Briana Aea, an organizer of Sacramento Indie Arcade
After growing up in the Super Nintendo era, Briana Aea let video games drift out of her life as she fashioned herself into a marketing-savvy businesswoman. But at a 2013 networking conference, she met the local, independent developers of Nascent Games and reinvigorated her interest in the childhood hobby that’s now an exploding multibillion dollar industry. An organizer of the Sacramento Indie Arcade—an informational event for those interested in playing or developing games—she hopes to help people see the multitude of benefits of building and exploring digital worlds.
What is the Sacramento Indie Arcade?
Going into our fourth year now, people get to come and meet over 40 game development studios, both locally and internationally. There’s gonna be an educational aspect. We have someone from Amazon. We have [Jason Lott] from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Virginia. We have [Michelle Hill] from 2K Games, who makes Mafia 3 and all the NBA games. She’s our keynote speaker. And she’s from Rancho Cordova. We have really no sponsors. So it’s truly an independent movement. It’s for all ages. There’s something for everyone. If you like video game tournaments, retro gaming, virtual reality; it’s all there.
What are some benefits of gaming?
With all the tension going on in our world, both locally and abroad, people are forgetting how to relax. There’s games for that. There’s Just Dance, if you want to let loose. There’s games that teach you how to sing. One skill that I’m still learning is patience. I know that back when I was growing up, you couldn’t look up certain codes on how to beat this level. There’s just all sorts of variety that needs to be part of the bigger conversation.
What tip would you give to someone interested in developing a game?
It will take time because there’s so many factors: the audio, the voice-over, the programming, the art, the rigging—all of that will come into play. But as long as you have a passion for what you’re creating, everything else will fall into place.
What made video-game streaming such a huge success?
It’s so engaging. The audience can help the player make their next decision. A game is almost equivalent to watching a movie with all the technical aspects that go into it. And Twitch streamers get so creative with the plots that they incorporate, and the way that they engage with their viewers. I have found myself watching more online content—whether it’s YouTube gaming or Twitch—than I have regular TV.
Could this become a more mainstream source of entertainment?
The impression and the communities that are built—it’s ridiculous. They’re pulling in thousands of views. But how do you monetize that? It kind of saddens me to see that because gaming is supposed to be fun. We don’t want to take away from that essence. I think what they’re going to start doing is one of the owners (of the Sacramento Kings), Andy Miller, owns an eSports team called NRG. So they’re trying to bring that to the Golden 1 Center, so you’re going to see more in-real-life interaction with those types of events, more so than just leaving it to streaming.
Gaming is stereotyped as a male hobby. Is that changing?
There’s a lot more positive conversation, a lot more support. For me, at our monthly meetups, I’m, like, one of five girls. And I tell my guys all the time, “Thank you so much for welcoming me and not making it an intimidating situation.” Because it is for females. When I started, my knowledge was very limited. But right now, I’m starting to relearn and re-love everything that I enjoyed about (games). The guys have been super-inviting, and that’s the impression that we give out at the Indie Arcade. We want it to be inclusive for everyone. Not just one gender or the hardcore gamer or the casual gamer. It’s for everyone.
So it’s not just the South Park kids playing World of Warcraft in the basement?
Right, there’s a balance. I’m a perfect example. I work a serious, business job and then I go home, chill out and pop on the Avengers in my Xbox One.
How soon until the lines between video games and reality start to blur?
The Games Developers Conference just happened in San Francisco, and the Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence exhibit has taken over. So, it’s definitely happening. That’s terrifying, though.
Yeah. How broad do you think the impacts of video games could ripple in the future?
It all depends on what you want to do. What you want to experience? Where do you want to explore? What do you want to learn? There really is no limit.