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  • How To Host An Online Gamedev Event On A Budget

    [06.11.20]
    - Colin Macdonald
  • Last month I ran an online two-hour conference with eight micro-talks, www.interface9.org. I'd no idea whether it would work, but to later receive comments like "This was hands down the best digital event I have ever attended. Great line up of speakers and the talks were brilliantly insightful" and "I think this is one of the best conferences I've attended. Hugely well pitched advice" particularly when they've come from respected industry figures is amazing. But to get them for your first online event makes them worth so much more, and whilst there was plenty went wrong, I wanted to share my experience in the hope of inspiring others to host similar events.

    As context, for the past couple of years I've run a series of local game developer events around Scotland - each set of events gets several hundred attendees, which attracts some famous names to travel up to Scotland specifically to speak at the events, which in turn makes them fun, interesting *and* useful events for the local gamedev communities. I don't have a lot of spare time, I'm not especially technical, and have to pay for anything myself so need costs to be kept minimal.

    Obviously with Covid-19, I don't know when I'll be able to run the events again, but it seemed the logical time to try an online event and raise a few quid for charity. If everyone hated it, no-one came, or we didn't raise any money then at least I'd tried.

    Setup

    The main decision was how to run the event itself, and most of my time went on figuring out what broadcast solution to use. I needed:

    - To broadcast somewhere public so that anyone could watch, and there would be no restrictions on the numbers.

    - To bring in guest speakers.

    - To have overlays so that I could constantly display the fundraising link.

    - It not be overly complex - because of lockdown I needed to be able to do absolutely everything myself - setting up the stream, swapping feeds between speakers, adding screen overlays, solving any technical problems, and of course, actually compering the event as well.

    - And given it was a free, fundraising event, that I'd be covering the costs of myself, the budget needed to be minimal.

    The broadcast solution I ended up going for was belive.tv which does have a free plan that would suffice for some events; although I subscribed to the standard plan for $30 which gave me additional functionality I wanted such as uploading pre-recorded videos, allow guest speakers to screenshare etc. Then I just setup a new YouTube channel (NB: it takes 24 hours approval for a YouTube channel to be able to live stream).

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