Skip to main content

Preview: DICE Summit 2010

AIAS president Joseph Olin on this year's Vegas line-up

Next month sees the first big videogames business conference of the year, with the hugely influential DICE Summit taking place in Las Vegas - among the keynote speakers this year is Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

To find out more about the themes and thinking behind the conference, we spoke with Jospeh Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. We'll be covering the event as it happens, and if you're headed there too make sure you add it to your attendance list. What are the aims of the DICE Summit, for anybody that's not familiar with it?
Joseph Olin

DICE was created nine years ago to serve two purposes - one was to provide a forum for the leadership of the game creative and business communities to be able to talk about the issues that affect their chosen careers in a quiet, non-competitive environment... similar to what the original GDC was 20-plus years ago when it was in Chris Crawford's living room, or a single, small room at the Fairmont Hotel.

I think that creative people always want the ability to dial up with each other, and obviously the act of creating a game is no longer a small team of four or five blokes, it peaks at 160 and above, with 24-36 months of commitment.

It changes how you approach the craft, but I think at the same time as a creative person you inherently seek out other creative people to solve problems and share ideas. I think at the core, that's what DICE is all about. It's the first of the major games conferences of the year - how have you worked some of the issues from the past year into the session line-up?
Joseph Olin

I think that the one thing I was very mindful of was not so much the changing market place from the perspective that commercially a lot of titles, a lot of publishers had rough years. It was more from the perspective of looking at what consumers are doing, and how they view interactive entertainment - and to try and find game-makers that were willing to talk about some of these different aspects.

I think, now that I have the complete line-up in front of me, it wasn't necessarily by original design - but I was looking for people who could do three things. One was to talk about the struggle and importance of creating original intellectual property and new ideas. I was looking for people who, as leaders of the publishing enterprises, could share their insights into what's happening within the world of consumer demand, and where things are heading. And from the creative perspective I also wanted to try and get some of the people who are doing interesting things to get up on stage and share their thoughts.

One of the first people I reached out to was my friend Brian Reynolds, the chief creative director at Zynga. He's really a hall of fame-calibre traditional game-maker, going back to the beginnings of Firaxis with Sid Meier, and he's got a long legacy of very successful core games. Calling him up, I said: "Okay, you have to explain this..."

He asked me if I'd been on their site, and I explained that I'd refused to get involved in any of it... that I'd de-friended people who sent me Mafia Wars invitations. He replied saying that if I didn't play one of his games, he didn't know if he'd want to speak

So I've joined Mafia Wars, and completely discovered why it's a time sink. Like everything else, once you start bragging with your friends, the one-upmanship... it's a downward spiral from there.

Related topics