We all know about the Indie community and what can be created through it. Many games have come out of small studios or a few developers who just had a passion for what they do. So, in turn, Greece has its share of developers. But what happens when a group like GDA (Game Development Association of Greece) decides to do a collective action around it? Especially in the early stages of game development, and especially in a country that hardly supports game development, problems arise and a lot of expertise is missing. In Greece though, an association has now been created which supports Video Game Design.
Let’s analyze a bit more what this means and what the president of the association himself told us in this interview:
Let’s start with the basics: What is GDA?
As you will see on the club’s webpage the description is as follows: “The Digital Game Creators Association is a collective action initiative for the progress and evolution of the game development industry in Greece. Although there are several professional game devs in Greece, and even more amateurs, as well as Greek game devs abroad, collective efforts in recent years, have been minimal, and the Association comes to fill this gap.”
Therefore, GDA aims to support video game development in Greece through professionals in the field. We all know that in order for us to enjoy our new games, some people have worked very hard behind the scenes. By looking a little bit at their page you will see that it is a way for game developers to learn, to meet other developers, but also to participate in the activities of the association in order to grow more.
GDA: A very beautiful collective movement
So I had the chance to talk to the president of GDA, Vassilis Karavasilis, who analyzed many things about Video Game Development in Greece and especially all the things that concern us around this topic. Let’s look at some of the questions that were asked:
BGeek: How did GDA get started?
Vassilis: There has been a community for many years in Greece. But there has never been any representation. Many small efforts were happening with very few events and no organization. The best thing that had happened was the Athens Game Festival. But that was run by the government at the time. Obviously, when the government changed, that stopped too. Since we can’t depend on any government, we had started some discussions about that and we were setting up the association in 2018.
BGeek: What difficulties did you face along the way?
Vassilis: The first difficulty was communication. We are initially people with very different backgrounds and occupations. Then we have a very big dissimilarity as a country. Game development doesn’t even exist as a core feature, with many companies doing other things to make a living rather than making games. It took us a long time to understand the needs of this whole [project] to represent it. Then the bureaucracy came up. We’ve been officially active since December 2021 when the first elections were held. There are 7 people on the board right now, each with different jobs. In these 9 months already a lot of things have been done and we are planning a lot more.
BGeek: What do you seek for the future?
Vassilis: In the near future we have the Census from the individuals that develop in Greece and the results of that. Sort of like mapping. It is very useful information on how we will evolve and how many people are interested in development. The international exhibitions are also important and we follow them. Next year we aim for 2-3 exhibitions, a conference definitely and a trade show ideally. We are also preparing a conference in Athens.
The Census can be found here.
From next September we are organizing live meet-ups so that developers can get to know each other in person. Developers will be getting in touch with each other and playing their games and feedback will be given on it.
Our goal is to reach 100 members. The more people we have, the stronger the group and what it is about.”
BGeek: What can a developer get from GDA?
Vassilis: One thing that is clear in the association is that we are not operating in a Quid Pro Quo situation. The association has a basic registration fee, but we are nevertheless making moves to support the whole industry regardless of our membership. Obviously, we don’t just represent members who have signed up but anyone who wants to do developing in the Greece. We want a better Industry.
All the small activities we organize come out of our Discord Server where professionals from all over the world regularly come and talk about design, production marketing, sound design and much more depending on who comes.
We are looking for funding, talking to ministries, and generally trying to support the developers to create the whole infrastructure for the industry to take off. As I said before we have started public relations outside Greece and already have some partnerships with publishers of AAA titles.
Finally, we have been in contact with many other associations and organizations from other countries. So we communicate about the know-how that we have and lack, and we try to build things through that as well. Now we are trying to become members of the European Game Developer Federation (EGDF) so we can talk to the European association.
BGeek: On the association’s website there is the Mentorship program. Tell us a few words about it.
Vassilis: Mentorship is the biggest project that we have. The idea is that it’s done in quarters, in which some developers come either completely inexperienced, or more organized with studios and so on, and ask for help with whatever they have an issue with. There we assign a mentor for the quarter and they get personalized guidance on their own problems from an expert. So they solve their problems by transferring their expertise to help them. This is the only thing that is exclusive to the members of the association.
BGeek: How do you see the Indie part of the gaming in general?
Vassilis: Look, one of the mistakes a developer can make is not taking advice. As they say, you can make a game solo -but you shouldn’t make a game alone. It’s no coincidence that the most successful industries were made in teams that worked together and didn’t fight with each other. Competition as “competition” does not exist in development. Together we know more things than any one person knows individually, and we want to combine the expertise and contact of all developers to make something stronger.
BGeek: Do you have some additional thoughts on what we discussed?
Vassilis: We have a Steam Creator group where we do informational reviews for all games made in Greece by Greeks. If someone wants to buy and play Greek games they can go there to check them all.
I am very happy that people are involved in developing and want to help without wanting something back. There are a lot of people who say “How can I help?” Also many active are Greeks from abroad who say “Let’s go help”, “I know him too” and so on. Which is awesome to have people just helping.”
BGeek: Thank you very much for the beautiful conversation!
Vassilis: The club is for everyone and will remain for everyone and it is up to all of us to make the community better. People who are involved in all disciplines and can help, it’s like a Call to Arms! We have open discord to help. Let’s see where we can take the industry in Greece! “
It’s really, really nice that there are people who are passionate about video game design and how they are supporting the younger people in the industry. Looking at the club’s page it’s really a minimum of 30 euros to join it given all the things mentioned above. I must point out that reading the statutes it is stated that the board members are not paid, it shows evidence that they do it because they like it.
Especially in a country that is not doing very well with this, it is very gratifying to have collective movements that support the community.