1. What is CGDC?
A: The Christian Game Developers Conference. It is a conference aimed at Christians who make games.
2. WHEn IS THE CGDC?
A: Summer, usually in July, is when the CGDC is held. Summer provides the best weather for traveling and accommodation for families and students. Traditionally, the conference is three days beginning on a Thursday morning and ending on a Saturday afternoon to allow for a day of rest/worship on Sunday as well as a day of travel for those resuming work on Monday. And if there is sufficient interest, an optional field trip to the Oregon coast happens on Sunday after the close of the CGDC.
The 2016 CGDC will be held Thurs July 14th through Sat July 16th.
People may arrive as early as Weds. July 13th afternoon for overnight stay. Grounds open at 12 noon, Registration should begin around 5 pm. The conference ends Saturday evening, but the dorms are available for staying in through Sunday morning.
3. Where is CGDC located?
A: Ever since its inception, the CGDC has been held in the city of Portland; the state of Oregon’s largest city, 70 miles inland from the coast, and home to about 2.4 million people. The city is bisected by the Willamette River, which conveniently separates east and west and allows for streets to be laid out in a directional grid pattern (NE, NW, SE, SW), while the northern border (of both the city and Oregon) is bound by two bridges over the Columbia River: the I-5 Interstate Bridge and the I-205 Glenn L Jackson Memorial Bridge. Portland has a temperate climate with temperatures in July ranging between 58 F and 81 F and tends to be dry and sunny during those times. More information about this vibrant city can be found at: http://www.travelportland.com
Traditionally, the conference is held at a university or college; this allows access to all the needed facilities (e.g. auditoriums, classrooms, a cafeteria, dorm rooms) while simultaneously keeping costs low. Previous CGDC conferences have been held at Cascade College, Pacific Warner College, and Concordia University.
The 2016 CGDC will be held at Multnomah University.
4. WHO CAN ATTEND THE CGDC?
A: Our organization strives to reflect Christian values and as such is inclusive by nature. The conference is intended for those interested in the development of Christian games of all types: video, tabletop, board, and card games. No one will ask for, nor check, any type of “credentials”. We welcome people of all skill levels, from the hobbyist to the professional developer. Believers working on non-Christian games are also welcome. Our attendees tend to be open and willing to share their expertise. We also welcome those whom, while not game makers, are interested in the use of Christian video games for their ministry or surrounding community.
Additionally, while the conference is Christian based, anyone of any faith can attend, and we do not espouse, nor are we affiliated with any particular denomination. Out of courtesy and respect for others, we ask that attendees refrain from unnecessary religious debates, as our core values include charity towards others and placing God (rather than our opinions) at the center of all we strive towards.
Finally, for the most part, age is not a barrier to participation; we have had many younger, teenage attendees in the past and encourage them to consider creating Christian video games as a vocation. And while we do not discourage young toddlers and babies, be aware that daycare is not provided. All children under the age of 18 are expected to remain under the supervision of their parent(s).
5. WHO ORGANIZES THE CGDC?
A: The CGDC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity (donations are tax deductible but not registration or conference costs) that consists of a President and a Board of Directors. The conference is the main event hosted by the organization and has occurred annually, without fail, thanks to the Holy Spirit, since its inception.
It was founded with God’s direction at the beginning of this century in 2001 by Tim Emmerich, who works as an engineer, runs his own company (Graceworks Interactive) in his spare time, and still attends every year. Tim puts everyone at ease (be forewarned, he likes to give hugs) and ensures that the organization stays true to its core values and mission.
Our current President, Charlie Mauck, a software architect, handles most of the high level conference logistics; a father to many, Charlie is the archetypal family man, friendly to all, and generous to a fault. He owns a beach house in Coastal Oregon that has been the site of the optional Sunday field trip which he generously offers to attendees and hosts after the CGDC proper.
In addition to Tim and Charlie, the current Board consists of Jon Collins (CEO of Kaio Interactive), Peter Churness (Pastor at One Hope Church and Owner of Rebel Planet Creations), and Scott Wong (President of Brethren Entertainment and GameSamba).
Much of the volunteer coordination, registration, and housing logistics are handled by James Marantette, a freelance sound designer, local resident, avid motorcycle rider, and all-around stand-up guy.
Tim, Charlie, and James are the core staff, along with volunteers (more on that later), who organize the conference and make things happen. We are all grateful for their dedicated efforts throughout many years. Most questions while at the conference can be answered by any one of them. All of them are very approachable, open to your feedback, and willing to make your conference experience as comfortable and constructive as possible.
6. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
A: An enjoyable experience at the least. Here's some more detail:
CONTENT: Previous conferences have included speaker presentations, panels, workshops, demonstrations, and special interest forums/discussion sessions. Each year’s format(s) are determined in large part by those who step forward to present. Topics vary from technical presentations, to ministry overviews, to philosophical/theological seminars, to discussions on business/funding. For more of an idea of what has been presented in the past, check out our YouTube channel at:
Other events in the past have included dance video contests, documentary showings, concerts, video game (LAN) parties (and XBus), and informal gatherings at the local pie shop. It is not uncommon for many attendees to stay up late into the evening participating in social activities or group/individual discussions.
ATTENDANCE: The size of the conference varies from year to year; attendance ranges from 45 to 75 people on average, but given the increase of our presence on social media, we expect an increase this year.
FELLOWSHIP: It is not uncommon for attendees to return year after year, which gives the conference a real “family”/”community” feel. If this is your first conference, expect that you will gain friends. You will not be another face in the crowd. The conference usually includes time at the beginning for everyone to introduce themselves and tell others briefly their involvement in Christian game development or ministry. Meals are communal and there is plenty of time to socialize/interact with others.
TONE: Business suits are not needed; dress is casual and comfortable. Overall the conference strives to balance a relaxed environment with professionalism and unpretentious interactions that provide edification, encouragement, and fosters collaboration.
PREMIUMS: Every conference attendee will get a CGDC t-shirt; other conference swag varies from year to year depending on organizational supply (e.g. CGDC mouse pads) and developer/attendee generosity (contest prizes, handouts, and promotionals are not uncommon). Not all premiums are material, experiences are likely as well. In addition to the opportunity to participate in an optional field trip, many a developer has brought with them technologies (e.g. VR, Weiv device, mo-cap setups) and games to share with attendees.
EXPECTATIONS: First time conference attendees are advised to allow the Holy Spirit to work its will during the conference (and after). Those that come with a personal agenda may leave disappointed. On the other hand, those that have allowed the Spirit to work within them have sometimes found success, as Chris Skaggs of Soma Games and Ryan Green of That Dragon, Cancer can attest. For their stories check out:
There is no job matching program/service; all discussions of employment are informal and attendees reasonably expect that they will not be beleaguered with employment requests. If you are interested in employment, your best strategy is to show your skills and allow the right person to come to you. Also, do not underestimate the value of being mentored and/or the opportunity to network with likeminded professionals.
EXHORTATIONS: Beware the following patterns of thinking, as they have appeared at the conference before and are ultimately avoided / rejected:
False Inspiration – “I have a vision and product that I know is God breathed. Everyone should drop their unimportant projects and work together to help me produce and market mine.”
Sloth – “This is good enough. God has blessed this project, so whatever I do will suffice.”
Rationalization – “Content and/or quality is less important than success. My game will support Christian families, so this is obviously justified. As long as we sell products then investors will notice us and future Christian games will be funded.”
Pride – “Only game developers that match my theology should be making Christian games. If the authors or content are not what I deem ‘Christian’, then it should be rejected by all.”
7. WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL COSTS OF ATTENDING?
A: The organization strives to keep expenses reasonable so that costs don’t become a stumbling block to attendance. Some attendees may opt to attend for two days rather than all three. There are different registration options available to account for this. Also, the organization offers those who register sooner (early registration) lower prices that those who register closer to the conference start date (regular registration). As with most conferences, the cost of travel to/from the conference and board/housing is NOT included as part of registration.
In the past, early registration for all three days has been $175 and $150 for two days. Additionally, attendees in the past have had the option of staying on campus overnight in a dorm room for $25 per night (note that this is per person, NOT per room, even if the room is shared with another attendee since the contract with the University is stipulated as such).
Remember to bring some extra cash as our Expo vendors will be selling their products and for those attending the optional field trip, money for food / gas reimbursement will be helpful.
8. WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF REGISTRATION?
A: Registration usually opens in April although it can/may open earlier if the organization wants to get an earlier estimate of how many are interested / likely to attend. Watch for announcements on social media (Facebook pages in particular) for when registration opens.
Registration itself is usually done via our webpage:
You can use credit cards for payment when you pre-register online, or pay during registration using credit cards or check. Regardless of payment, fill out the forms online to have it available for planning purposes. Registration generally opens Thursday morning.
9. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS?
A: For THOSE FLYING IN, Portland International (PDX) is the nearest airport:
It is located about 6 miles (12 minutes by car) from Multnomah University.
For THOSE USING BUS SERVICE, the Greyhound Portland Bus Station is at:
550 NW 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209
And for THOSE USING AMTRAK RAIL SERVICE, the nearby Portland Union Station (PDX) is at:
800 NW 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209
For all those using the above means of travel, we will do our best to provide shuttle service to and from the conference. Phone numbers to call upon your arrival will be provided with your registration materials.
For THOSE OF YOU DRIVING, the University is located at:
8436 NE Glisan Street, Portland, OR 97220
TRAVELING ON I-5 SOUTH, coming from the North:
On the Washington state side, after exit 11, keep to your right to merge onto I-205
Continue on I-205; take the bridge over the Columbia River to enter Oregon
Continue on I-205 until you reach Exit 21A
Exit the off ramp and make a right onto NE Glisan Street
The University is six blocks down, after NE 87th Avenue on the right
TRAVELING ON THE I-5 NORTH, coming from the South:
As you approach Portland, keep an eye out for Exit 288
Take exit 288 to merge right onto I-205
Continue on I-205 until you reach Exit 21A
Exit the off ramp and make a left onto NE Glisan Street
The University is six blocks down, after NE 87th Avenue on the right
Parking (no charge) will be available in designated areas on campus. A campus map detailing where those areas are will be sent with your registration materials. For those coming from out of state, be advised that gas stations in Oregon are NOT self-service, by order of the Fire Marshall. Someone will come to pump your gas. Gratuities are not expected but nice to do.
If you are thinking of doing a road trip, remember to check with other Christian developers who might want to rideshare with you:
We will be praying for the safety and comfort of those traveling to/from the conference and we ask that you do the same.
10. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR STAYING / SLEEPING OVERNIGHT?
A: Many conference attendees take advantage of the available University dorm rooms. Rooms are assigned and keys distributed during registration. Rooms are normally segregated by gender (except for married couples/families) and most attendees share a room with another attendee. Dorm rooms will be first available the evening of Wednesday July 13th and checkout (keys returned and room cleaned) will be Sunday July 17th before 10:30 am. Make sure not to lose your keys as you will be charged to replace them.
These are empty dorm rooms so plan on bringing bedding/pillow (plus your toiletries, towels and medicine). For those flying, contact us in advance if this is an issue. See more details in the “What should I bring with me to the CGDC?” section below.
For those that decide not to utilize the dorms, there are a number of nearby hotel options:
Comfort Inn Portland (0.4 miles)
Days Inn Portland Airport (0.5 miles)
Ramada Inn Portland (0.8 miles)
Red Roof Inn Portland (1.6 miles)
Howard Johnson Inn Airport Portland (1.7 miles)
11. WHAT ABOUT FOOD AT THE CGDC?
A: Once at the conference, most meals are included (except for Wednesday evening dinner for those who arrive the night before); snacks and drinks will be provided. If you have any food allergies or are on a special diet, please let us know when you register online. Also, if we do dine out for any meal that is also be covered as part of your registration.
If you decide to forgo the communal meals, some restaurants are within 2 blocks:
Burgerville - 8218 NE Glisan St
Wendy’s - 232 NE 82nd Ave
Bai Yok Thai Cuisine - 150 NE 82nd Ave
East Glisan Pizza Lounge - 8001 NE Glisan St
Bui Natural Tofu - 520 NE 76th Ave
Macau Chinese Seafood Restaurant - 707 NE 82nd Ave
Taco Time - 1024 NE 82nd Ave
12. WHAT ABOUT PRAYER / SUNDAY WORSHIP AFTER THE CGDC?
A: It is common for sessions and meals to begin with a short extemporaneous prayer. Each day of the conference begins with an optional Prayer Meeting (usually around 7:30am) before breakfast.
As far as nearby churches, there are numerous options (in alphabetical order):
Central Bible Church: http://www.centralbible.net
City Blessing Church: http://www.portlandcityblessing.org
Eastside Church of Christ: http://eastsidecofcportland.com
Grace Baptist Church: http://graceportland.com
Highland Christian Center: http://hcclive.com
Living God Baptist Church: http://www.livinggodchurch.com
Montavilla Baptist Church: http://montavillabaptist.org
St Peter and Paul Episcopal Church: http://www.spsppdx.org
13. DOES THE CGDC HAVE SPONSORS? WHAT ARE THE DETAILS?
A: Yes, the organization has sponsors that help fund conference expenses. Various Board members and others are always on the lookout for those willing to financially support our cause. Of course, you don’t have to be a sponsor in order to give financially - donations are both accepted and appreciated.
Because of our non-profit 501(c)(3) status, money given to the organization is tax deductible, which is the primary benefit of sponsorship. It’s important to understand that, due to current tax laws, the value of anything received in return (e.g. advertising, product promotion) subtracts from the amount you can deduct. Unless asked otherwise, the organization will NOT offer valued added services or preferences for our sponsors in order to protect their deduction. Furthermore, the conference fees provide the benefit of attending and eating, so those can not be deducted. If you have concerns, contact your tax attorney.
We operate in a manner that is fiscally conservative and financially responsible. All money donated goes towards organizational programs, as none of our Board or other associates is reimbursed for the service they render. We keep expenses to a minimum in order to make the conference affordable for our attendees. As a consequence, the generosity of our sponsors allows us to expand programs and meet organizational needs that we couldn’t ordinarily afford. Both Tim and Charlie are available to discuss further for those interested.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Tim at email@example.com.
If you would like to donate via PayPal, you can do so at: http://www.cgdc.org/give/
14. WHAT ABOUT SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE CGDC?
A: As a Christian organization, we desire to have all those who want to, and are able to, attend God’s conference, but realize that it’s not always possible due to financial constraints.
To that end, the CGDC offers a limited number of need-based scholarships that cover registration fees only (not travel nor board). Scholarships are granted on a case by case basis and the total number given is constrained by our budget (another reason sponsors are needed).
We ask that you prayerfully consider the extent of your need, whether it can be covered through other means, and be mindful of the impact it has on the organization (too many scholarships will create a financial burden and drive up conference costs).
Those needing assistance can discreetly contact our organization via email or indicate such on the registration form. So as not to embarrass anyone, we do not ever announce nor reveal who receives scholarships. Also since scholarships are not merit based, there are no contests to enter or essays to fill out. Just send us a succinct message detailing your need and we will follow-up. Know that it is never our intention to turn anyone away, but we can NOT guarantee, for the above stated reasons, that all applicants will receive scholarships.
Consider working to save up for the expenses. Also, contact your local church leaders. Perhaps they could partially sponsor you to attend in exchange for you presenting a summary of what you learned and demonstrate the Bible-based games that are available now.
15. WHO ARE THE SPEAKERS FOR THE CGDC? CAN I PRESENT?
A: We have a variety of different speakers that present every year; some of which are asked by the organization and some of which volunteer to present. The topics presented span a broad range of subjects related to Christian games and Christian developers> Each subject and presenter is vetted by the organization prior to approval and scheduling. Speakers are not paid due to budgetary constraints, but most benefit regardless because of the ability to promote their product/service/cause, the networking opportunities afforded, the chance to share/demonstrate their expertise, and through the feedback they receive. Although not a strict rule, we recommend participating as attendee for one year before applying to present. Those interested in speaking can contact Tim at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The scheduling and speaker list for the CGDC are posted on our website and announced via social media once presenters are confirmed.
16. IS THERE AN EXPO AT THE CGDC? WHAT ARE THE DETAILS?
A: Yes, anyone who has paid and registered for the conference is eligible to be a part of our annual Expo for no additional charge.
Not only is it an opportunity for developers to share their creative ventures with others, but also a chance to receive constructive feedback and support from those who have faced similar difficulties. The organization strongly advocates that developers aspire to excellence, infuse quality in all their works, and be true to the artistry God has placed in their hearts. We hope that you apply that same standard to your Expo presentation as well. Feel free to create an elaborate booth, distribute handouts/swag, display stunning visuals, or bring/apply the latest technologies to what you present; and while such is certainly not required, it is always appreciated. Don’t, however, let that dissuade you from presenting what you have, as the best creative collaborations come out of works in progress rather than those presented as finished; know that our attendees are more interested in building each other up than subjecting others to withering criticism.
Expo presentations generally take one of four types: a booth exhibit, a table presentation, a scheduled laptop demonstration, or a remote Skype session. We welcome all four types and can accommodate most reasonable requests you might have, provided you give us sufficient notice.
For booth/table exhibits, we provide internet, electrical access, and space for your display. We can also provide, if requested, at least one table (more available if space permits) and chairs. Laptop demonstrations are generally scheduled at the conference with sign-ups occurring the first day. Due to time constraints, only a limited number Skype sessions are available, contact us at least a month in advance to secure a time slot.
It is not uncommon for Expo vendors to offer products or services for sale. Each vendor is responsible for the logistics associated with merchandising (e.g. making change, providing receipts, tracking/confirming orders, and applicable sales tax); the vendor assumes all liability and agrees, by participating in the Expo, to hold the organization harmless in matters related to their sales.
Finally, a few notable guidelines:
1) We strongly prefer that you indicate on your registration form that you’re participating in the Expo in order to better help us plan.
2) The product/service/cause that you are promoting must be appropriate to Christian developers; we reserve the right to decline potential vendors.
3) For contractual and liability reasons, no sales or distribution of food, beverages, or alcohol (other than by us or contracted food services) at the conference site will be allowed.
4) There is a general expectation that content you promote will be “family friendly” or at least contain appropriate warnings if otherwise; contact us ahead of time if your content will require warnings or if have questions.
5) The vendor and his agents are expected to use reasonable care not to damage the host facilities and agree to any necessary reparation.
6) The vendor is responsible for any costs associated with shipping material to/from the conference.
7) It is expected that the vendor will set up and tear down their booth. Tear down includes cleaning up. If significant materials and trash (“mess”) is left, the vendor may be billed for the labor involved in tear down.
17. WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME TO THE CGDC?
A: First and foremost, bring yourself and the products of your creative endeavors to share with others. We also ask that you bring an open heart and a willingness to build up those attending and other Christian game developers. Dress is casual so guys won’t need a suit, tie, or tuxedo; nor will ladies need formalwear, fancy shoes, or a ballroom gown. While God is in control of the weather, it does vary quite a bit. Consider bringing a light jacket and clothing that can handle cool to hot weather. Do bring whatever electronic media (laptops, tablets, phones, and chargers for each) needed for your game. Also, consider bringing a camera (to record and share your memories), business cards to facilitate networking, and your favorite Bible to reference. Don’t forget to bring your toiletries and any needed medications.
For those staying in the dorms, know that you’ll need to provide your own bedding/sleeping bag (a limited number will be available for those unable to do so - indicate that on your online registration form), hygiene items (e.g. soap, shampoo), and towels. Light sleepers should also consider bringing earplugs.
18. WHAT ARE OTHER WAYS I CAN PARTICIPATE OUTSIDE THE CONFERENCE?
A: Consider doing any or all of the following:
CREATE: We encourage all developers to practice their craft throughout the year; creating and releasing games (even secular ones), developing game artwork, and writing code modules / snippets as a means of improving skills.
COLLABORATE: Utilize each other’s strengths and specialties to create something greater than what you could do by yourself. Share techniques, lessons learned, and best practices so that we build each other up. Join a team!
COMMERCE: Buying and promoting each other’s games is a great way to reinforce not only each other, but also the Christian game space at large. Additionally, many in our group do not have business experience, so sharing that piece with others is a big help for all.
COMMENT: The organization has a number of social media options available to help facilitate interaction (Facebook groups, Twitter, YouTube, forums, Steam Community Group); add your opinions to help shape the products we create.
CONSECRATE: We asked for continued prayers for the conference, for all Christian developers, for the projects they work on, and for all those that support them.
CORROBORATE: There are many ways to help. Involve yourself through conference planning, volunteering to speak, becoming or finding a sponsor, and sharing with others about what we are doing.