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Talking with Simon Carless, Part 1

Talking with Simon Carless, Part 1 (photo)

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Simon Carless has a monopoly on dream jobs. As Global Brand Director at UBM Techweb’s Game Network, the British expat heads up the games business’ most respected trade magazine (Game Developer) and website (Gamasutra), along with being chairman emeritus of the Independent Games Festival. On top of all that, Carless oversees five branches of the Game Developers Conference–the main one in San Francisco and its Austin, Canada, China and Germany satellites. GDC’s going through some changes, with the Austin event being re-named GDC Online to reflect a new focus. As the conference approaches its 25th anniversary, I spoke with Carless about his history in the games business and the ways that new trends are re-shaping development.

So, how about we talk about your personal history in the games business? I know you’ve been with GDC and the parent companies for a little while now, but what about you and games in general? When did that start?

Well, a long time ago I used to be in the demoscene. Do you know what the demoscene is?

Yes. I do know that.

I was around in the Amiga demoscene in the ’80s and ’90s, actually as a musician. But, then I ended up getting into video game design when I graduated from the university. So I worked for studios as designer and a lead designer in the UK and then in the states. And I moved out to the states in ’99.

Since then I’ve worked on some other stuff. I really enjoyed working on the development side of the industry, but I actually ended up making my way through a series of serendipities into the media side of things.

I’ve been writing for Gamasutra since 1998. I really believe that it’s great when people make awesome games, but half the issue nowadays is more that, you actually need ways for people to find out about interesting products or interesting games. It’s really in the curation of information about video games and the business of making video games that, perhaps, there seem to be a lot of opportunities. That’s really what we tend to do at GDC and Gamasutra and Game Developer Magazine, and so on.

One of the things that’s coming up in 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the GDC event. Can you talk about what you’ve seen personally as significant changes in GDC? Like certain things that may have been a focus before that are non-existent now ?

Yeah, I mean obviously, GDC started 25 years ago, it was CGDC until like the late ’90s. It was Computer Game Developers Conference. So, that was certainly one thing that’s changed. Consoles came along and changed things for a lot of people. Obviously consoles were around like 25 years ago. But there came a point where the show became much more console-oriented. I think it still is. We often have keynotes from hardware companies in this space.

But we also recognize the rise of all-purpose computing, whether it be on the iPad, or simply web browser gaming, or even social network gaming. I personally still believe that there is still room for machines that simply game, but often nowadays you’re seeing either other game machines getting into other parts of media and app distribution or the other way around, computers or devices that have a bunch of apps on them, also, which also have games.

So I think that’s kind of a major hardware change for us over time. As far as other stuff, I think we’ve always been committed to highlighting people who make really meaningful and memorable projects, and that’s why we’ve had as keynotes from folks like Sid Meyer, Hideo Kojima, and people like that. And I think that’s something we’re going to continue with. We actually think it’s really important that we highlight not only what’s going on in the business of games, but what is going on in the art of games. Games as an art form is incredibly important. And there are not many opportunities for its creators to get up on stage and say meaningful things. So that’s something that we think we do well for a long time now.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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