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About Drew Sikora – Computer Game Development: The IGDA NJ Chapter

The NJ chapter was Drew’s main springboard into the game development industry. Despite the contacts he was making online with developers around the world, given that he had decided to remain in NJ his most important task was to connect with as many local developers as possible. Realizing this helped spur him on to getting the chapter organized and running with the help of original founder Darrell Porcher, who started the chapter as a simple unaffiliated club back in 1995. From their initial meeting in NYC in December of 2001, the chapter has since grown to monthly gatherings of 30-50 people from all over New Jersey, with visitors from Pennsylvania and New York/New York City. It’s also one of the leading chapters in the world in terms of community interaction, structure and IGDA involvement.

However there was a lot of struggle to get the chapter to its current state and position. Drew was the main coordinator for over 3 years, with increasing assistance from other members as the chapter grew slowly, month after month. Along the way many members came and went, and those that stayed formed the core of a group that would have a significant impact on the tri-state game development scene. Chapter projects and social events were organized and run over the years with varying success. As more people became aware of the chapter, more studios in New Jersey started to make themselves known and open their doors, including Slingo Games, SNK, Red Devil Games, and many more.

By 2004/2005 the chapter had begun to take on a more formal structure of meetings and leadership, with coordinators managing more of the chapter functions rather than “just anyone” so the chapter could function more smoothly as it grew. Meeting locations by now were skipping all over New Jersey until they settled on the campus of Bloomfield College, where they largely remain to this day. Also by this time, the NJ chapter had branched out to the semi-dormant NYC chapter, which until then had mainly consisted of local developers catching some drinks at a bar. Seeing the structure and organization of NJ, the NYC crew quickly got their acts together as well with the help of Eric Zimmerman from Gamelab and Wade Tinney from Large Animal Games.

As the years continued to wear on, Drew became less and less actively involved in the month-to-month management of the chapter, happy to leave it to fresh new members eager to take on the tasks involved. To remain in the loop, he and the chapter coordinators in 2005 set up an Advisory Board of experienced developers to help guide the chapter’s high-level direction. Leading up that panel allowed Drew to remain a part of the chapter while freeing up time to focus on other pursuits.

In 2008, NJ became the first chapter in the IGDA to hold structured elections following a mandate handed down by the IGDA itself as a step towards officially incorporating chapters. This is the start of the first significant change in chapter organization since the IGDA was first conceived back in 1999. Drew enjoyed becoming actively involved again in order to help work out the details of the election and count the ballots of the voters to determine the first four official coordinators of the NJ chapter. NJ continues to spearhead the development of incorporated chapters.

Today the NJ chapter has a mailing list of over 200 members, close relations with local colleges and game development educational programs, members from over a dozen studios in the tri-state area, and proffessionals with dozens of years of combined experience participating to give knowledge to the upcoming generation. In additon, the NJ and NYC chapters work closely together and are involved with many events, including Demo Night, holiday parties, regular meetings and joint social events. Both chapters have grown and fostered the development communities in their area of influence. Many of the NJ chapter members have obtained jobs and internships at companies in NYC as well through the chapters, which also has helped to bring the two chapters closer together as they increasingly share membership. On this technology article, learn how are views counted on youtube click the link to lean more.

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