I’m writing this at Singapore’s Marina Mandarin Hotel, where the State of Play V conference has just finished. In all aspects the conference managed to exceeded my high expectations. There were several interesting panels with some new and suprising speakers, new ideas and even some critical analysis. I got to meet many people whom I’ve previously known only virtually, and make lots of great new acquaintances. The conference organising was top quality and the food perhaps the best of any conference I’ve been to.
Personally, I was thrilled that the conference was held in Singapore. It’s my first time to the island country since 2004, when I finished a one-year IT law course at the National University of Singapore. Even my professor from that time, Daniel Seng, was in attendance. But before the conference, lots of people were asking, “why Singapore?”
One of the main themes of the conference was connecting East and West, and Singapore is not a bad location geographically. HiPiHi had a strong presence but I didn’t see anyone from the Chinese or Korean MMOG giants. There were some interesting non-industry people (including judge Unggi Yoon from Korea and professor Hiroshi Yamaguchi from Japan) and a bunch of Westerners with one leg in East Asia (Ken Brady, Guntram Graef, Alexander Markowetz and myself). Singaporeans were strongly represented. I think it’s a good start and I was happy to hear organiser Aaron Delwiche describe this as the beginning of a long engagement as opposed to a hit-and-run operation.
It also turns out that the Singapore government is investing in virtual worlds, both in terms of encouraging game companies to set up camp in Singapore as well as buying land in Second Life and trying to figure out if something useful could be done with it. Representatives from the Infocomm Development Authority and other agencies seemed to know reasonably well what they are doing. In a panel on regulation, Charles Lim Aeng Cheng from the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ law reform division left a particularly good impression by actively bringing into discussion challenging topics like dealing with adult content.
I’ll write another post soon about some takeaways from the conference. Meanwhile, check out Thomas Malaby’s post on discussions regarding brands in the first panel.