Apart from plenary sessions at the beginning and end of the conference the concept as developed by the Institute included three parallel topic sections: “Market, Technology & Products”, “Use & Potential” as well as “Society & Policy”.
"Market, Technology & Products"
This section focused on the sectors of online and mobile games and their sub-sectors. German industry leaders, young companies such as Bigpoint and Gameforge, generate turnovers in a three-digit-million range and they are constantly searching for new employees. Current technological conditions theoretically enable many people to play games online, but in spite of high growth rates and respective turnover the industry is only just about to capture the actual mass market. Established companies will be able to raise the number of players, but also small developer studios and individual developers are provided excellent opportunities for their market entrance, e.g. through new platforms, business models and revenue structures. The development of markets in this area (and their reasons), old and new business models, backlashes on the traditional games industry and the differentiation of offerings were looked at in this section. Also the effects on present supply chains and changes in the structure of actors and their functions were thematised. In how far technology is able to support and hinder the development of the industry were subject for discussion.
"Use & Potential"
In this section of the conference, the focus was on usage, preferences and results on the players’ side as well as associated expectations, opportunities, challenges and risks. Factors, which influence the product choice and use of games, were named as well as current modes of use, preferences of genre, actual and potential community emergence and play times. This was accompanied by questions about excessive use of games. Game communities are very important for online games companies as a satisfied and respected game community is essential for such companies’ success. Community management therefore becomes much more significant: in the long rung only such providers will persist which manage to integrate communities as an important factor in their corporate strategy and balance players’ and the company’s interests. For the communities, some with thousands of players, modes of established representations of interests are required in order to bundle interests and delegate authorisation. At the conference different models of self-coordination of game communities were discussed. Further it became evident that along with the growth of the market and the number of providers also rises their responsibility, e.g. in the areas of protection of minors and data protection. Virtual worlds and online games in which gamers play and communicate with each other, undeniably also have positive effects: computer games can support social skills, for example. In tomorrow’s working environment therefore employees with gaming experience will be much appreciated in some industries.
"Society & Policy"
In the third section, social effects of an increasing use of online and mobile games were put into focus as well as the diverse linkage of virtual worlds and reality, for example on a psychological, social, economic and legal level. Also thematised were regulatory challenges, which result from game contents and forms, current technology, the compatibility of revenue models with consumer protection and changing roles of protagonists as well as social components of the products. The idea of a “magic circle” which pulls areas of a virtual world from reality and also separates them from a real world, cannot be held up anymore. As for the legal area, peculiarities of games have to be covered by regulation in the upcoming years, for example, forms of virtual property, insults in the context of the game world and respectively consideration of the game world’s context for legal decisions. Thereby traditional law may expect the industry’s support, e.g. through new forms of the “governance by social behavious”, rating systems and content flagging.
The programme and further information about speakers are available at www.gamesconvention.com.