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A Slice of DICE

AIAS president Joseph Olin talks about bringing the key conference to Singapore, and the challenges faced by the region

A few weeks ago the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced that it had partnered with LMI to produce a day of sessions at this year's Games Convention Asia.

Here, AIAS president Joseph Olin explains the Academy's background, and why bringing a slice of the DICE Summit to Singapore is a good thing. The DICE Summit is one of the key international stops on the calendar - but for anybody that's not aware of AIAS, summarise your aims.
Joseph Olin

Well the Academy was started... we're about to enter our sixteenth year. It was started by the IDSA [now known as the ESA], leading publishers and some of the development community as a means to provide peer-based recognition of our best talent and best work as a medium.

It might have been a little ahead of its time back in 1995, but at the same time the intention was that the other professional media all have an ability to separate great work from good work, and we should really celebrate the special talent that it takes to make great work.

The Interactive Achievement Awards were created specifically to do that - and along the way we've modified the Academy's charter to embrace the development community, and to really have that community be at the forefront of what we should be recognising and how we do so.

But the Academy first and foremost was designed to recognise our best talent, and I think that one of the ways that we do that - and one of the things that's become so difficult as our craft has become so complicated - was to try and give our best and brightest an opportunity to talk about the craft of game-making without necessarily being a nuts-and-bolts GDC approach about how to implement a new shader... but really more about where we're going, what do we enjoy, the nature of creativity, and to try and provide a forum to bring in outside influences that also depend upon creativity to be successful

And so when DICE was started in 2002 it was done as much because the academy was looking for a way to fund itself and remain independent, and at the same time we just felt that no one ever got together in a small group was able to share ideas.

DICE was smaller because I think no one was sure what to do - there weren't as many conferences or gatherings on the landscape, and I think that over the last seven years DICE has grown in stature as much because the people who attend have grown in stature, as the industry has grown in stature.

The medium is now legitimately one of the prime entertainment choices that any consumer can make today - am I going to turn on and watch something on Fox News, or am I going to plug in and continue online where I left off last night on my Burnout race?

Those things all provide the underlying currents for what we try to do. Along the way, during my stewardship, I've looked for other programmes and opportunities to bring game-makers together to share ideas and to try and, if not purely collaborate, then to spur each other in what's interesting, what trends we should be thinking about, and to allow people who are concentrating on doing MMO work to also be exposed to the casual games phenomenon, and people who are used to dealing with mass entertainment audiences - but do so in a different way.

I think that the success of the DICE conference has been the success of our ability to walk the line, the tightrope without a net, to try and gather some interesting people each year. I think if anything our safety in numbers approach this past year, where we had 33 different speakers, meant there was bound to be something for every different taste or interest - within the spectrum of interactive entertainment, and also the outside world.

When I look at how game-making - we all talk about it as a global phenomenon, and I think the creativity has been tied together on a global basis. So many of the US publishers were used to going to France, to England and somewhat Japan, to acquire original IP or development talent to create their titles for sale here in the States. We take that all for granted now, and there's no place you can go where there isn't a large level of collaboration on any given triple-A title.

Ubisoft is probably the best example, with its 17 studios across all points of the globe. Looking at the Continent, Crytek has certainly managed to put studios in a number of different places on the globe... Electronic Arts, Activision, they all have their outposts because that's the nature of where the talent has grown, and you need to have talent to really be successful today - at least as far as triple-A games go.

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