Bristol Games Hub 20th May – Colocation and Collaboration

Notes on theme 3, ‘Colocation and Collaboration, from the World Cafe session led by Dan Ashton and Caroline Chapain:

Contributions exploring the theme of ‘collaboration’ considered the possibilities and challenges of indie games developers coming together in shared spaces and how this could translate into shared projects and ways of working together.

The first major theme was sharing expertise. This could be aspects that are specific to games development, for example those with different specialisms in programming, art and graphics, and music composition coming together to provide advice and support each other. It could also be more generic, for example those from different creative sectors who could share advice on business start-up. An expanded sense of collaboration was offered here – not just collaborating on a specific project, but collaborating in learning.

The second major theme was spontaneous encounters. Here the analogy was given with going to find a specific book on a library shelf and getting attracted to and excited by what else is discovered nearby on the shelves. Through co-locating, unexpected relationships can develop and spontaneous meetings can trigger ideas and new approaches.

The third major theme concerned critical mass, and co-working hubs having an attractor quality so that external organisations (e.g. Valve) would able to connect with a range of developers more efficiently and in one go (compared to, travelling to many, different places).

When the question was phrased as co-location being ‘necessary’ for collaboration, it was suggested that perhaps it was not necessary. The example was given of international games development collaborations from UK, Northern America and Brazil that were enabled through digital network technologies and meetings that could happen ‘within game’. On this theme, the connections of collaboration across different geographical scales was flagged up.

A range of practical points were considered on how colocation and collaboration could be structured and sustained. This included the notion of interruptability, so that wearing headphones indicated that this was perhaps not the best time for chat and collaboration. A second point was on knowing who was in the space so that collaborations could be followed up in a more strategic way. Furthermore on the theme of who is in the space, questions were raised about the gendered nature of spaces and the ways in which people might feel comfortable in working there. A potential challenge/opening was raised around the ways in which co-working spaces could be used to retain talent and facilitate collaboration between games developers when development companies fold.

Suggestions to develop and build collaboration around co-working spaces include organising bespoke events and festivals, and providing links to support services, for example legal and writing funding bids.


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