Games for Change Meetup Spotlight: Italy

Games for Change Italy Meetup Organizer Ivan Venturi introducing the crowd to “special” games
Fasten your seat belts, we are landing in Bologna, Italy!  A recent party and Games for Change Meetup in Italy brought together some of country’s most engaged app developers, universities, those working in the public sector, and “special’ games creators (Italians prefer to use the word “special”, as the term “serious” is too similar to their word “serioso”, which has a negative connotation.)

We spoke to Ivan Venturi of TiconBlu, a game design company that specializes in safe driving simulations and other “special” games, to learn more about the “Svilup Party” that took place in Bologna, Italy on March 10-11.

A packed audience at Cineteca di Bologna
Ivan is a true veteran of the Italian gaming scene, starting one of Italy’s first studios, Simulmondo, in 1987. Since the early 1990s, Ivan has been exploring the world of educational and “special” games. Ever since attending the Games for Change Festival in New York City last year, Ivan wanted to see how he can bring what he saw back to Italy. It was his hope to share his insights with other game developers and let them know that there were opportunities for independent game design studios to create different kinds of games. “I always say to them, ‘don’t create video games with starships and goblins every time!’ – You will find yourself in a very filled market. It’s not easy to explain that there is ‘another world’ out there.”

To combat the fact that there is almost a nonexistent “special” games community in Italy, Ivan hosted a Games for Change Meetup at the Cineteca di Bologna, a beautiful cultural center in a historical district of the city. To begin laying the groundwork for a community, Ivan used his 25 years of professional experience and network to bring together other independent game developers, technology specialists, innovative educators, local government, and the other few “special” games creators he could find. This Meetup drew in over 250+ attendees.

Over the course of two days, Ivan and the other presenters worked together to begin establishing a system, and solidify what an Italian “special” games community would look like. He knew that to gain any traction, he would need to do creative match making so multiple stakeholders could collaborate to produce quality work. One of the main goals of the Meetup was to bring together three separate universities with a particular interest in games and allow them to not only meet with game developers, but with experts in the specific markets their “special” games would serve.

Students from Politecnico di Milano after showcasing their “special” games
While Ivan was pleased with the turnout, he noticed that the most positive responses came not from the game design community, but from the governments and universities in attendance. Moving forward, he hopes he can win over the hearts of his fellow game developers and demonstrate that growing their “special” games scene will allow for better social, technical, and economical advances in Italy. Although, Ivan understands that “special” games have the power to create significant social impact, he hopes he can sway other developers to appreciate the economic opportunities as well.

With the lack of a strong commercial video game scene that produces AAA titles, it’s quite hard for Italians to find the budget to work on titles of that caliber. However, Ivan understands that there is a strong economic parallel between the production costs of a “special” game and that of a traditional indie game. Using this understanding and desire to create a bigger “special” games community in Italy, Ivan Venturi remains hopeful.

“I think we can make it. I’m not only a video game producer, I’m a dreamer too!

So only time will tell!”

Ivan’s Top Three Tips for a successful Games for Change Meetup:

1. Project an image of your Meetup as something that would be interesting to anyone. Don’t focus too much on marketing it with “specific lexicon”, instead talk about it in a way that uses common language. Try not to promote your event solely to game designers or education professionals.

2. Think of your Meetup as an occasion to have unique sets of people meet, not just as a venue for people to talk about their projects to a wide audience. Ivan suggests envisioning your Meetup as a party, a social event. Instead of thinking “here is some interesting work to show everyone”, say “everyone, enjoy the party and have fun!”

3. Be mindful of what projects and content you’re curating. With that in mind, you have the opportunity of pairing up presenters and attendees in ways that will be beneficial for both parties. Your Meetup might have game designers, academics, local government officials and more. How can you leverage what you know about your audience to make strong connections for them?


Learn more about Ivan’s company, TiconBlu, here:

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