Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup
Change We Can Believe In

Matthew Sakey | 13 Oct 2009 11:50
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There's also the website, with its forums and columns, the organization's sponsorship of various events, its presence at conferences and more mainstream media activity. Oh yes, the IGDA does things. But aside from the GDC party, none of it is membership based. Everything offered now should be available to all, but the first step in reform is providing tangible services available to members only. Caulfield notes the organization is rolling out new services like targeted webinars; we'll see if the membership finds them helpful.

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I suspect IGDA members would most value genuine professional services, like legal guidance, a lifetime @igda.org email address, career placement and relocation assistance, conflict mediation, small studio spotlight opportunities and contract writing. But those services cost money, and that's why the IGDA has had difficulty offering them so far. As Adams says, it's the classic deadlock: "You need money to supply these services; you need members to provide the money; you need services to attract the members." At $48 for an individual annual membership, the Association can't possibly provide the wealth of solutions it should.

These services need not be free, however; simple subsidization through a member discount is enough. I suspect many developers would pay significantly higher dues for access to such tools. And as the value becomes apparent, membership would grow to the point that dues could come down. Think of how many small developers would spring at the chance for subsidized access to an attorney for contract or IP advice, or a trademark search. And while globalism is a factor (Japanese developers would have no interest in help from a French attorney), it need not eliminate the opportunity. The IGDA has a responsibility to maintain a network of contacts - lawyers, regional alliances for medical insurance, etc. - and can roll them out as they become viable, focusing on the most membership-heavy regions first.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

The model and perception of membership must also change for true reform to become a reality. Some in the association business argue that membership is a dying model, Della Rocca among them. "IGDA needs to think of a model that can succeed with the primary member as a free member," he says. "[A] 'freemium' model, or free membership plus paid services. Think free-to-play style games." That's a possibility, but personally, I see membership as an unrestricted revenue lifeline - provided members have exclusive and premium access to benefits.

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