Reprinted from the Independent Weekly
Triangle Game Conference

Marriott City Center-Save your jokes about “Pac-Man Fever.” Just as comic books have gained respectability as a form of literature and a popular entertainment, the video game industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade to include some of the most innovative and immersive forms of storytelling. In the last few years, games ranging from Braid to BioShock have boasted the kind of narrative complexity found in the best novels and films.

Now, the Triangle stands to take its place at the forefront of this movement with the first Triangle Game Conference, an exploration of the local game industry and where it’s headed. Taking place over two days, the conference promises to be an intense gathering for newcomers and industry veterans alike. With more than 40 local companies participating, the event explores why the Triangle has become a leading developer of game engines and instructional “serious games,” along with such bestsellers as the Gears of War series from Epic Games.

About 50 speakers and panels are spread across five tracks, with keynote addresses by Epic Games president Michael Capps and Atomic Games president Peter Tamte. Other major companies that will be represented include Virtual Heroes, Insomniac Games and Emergent Game Technologies.

The five tracks (Game Technology, Game Design & Production, Serious Games & Advanced Learning Technologies, Games & Media and The Business of Games) include panels on everything from advice to starting your own company to such philosophical discussions as “Physics for Game Programmers” and the less-philosophical Gears of War 2-themed “Reinventing the Chainsaw.”

Program Director Alex Marcis helped organize the event as part of the Triangle Game Initiative, a trade association designed to establish the Triangle as a major hub for the gaming industry. “It’s not super-well-known yet, but the Triangle is the game engine capital of the world,” Marcis says. “What makes the Triangle special as a hub is that this is really a home for innovation in entertainment. This is where the games get made, and where the technology that powers the games gets created.”

Marcis, who’s also president and CEO of Durham’s Themis Group, which publishes the award-winning online gaming magazine The Escapist, believes that the Triangle’s role in the industry puts it at the center of a major creative and technological movement. “I think games and interactive entertainment are going to be the most important medium of the 21st century,” Marcis says.

Tune in next week for our coverage of the conference’s highlights. For more information, visit –Zack Smith