Photo Courtesy of ea.com

Sim City

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A

For the uninitiated, the series of commands above is indecipherable nonsense, but it’s immediately recognizable to gamers as the renowned “Konami Code,” the sequence of buttons one can hit during the title screen of video games like Contra to gain extra lives. It’s also a nod to the idea that games are thoughtfully designed, not merely pulled from the ether, a wink from Konami programmers to their peers and diehard gamers alike.

The Ohio Game Developer Expo, holding its second annual event this month, was founded for people who enjoy the experience on either side of the console, but it has ambitions beyond just entertainment – namely, promoting Columbus as the next hotspot in the video game development industry.

said Chris Volpe, president and cofounder of the Ohio Game Developer Association. “But at the same time we want to be providing workshops and opportunities and networking events for people who really want to be involved in the industry or start developing their own games.”

Last year Volpe and his colleagues started OGDE hoping to lure 50 people. It eventually attracted multiple sponsors, over 30 exhibitors, and more than 750 attendees. This year’s version boasts more than six times the physical space, and Volpe hopes to welcome at least 2,000 guests for the three-day event, which will feature a speaker series, presentations, workshops, and game tournaments.

Columbus is not currently home to many video game companies or industry jobs, and Volpe said that students who graduate with degrees in the game-development field are often forced to leave for California, Texas, Atlanta, or Montreal. But he would like to change that. He feels that Columbus is the perfect city to become a new epicenter, with its large educated population, artistic and entrepreneurial leanings, and considerable tech infrastructure.

“We love undertaking creative projects and endeavors, and we’re super good at sort of working together locally to support each other,” said Volpe, also the CEO of Multivarious Games, one of the few local developers.

The Rapid-Fire Pitch Competition is one of the ways that he hopes to bridge the gap between those inside the industry and those seeking to get in the game. It challenges people to present their best video game ideas to a panel of experts in just a few minutes through the use of concept art, a story, or a prototype. Participants will receive constructive criticism, and the champion will win game-development software from Unity Pro, in addition to other awards for Best in Show and Most Creative New Idea.

While we aren’t gaming industry experts at (614), we thought we’d prime the pump by tossing out a few Columbus-centric ideas…

Arch City Empire

Enter the fray of the Columbus nightlife scene by opening your own chain of bars, restaurants, and clubs. Will you attempt to gain a foothold in the crowded Short North or stake out an emerging district? Will you serve specialty cocktails to connoisseurs in fedoras and vests or pitchers of Natty Light to college bros in gym shorts? Did the bouncer at your ultra hip club just take a swing at LeBron after an Ohio State game? Life’s a wild ride when your profession is partying. It’s like that lemonade stand computer game, but, you know, with whiskey and brawling.

The Golden Spike

Step into the mayor’s shoes as he attempts to get a citywide train system up and running. Host events to rally public support, make deals with city council, and woo/coerce titans of industry with elaborate parties/scandalous blackmail. (Are you a Good Mayor Coleman or a Bad Mayor Coleman?) Once you’ve gathered the support you need, hammer the magical Golden Spike to finish the project before the evil Governorlord Kasich swoops in to ruin everything with his lobbyist minions and all-powerful red tape. A fun and engrossing look behind the scenes at local politics; takes 25 years to beat the game.

Goose Gunner

It’s the year 2053, and the city is still waging its 40-year war against Canada geese. (If this is what we’re actually supposed to call them now, can we start referring to Canadians as “Canada people?”) Before Columbus is completely overrun with honking and disease and bird shit, eliminate the flying pests by patrolling the banks of the Olentangy River in a golf cart shooting laser rifles, or navigating the Santa Maria up the river to fire laser cannons, or casting laser nets over a whole flock from the Goodyear BlimpDrone. It’s basically Duck Hunt, but more satisfying, because geese are literally the worst.

The Ohio Game Developer Expo will be held October 24-26 at COSI. The application for the Rapid-Fire Pitch Competition will be posted on October 1 to www.ohiogamedevexpo.com, which is also where attendees can purchase event tickets.

Welcome to [Virtual] Thunderdome

Columbus is finally getting another major league pro arena, and it’s possible that LeBron and Kevin Durant could square off there, but it’s not quite what Mayor Coleman and thousands of NBA fans had hoped. The battle would only be virtual – in NBA 2K15 or some other iteration of EA Sports’ popular series – as the venue is the MLG.tv Columbus Arena, home to Major League Gaming and just the second stadium dedicated to video game tournaments in the country.

MLG will host its first event October 24-26 – which coincides with the Ohio Game Developer Expo but is unrelated – a Call of Duty: Ghosts tournament that will award $75,000 in prizes. MLG Arena will feature bleacher seating for hundreds of spectators, soundproof booths for competitors, and live commentary in its 14,000-square-foot space near the airport in the former Kingdom of Bounce, which already resembled a video game world. It will host live events year-round and will broadcast programming and tournaments on MLG.tv.

Sundance Giovanni, MLG’s CEO and possibly a video game character himself, referred to the local facility as the company’s “flagship venue,” with MLG Stadium in China scheduled for a 2017 ribbon-cutting. 

For more information about Major League Gaming and the MLG.tv Columbus Arena, or to purchase tickets for the upcoming tournament, visit www.majorleaguegaming.com.

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