"In the summer of 1994 I went to the CGDC board and asked them to let me create the CGDA as a department of the conference itself - an association within the business. I promised it wouldn't cost too much, and their response was, 'Fine - if you do all the work.' So I did. I recruited some people from the outside to be a board of directors, but remember at this point it had no formal existence. The first directors were me, Jon Freeman, Kevin Gliner, Dave Walker" - founder of the Computer Entertainment Developers Association, which Dave agreed to merge with the CGDA in its early years - "and Susan Lee-Merrow. Soon thereafter, Anne Westfall replaced Jon Freeman. I used the CGDC's mailing list to put out a call, and several hundred people signed up. We were off and running. In the spring of 1995, we spun off the CGDA as a fully-incorporated 501 (c) 6 nonprofit member-owned organization.
"My goals for the CGDA were always modeled on what I knew of the Association for Computing Machinery. Its primary function was, and is, to support the careers and interests of developers as individuals (not companies)," Adams says. At the IGDA's founding, he made it clear that the organization would not be a trade union, because labor issues were not at that time a primary or even secondary threat, and he knew game developers to be highly independent and entrepreneurial. "I wanted to do other kinds of things as well - support for people starting small businesses (insurance, mostly), continuing education and perhaps a journal. ... Again, all based on the ACM's model."
Wanted: Professional Cat Herder
Though the CGDA was under the auspices of the CGDC and therefore Miller Freeman/CMP (who had purchased the CGDC), it was its own organization and eventually required its own administrator. Previously, Jennifer Pahlka had managed the CGDA as its Executive Director; in 2000, the call went out for a director from the outside of the organization, specifically dedicated to the CGDA, now calling itself the IGDA.
Jason Della Rocca answered. "I've got the standard passionate gamer back story, from Pong and the Atari 2600, through the various generations of consoles and PC gaming, all the way to finishing BioShock last week." But his path to Executive Director of the primary game developer professional organization did not come directly through game development itself, but through another of the support industries - specifically, 3-D graphics technology.
"I was always good with numbers," he says. "So, I started off majoring in accounting at Concordia University (the big business oriented school in Montreal). But, after a summer internship doing auditing, I realized it was way too boring/lame and switched my major to IT.
"Like all hardcore gamers, I always had the dream of one day working in games. But since there was not much of a game industry in Montreal at the time ... I figured doing something internet oriented was the next best thing. So I taught myself HTML, etc. and devoured Wired magazine and eventually parlayed my way into a gig at Silicon Graphics (the Montreal satellite office) doing web and VRML graphics type work. It was fun. And I remember the day we got an N64 (which had an SGI chip powering the graphics), but it still wasn't games.
"My role at Matrox [in Developer Relations] was my first real foray into the game industry. I was attending all the big events - GDC, E3, etc. - working with developers, providing feedback on developments to DirectX."