FanTrust picks for GDC 2008

FanTrust picks for GDC 2008

FanTrust is hitting the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco – the world’s largest professionals-only game industry event. Hope to see you there!

FanTrust’s “Top 3” GDC picks:

Early Stage Funding for Gaming Start Ups

Why: Entertainment media companies are witnessing a boom in VC funding opportunities– for both content and technology. Media and entertainment firms have experienced strong financing gains across the spectrum – seed, early-stage and expansion stage. The sector saw one-year VC dollar gains of 60% from 2005 to 2006, and new funds are cropping up regularly.

Angel investors, individuals who tend to take smaller stakes in early-stage companies, are also growing more organized. Since 2002, the amount that angels have invested has grown by three times that of VC firms’ growth.

Despite an influx of available financing, competition is fierce and the bar is set high. In his GDC session, Matthew Le Merle, CEO of VC firm Gameplay Holdings and co-president the world’s largest angel investor network will address the strategies and collaterals that independent developers and gaming start-ups need to include in their investment pitches in order to capture the attention, imagination and dollars of early stage funders.

We’re hoping he’ll discuss: and its until-recently anonymous founder raised a rallying-cry amongst startups frustrated by their dealings with funders – simultaneously raising the ire of many VC firms who felt they were misrepresented.

We’d love to hear Le Merle’s take on; and to get his thoughts on the proper understanding, expectations and attitude both sides must hold in order to keep the honeymoon alive in the funder/start-up relationship.

Date/ Location: Wednesday (February 20, 2008) 9:00am-10:00am, Room 2018, West Hall

Self-Censoring Potential Content Risks for Global Audiences: Why, How and When

Why: In a recent FanTrust blog, I discussed the differences between teenaged digital media audiences in China and North America, and how a digital entertainment strategy for China must go beyond simple translation and subtitling. The blog focused on participatory culture – the differences in how North American and Chinese audiences engaged with entertainment properties, and one another, online. But companies looking to export their entertainment properties to China must also consider the political landscape and broader cultural contexts.

Tom Edwards, Principal Consultant of Washington-based Englobe Inc. and former Senior Geopolitical Strategist at Microsoft, will educate attendees on how to avoid a revenue and image backlash by localizing games for global markets, using real-world case studies.

We’re hoping he’ll discuss: How to successfully develop and execute a content risk assessment for multiplatform properties.

Date/Location: Thursday (February 21, 2008), 12:00-1:00pm, Room 2002, West Hall

How Wikipedia is Like a Multiplayer Game

Why: The most exciting – and successful – multiplatform properties that FanTrust clients finance and build all share one common trait – multiplayer gameplay (think “The Lost Experience” or “Regenesis”).

“There’s no such thing as a puzzle that’s too hard” when audiences work together, explains Thomas Wallner, Xenophile President and Regenesis creator. The more difficult the puzzle, the greater the sense of audience satisfaction and fan loyalty when the clues are finally solved.

GDC session presenter Elonka Dunin exemplifies this phenomenon. By day, she is General Manager of Online Community with MMOG developer Simutronics Corp. By night, she’s a CIA code-breaker, coordinating tens of thousands of visitors to her personal website,, to research and solve the CIA’s mysterious Kryptos sculpture and other “famous unsolved codes.”

We’re hoping she’ll discuss: What makes Wikipedia so addictive to its core community, whether hackers and code breakers view their activities as gameplay – and what lessons and strategies game development companies can apply to ensure fanatic participation and audience co-participation.

Date/Location: Friday (February 22, 2008), 2:50-3:10pm; Room 2004, West Hall