 professionals from the game development community.  Clinton has adapted his training program to use Game Specific examples and cases as well as anecdotes and examples from his extensive experience to show you and your team how to take the core concepts of SCRUM and apply them directly to your current project.

When you leave this workshop, you’ll have a set of project management tools and reference material to bring back to your organization and apply immediately.  With the practices and techniques that Clinton goes over, you will see an increase in team communication, understanding between team members, and awareness of the project needs and status.  These lead all of your folks to begin pulling more effectively toward reaching milestones and deadlines, and be proactive about solving issues from one section of a project to another.

The workshop will be held in San Francisco, CA, at the San Francisco Airport Marriott on November 10th and 11th.  It will lead up to the IGDA Leadership Forum, and attendees who register for both will receive a great discount off both registration fees.

Seating is limited to 35 participants and beginning to fill up, so register today: (There are additional discounts for teams of 3 or more who wish to attend, please contact me directly about these opportunities

The IGDA Leadership Forum:  Our 3rd annual Leadership Forum and Professional Development Conference is coming up soon on November 12th & 13th in San Francisco, CA.   Held at the San Francisco Marriott, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with over 200 top Game Development Professionals.  Join Samantha Ryan, Senior Vice President of Development and Production for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE); Chris Satchell, Chief Technology Officer for International Gaming Technologies, as well as a host of top shelf industry professionals as we run 3 tracks of programs and networking sessions for all types of game development professionals.  Stay for our cocktail reception and introduce yourself to some of the top guns in the business, and meet other rising stars who are beginning to make names for themselves.  Whether you are an independent producer, a studio head, or simply an overachiever, this seminar offers a series of powerful sessions designer to make you a valuable asset in the game development community.

Seating is limited, so take a few minutes and register today to save your spot at the 3rd annual IGDA Leadership Forum.

Free Member Webinar Series:  The IGDA is launching a new series of webinars titled “The IGDA Presents…”   These will begin on Sept. 29th with Clinton Keith.  More details to follow under a separate header with our initial 3 month schedule.

Well that’s a few things to chew on for the moment.  More to come.

I will be attending the GDC in Austin next week, and welcome any of you who would like to connect to reach out via email or phone and let’s schedule a time.



Getting Started

July 8, 2009

Good Morning,

As promised, I will be posting once a week to this blog for all IGDA members to be more aware of what is going on within the association.  Many of you speak about greater transparency, and this is one way I’ll provide you with greater insight on how things are being handled in the association.

As an aside: This post is much longer than what I will be providing on a regular basis.  It is also at a very high level, summarizing what is happening in many areas.  Moving forward I will work on giving you a synopsis of general items, and depth on one or two areas that are timely.

There’s a LOT going on at the IGDA, and since you’ve asked for more info, here it comes. There is no particular order to the below, so please do not assign any level of prestige to any specific positioning of a topic.  Let’s get to it:

First, allow me to thank each of you who paid to renew your membership dues this year.  Globally the world’s economies are facing quite a challenge, and I know that paying membership dues can be a thoughtful decision.  One of my primary commitments to each of you that have paid your dues is to begin making the IGDA a “no-brainer”.  Over the coming months you will begin seeing some changes in the value being brought to you for your membership dollars.  You will begin seeing new programs and new services as well as changes to existing projects that will make paid membership an easy decision to make.

Second, there is a lot of “back end” work going on at the moment.  Jason did an excellent job as a one man show for a long time, and even with the outsourcing of some operations to the Talley Management Group (TMG) he still was able to keep his fingers in all of the IGDA projects.  This means I have a lot of learning to do, which was a large part of the reason for not announcing me immediately upon my arrival.

As I walk through the operational areas like:  Financials, Meeting Planning, Membership Recruitment/Retention/Maintenance, Communications (including the newsletter), Website, SIG and Chapter support, I find there aren’t a lot of procedures and policies that are understood by the folks involved.  This has led to a number of small but visible issues, and some others that have gone on behind the scenes. A fair amount of my time is currently being spent in walking through the various areas of operation, cleaning up processes, and creating some documentation of how the IGDA does things and why.  I am applying a number of association best practices and putting these together in an operations manual.  While the manual will take time to fully develop, it will make it much easier for us to run the association, for the Board to make decisions, and for the membership at large to understand how we approach making things happen.

Third, I am very pleasantly surprised at the number of projects, proposals and ideas being brought forward by the membership for the IGDA to pursue.  This group is fantastically creative and the level of volunteerism is extraordinary.  However, there is one resource that the IGDA lacks to be able to pursue all of the programs on the board; money.  Thus I am looking at where we are spending our financial resources and where we can trim back without reducing the level of service we are providing.

However, the IGDA runs a pretty lean ship, so the real journey ahead of us for increasing financial resources is to find new sources of revenue. Clearly the IGDA is not interested in raising the dues for members, so please be aware that at this time a dues increase is off the table. As an association professional, one of the largest sources that I see as untapped by this group is in terms of sponsorships.

In looking at the forms of sponsorship being used by events and other organizations in the industry, the Game Development community is very insular.  I see the same sponsors being used again and again.  Well kudos to them for supporting their industry, but we need to look a little outside the box.  I will be coming to you with sponsors who are unrelated to games development, but who are related to your quality of life.  These may be consumer electronics, automobiles, financial services/insurance, or other life-oriented companies.  The mission of the IGDA is, in part, to “enhance the lives” of game developers.

To help me with recruiting new sponsors to the IGDA, via Jamil Moledina, has extended an offer to a sales professional from within the industry.  This person will be reaching out to traditional and new sponsors, providing them with the opportunities to get in front of you in a tasteful and reserved manner.  (If any of you watch public television, or listen to NPR you’ll get a sense of what we are planning.)

I would also like to mention here that AutoDesk has agreed to support the IGDA again.  Their work with Gordon Bellamy has led to the continuation of what appears to me to be a great win/win relationship.  So allow me to briefly thank them for their involvement in the industry.

Next, after nine years and now having over 14,000 paid members, it is time for the IGDA to consider itself as an entity that will continue into the indefinite future.  As such, it is important for the organization to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building a reserve fund for rainy days, also to set aside a separate fund for new proposals such as the magazine the Writer’s SIG has begun to develop.  While saving today limits the amount of spending we can do right now, in the long run we’ll have a stronger financial position form which to move as an organization.

Fifth, I mentioned previously there are some great projects that have been developed using the IGDA by some of our more active members.  One project in specific is the Global Game Jam, produced as an offshoot of the Education SIG.  This is just a great program, and the Board of the IGDA has outspoken support for it continuing.  With the current limitations and requirements of being an association event; we are working with the founders of the GGJ to find a win/win means of allowing them to run the program within the IGDA or take it independent to run on its own.  I expect great things from the next GGJ regardless of where it officially resides and encourage each of you to consider participating.  We had a limited number of actual IGDA members involved last time, and it would be great to see more.

Sixth, the third annual Leadership Forum is getting ready to accept registrations.  I’ve watched the DVDs of this event, and for professionals in the industry I can’t imagine a reason why you wouldn’t want to expose yourself to the high caliber professionals presenting.  The LF committee is finalizing the speakers for this year, and I’ll be working on putting together the operational aspects of the event.  You’ll be seeing much more about this event in the next few weeks, and I encourage you all to attend.

Next, the Website:  Yes, many people have made me aware of the history here and thank you all for your insights.  Tim Langdell has taken a very active role in picking up the ball from Jason’s handoff, and running with it.  I know he is interested in making some of the announcements himself, but I think he’ll be ok with me opening the flaps a little.  There is a working version of the site which still has a number of “blockers” preventing its launch. Most of these “blockers” have been identified by the SIG and Chapter leaders (Thank you all for taking the time to work with us on this project.) and are being resolved by the developers under the watchful eyes of Tim and Tobi Saulnier.  No website is ever perfect, and I am sure there will need to be multiple evolutions of this one, but the initial impact the site will have on the capabilities of the IGDA will be important enough for us to move forward even with imperfection.  We’ll be putting out more on this topic over the next few weeks as we get closer to being able to show all of you things.

Eighth:  On that note, there was a recent issue with the Wiki.  I apologize for any consternation that may have caused any of you.  In summary; we had a “rogue script” that had been being bad since 2007, and the host decided to take action.  Tim Langdell and Joseph Sapp (whom you all know as Joda) stepped in as soon as we learned of the issue and worked through some scenarios to resolve it.  In the end we upgraded the software, which resolved the problem, but used new directional indicators, and thus created the perception that data was lost.  This was corrected shortly afterwards, and at this time the Wiki seems to be running very well.

I would also like to thank the SIG leaders for their involvement in the issue.  It should be noted that the new website will not be directly impacting the wiki other than the fact that we will be moving both to a more robust environment when we go live.  I commit to you that I will be announcing all of the activities with these as we move forward.

As an aside:  The formal announcement of my coming on as the executive director was supposed to occur on July 1st.  Because of the wiki challenge, most of my web based resources were focused on resolving that issue.  Thus I made the decision to delay the announcement and stay focused on solving the issue at hand, rather than taking resources off that project and getting the word out.

Ninth:  Quality.  I have heard from many of you concerns about the IGDA’s ability to “do things right”.  In my immersion into the association I understand why some of you might feel that way.  I also understand why things are the way they are.  For a very long time, you had a single paid professional running your organization, with a handful of volunteers, and then you hired an outsourcing firm to take on some of the administrative functions.  Then for 2-3 months you lost that paid professional.

Allow me to be direct: the IGDA runs on limited personnel resources.  Even with the outstanding level of volunteer support, we simply cannot do everything that is on our plate.  In addition, for those of you who are in project management or development, you are aware of the tradeoffs required between cost, quality and speed.  It may be that quality for various reasons (good and bad) took the backseat in the tradeoffs.

I will be working hard to change that.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be quick.  It will mean focusing our attention on one project at a time and trying for a higher level of satisfaction in the results.  I am personally committed to quality, and I will be bringing that to this position.

Please note:  I said Quality, not Perfection.  I am not perfect, and I will make many mistakes.  My efforts will be in not making the same mistake twice.

Finally:  The Board of Directors:  These folks really deserve a note of thanks.  I know that the forums are filled with suggestions of “do nothing” and “sinister” boards.  Again, I understand why some of you may have gotten that impression.  But in getting involved here on the back end, what I see are a group of people who are passionate about the association, who also have real careers and families and lives to live.  There was a great deal of behind the scenes activity that had to occur to keep the IGDA afloat while we were in transition.  Even now, the Board is spending a great deal of time in giving me the insight and support I need to take over all the tasks involved.  Consider that many of them have given up 10-20 hours a week over the last three months between association activities and the Exec search.  Perhaps there was more going on than was obvious, and perhaps the lack of communications was less a result of sinister activity and more a result of having only so much time in a day.