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PixelPop Festival 2020
September 13, 2020, Online, USA
PixelPop Festival 2020
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PixelPop Festival 2020
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GROWING AN OPEN-SOURCE GAME COMMUNITY (AND THE GROWING PAINS) | PIXELPOP FESTIVAL 2020
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About the talk

In 2006, Jonathan started using an open-source programming language called Processing, little did he know, it would change his life. He fell in love with the ethos of open-source communities. In 2018, Jonathan launched the Blinks Game System, an open-source smart tabletop game system on Kickstarter now supported by more than 2500 backers.

Growing a community is much like gardening, and open-source requires an active and loving gardener. In this talk, Jonathan will share his experience founding Move38, growing a community, and building a product and company around open-source games.

About speaker

Jonathan Bobrow
CEO & Founder at Move38

Jonathan Bobrow is an award winning designer and technologist at the forefront of digital interfaces and hands-on play. He’s an alumnus of the MIT Media Lab Playful Systems group and UCLA Design | Media Arts, CEO and Founder of Move38, a new kind of game company. Move38 builds tools for creativity such as Blinks, a board game system with a mind of its own. Jonathan has successfully Kickstarted five products, raising over $400K on the platform, he is an avid maker, lifelong baseball player, air-guitar veteran, and recently TEDx thought leader on how play shapes the way we think.

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Hi, I'm Mary McKenzie, the games and Community director of Hacksaw. Pop Festival. I'm so happy to introduce his next question, growing an open-source games community and the growing pains by John Bobby Brown. In 2018. John launched the blanks game system and open source that smart tabletop game system on Kickstarter. And it's not supported by more than 2,500 Packers and the stock has experienced found a growing a community and building a product and Company around open-source games.

My name is John bobrow and I'm CEO and founder of move 38 or an open source, of course, going to talk about some of the growing pains as well. I'm also going to be using this terrible analogy of these days, relate to. I hope you all enjoy this, and let's get started. Before I really get started, you should know a little bit about me in this case, the garden, as I mentioned, before I founded this company, I used to build interactive Museum, installations and

software to make these large-scale interactive installations or sometimes massively multiplayer game. Here's one from the Museum of Science and Industry where we projection map and you got to design your future car is really quite amazing. As I sounded move, 38, we developed our Flagship product world's first smart tabletop game system called, open-source game system. So, how did I get interested or involved in the idea of Open Source? Started when I was at

UCLA in 2006 and introduced to a programming language called processing, Casey reset the time had created this language. She was one of the co-creators and the design of the programming language was to feel like for an artist with coat. So you could write these four lines of code and have a application drawing. Really cool. Graphics on screen. A number of other software creative coding software languages, including Hardware has probably never heard of the open-source,

the programming language and end up here as an example of a field open source software. And the thing about it the most was that there wasn't a community behind behind but we have difficulty Community or supporting we weren't really set up for it. And as I mentioned here, open source projects, they really thrive on an active supporting community. So I also noticed, there's sometimes even adopted by the community's p5.js. Is a really beautiful example of an extension of processing.

It took the same framework of processing and adapted it for JavaScript, which felt in all honesty and checking out. So in reality here, so what was this? What's the speed of an open-source community? And so for me I give a little bit of my tools for creativity and I invested a lot of time and resources into making an easy to a program for platform. And so while I was there, one of the best things I did was I took the work, I was working on and I shared it openly and freely. So

I was building these little interactive hexagonal tiles, that look like this and they communicate with each other and sharing it at a game designer, by the name of Celia Pierce and also a game professor at Northeastern. I saw them and said, would you mind if I brought them over to your lab? And we could try and make some juice on these meats? And so I said, yes, and I said, I think we could make a game and maybe 3 hours set aside some time and I will try to do something. And so

there's actually a photo from that day where we boarded for an hour and then we programmed for an hour and another hour. We spent play testing, and we created the very first game for the blanks game system that experience was really enlightening for me. I need a lot of attention to what the people who were there were doing, while using the tools I had built and thinking about, how could it be easy for them to create freely? I feel like one of the most important things for any creative industry. And so I felt it

a tool that I would want to use. Might be also with two of the others who want to use, and if I observe others using it, I can make it better. And so I continue to do that. I hosted more and more game Jam. In this case. I point out, some people say, if you build it, they will come. I learned as an RN UCLA years ago that if you bring food, they will come. So if you're hosting game jams and looking for people to show up provide food, it's a good way to get people there. So this was, this was the

seed of something. I didn't really quite know what it was yet, but I take away from what others, the way others are reacting and what they're responding to. And if you can provide and expand on that. Seems to create for people showing up over and over again. So once we've planted the seed about the Exquisite already prepared for you and so in my this fertile Garden is Kickstarter raised over a billion dollars for the indie game industry. The platform enables move38 to bring are open source game platform to life having it funded by the

community that was interested in supporting. The neatest thing about this. Is that about 2 and 1/2 years ago. On the kickstarter platform raising over $137,000 to bring it to life. But more importantly we had a thousand people show up and pledging more than a quarter of them bought developer kits. And so I have to say it's pretty difficult to find on Kickstarter and I think that's really an amazing platform for that. One thing that I would say, so learning objectives. One of the growing pains is when a thousand people show up for something.

There's surely going to be concerned that you may not have thought of and open communication is so important. Essay. The kickstarter backers are kind of a mixed bag. Everybody has really good attention. You can really be caught off-guard by some comments that a little bit concerned about how much you're charging for a product, the word structure, or why a stretch goal is, is that a certain way? And so, my The learning there. I would say is always stay positive.

The internet is not to be in 2020. So give people the benefit of the doubt. And so really work. Well for helping grow move, 38th Community positive about things that are expensive at all. And in fact, you should draw the line quickly. Let's talk about the toolshed. We just talked about Kickstarter, money is in fact, a tool. It's really important to be able to support what you do and make it sustainable. There's lots of ways to do that. And this is not the only option. It just happened to be a very powerful tool for supporting our open-source Hardware. The

community is also, it's cool. So make sure. I think Kickstarter the best thing about it is the community that it brings to you. That I wanted to Champion, here is one that I really appreciated, which is we built a forum using discourse. And I think that there's a caveat you can get away with tools. But ultimately using them for how, how well they're helping you achieve a goal. And so as our community, as we shift, our developer kits from our Kickstarter, we launched within asleep. Probably a

Discord server with a discourse forum. And I found this to be a very user-friendly place for people to quickly access knowledge and communicate with each other and it's really cool. I mean, people are welcoming each other and starting to do the work that I think one of the nice things about starting any Community open source community. You know, if you if you kind of provide the resources up front and make it easy for people to contribute, they end up doing some of the work for you. Introduce each other. They welcomed each other

and they help each other out. So, Not to be confused with Discord. I'm honestly really new to Discord, but I know that the games Community has really just attracted to you this platform and it's been really quite special to participate in its for pixelpop and I'm excited to interact with you on the platform. One of the neat things from our forum is that our community has been bringing this up recently. Is it be nice if we had a quicker way to communicate with each other.

So, one of the things that's learning moment, sometimes it's just a matter of enabling and letting them have build in the place that they want to go. And so that leaves me to the perfect next thing, which is, if he talked about letting the community, kind of take it where they want to take it to all sorts of wonderful things, but it can also lead to some pretty bad things. And there are unintended consequences of that. So, being a social media, and it's pretty, if you, if you don't

regulate something, if you're not paying attention. That's surely have unintended consequences. Tabor City and vermouth 38. Something really important about our platform is that we want it to be open and accessible and safe to a wide community. Throwing up for me the kinds of tech toys and tools and games were heavily marketed to boys and it's just, I mean, besides being outdated. It's just not a good road forward. And so we've I wanted to bring the stuff because this is

embarrassing fly, but I'm not sure if you can see it but this is distance from our Kickstarter visitors and I believe we had tens of thousands of visitors to the kickstarter page and of those visitors 72% were male. And this was something that was driven partially by kickstarter's existing audience, partially by the category, but the reason why I bring it up, if you'd leave the sun check, your community will We'll stay in kind of the status quo. You'll end up. Stuck in what? What already is. And I think one of the

neatest things about the Indians game Community is that we recognize that has come in all shapes and sizes. And that everybody plays games and there are so many Amazing Stories. And so, I think the best way to achieve that is for communities to have representation. And that's something that moves, not only having representation on our own internal team and the wavy higher. But because we publish games. We also a very mindful of trying to have an even split

getting different age groups, genders races represented on the platform and Publishing games. And honestly requires an active effort, this is something that we honestly talked a lot about internally and I think there's a little bit of discomfort about the active aspect of it. But I think it's really important that if you don't want the status quo, you really have to actively nudge and purposefully nudge. In a direction, you want to see things headed and being open is simply not enough. So I think open source communities. While open is a really great

property. I think that welcoming and respectful. These are all things that I think the east coast and should be part of it as well. Definitely helps the community grow and I think a healthy way. And so the last thing that I want to talk about before I open up for a Q&A, which is the Harvest, I often forget to look at all of the amazing things that come out of an open-source community. And so actually preparing this presentation gave me a moment to reflect on

some of the wonderful unexpected things that come from an open-source community. And so I'm just going to share a couple in our Forum. Some of the things that totally caught me off guard. And this just felt on point. Lynx has a game system. It's a smart tabletop game system. And the pieces respond to touch. They communicate with each other. And this, for a member made a game called Terraria. It's not even really a game. And in fact, you have different links to different elements. One is the Sun, and another is water and drifts and there's gravity.

And one is soil and soil has water and Sun. Sure. And ask you start to have things Sprout. And so we got to see the whole process has this project bro. On the floor is really, really quite beautiful. The other thing that I thought was really started to work together remotely and on the Forum and make this amazing game art and published James. Some of these are remixes of games and so by being open source with the 12 games that we published initially, people could open up those games and say, I'm going to ask that and it's not

just the code to the hardware. Source. The assets are open source. So any piece of this is I think it's really important to let people and you can pick and choose important to make sure you're comfortable. Sharing what you're sharing, what we can, this is just once again, kind of the hardest year. The neatest thing about this is when I started links and first kick-started it, we only had two games on the dump. At this point. There's over 25 ugliest and dozens and dozens more in the Forum, new

ones, popping up daily. And its really, really, you know, I think just pretty magical to open something up and create a game system. That is Really driven by a community that wants to create new experiences, so I'm going to open it up for you, and I and I hope that this at least provided what it looks like to start an open source gaming company. Thanks so much, and I'm looking forward to joining you on the Discord. So I definitely check us out at move. 38. Calm, and thanks again, pixel. Pop Festival. Thank you so much, John, and

thank you so much for tuning in. Be sure to head over to our pics of Pop Festival. Discord server at Discord. GG / pxp, to continue the conversation and participate in the live Q&A and discussions happening in our Q&A, breakout rooms. Stay tuned for our next batch of future games, including fluffy. Nice, the forest Cathedral and even in Arcadia.

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