Business of Games Summit cultivates entrepreneurial spirit in the gaming industry

Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship showcases career opportunities in the digital games and eSports industry

By Joel Shump
September 20, 2017

The first annual Business of Games Summit, hosted by Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the  Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, welcomed more than 700 students, faculty and local residents to learn about the industry of digital games on Thursday, September 14. The all-day experience, showcased the rapidly growing and innovative industry through industry executives, entrepreneurs, pro players, and gaming exhibitors.

Commonly known as a west-coast industry, the Business of Games Summit brought some of the brightest minds within the gaming world together. The event focused on the evolution of the gaming industry, how students can pursue career opportunities, and why Ohio University and the state could be the scene of new game businesses and careers. The day featured dynamic guest speakers, engaging panel discussions, and an interactive exhibit floor which highlighted the local gaming companies of OHIO alumni such as Lantern Light Studios, a game development group. Exhibitors showed off their latest games and technologies for visitors. The diverse range of attendees and speakers created for an exciting and motivated atmosphere in the Baker Center Ballroom.

“If students have any interest in gaming whether they play them, code them or watch them, there was something for everyone at this event,” said Paul Mass, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “We wanted to show them ways to get into and work in this industry.”

Chris Volpe, CEO of Multivarious Games and co-founder of the Ohio Game Developer Association welcomed attendees as the keynote speaker for the event. Volpe focused on the current state of the gaming industry in Ohio. Gaming is usually known for being developed where all the tech innovations are happening, but Volpe and his team are busy trying to bring some of that to the Midwest.

“We’re doing something that no one else in Ohio is doing,” said Volpe.

Volpe was followed by a panel titled “A Developer’s Roadmap” featuring game developers, company co-founders, and CEOs. The purpose of this panel was to discuss how to create, monetize, and publish digital games. The panel of speakers gave real-world advice on how to make your game idea a reality.

Panelists such as Austin “Shot” Lonsert, professional player out of the Arizona State University touched on the topic of digital games as a spectator sport. eSports has recently taken off in popularity with players and competitions hosted all over the world.

“Forty percent of people that watch gaming competitions do not actually play those games,” said Mass. “Even if you’re not developer or player, there are opportunities to innovate in these industries.

Daria Fluor-Scacchi, production manager at ILMxLAB also joined the lineup of speakers to discuss diversity and women in the digital game industry. Her interactive and informative discussion focused on why women are underrepresented as developers, publishers, and players.

The event also featured a case competition where students were given the opportunity to propose an eSports competition that would, ideally, coincide with the 2018 Business of the Games Summit. Students had numerous proposal ideas, however the winning idea featured  a tournament that would, in theory, act as tryouts for Ohio University’s first eSports team.

Joshua Hong, founder and general partner of Exponential,an LA-based venture capital fund, closed the day and empowered guests with his concluding  speech: “What it means to be an Entrepreneur in the Online Game Industry.” Hong is a long-time successful entrepreneur in digital games and is credited with bringing the “freemium” economic model to the digital game industry in the U.S.. After talking about his unconventional business beginnings, Hong gave fascinating insight into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, regardless of the industry you choose.

Why should you put the Business of Games Summit on your calendar for next year?

Whether you are a player, entrepreneur, or a business aficionado, the Business of the Games Summit had something for everyone. The range of speakers gave insight not only into the captivating industry, but also into what it takes to be successful. The energy of the event excited and educated attendees on how to break into the industry right here in Ohio and create a company. And if you truly do want to make that dream a reality, the Center for Entrepreneurship will help get you started.