Martin Rae brings his experience in video games and finance and business development to his position as president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS). Rae took the helm of the nonprofit organization in October 2010, championing the 22-billion-dollar video game industry by raising awareness of individuals, games, companies, organizations and associations, and changing issues. As president of AIAS, Rae is the voice of the academy and its more than 30,000 trade members. He oversees the annual Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (D.I.C.E.) Summit, the D.I.C.E. Awards, D.I.C.E. Europe, the AIAS Foundation and the Into the Pixel video game art exhibit.
Q: Who in the game industry is D.I.C.E. most suited for, and how can newcomers to the industry benefit in attending?
A: D.I.C.E. attracts a strong cross-section of seasoned creatives and biz-dev folks. Emerging talent who have a keen interest in new business opportunities, making connections with C-level industry executives and getting inspired from our creative talks should absolutely mark D.I.C.E. as one of their must-attend events. We make a concerted effort to be inclusive of young talent from a programming perspective and through encouraging general attendance. With our conference in February, we sponsor the attendance of our student scholarship recipients through the Academy Foundation. While our event remains exclusive in feel, we do our best to continue to diversify.
Q: In your years of experience being the voice for D.I.C.E., what do you feel was one of the most professionally or personally impactful experiences you (or your attendees) felt at one of the events?
A: Each year is so unique and takes on a new life of its own — it’s so hard to choose. Now that we’ve started establishing themes for our conferences each year, we really are able to utilize these themes as time capsules for what has been top of mind in the industry. We search for themes that offer our speakers the ability to explore from varied angles that are a strong reflection of what is in the zeitgeist. The fact that many of our attendees are long-term supporters leads me to believe we are able to achieve this goal reasonably well.
Q: The theme for D.I.C.E. Europe 2015 is The Art of Engagement. Do you feel engagement in games is more art than science? What areas of engagement do you expect to be highlighted during the summit?
A: I think engagement is both art and science and found in how these two elements are employed together. Our speakers are really going to address this from many unique angles. 343 Industries Kevin Franklin will be sharing some analytics on how they improve player engagement based on data; DICE Studios speaker Maria Sayans will be discussing how they were able to work together with their “Battlefield 4” community to really improve the online experience over time; Mobcrush speaker, Greg Essig, will be talking about new frontiers of engagement on mobile live-streaming platforms. Engagement is central to maintaining an audience and a community, and it is achieved in so many ways today.
From a planning perspective, we’ve engineered D.I.C.E. Europe 2015 to be a premium networking experience. For the second day, we are facilitating focused roundtable sessions where we have leaders help navigate a discussion on a topic of their choice without necessarily the pressures of a main-stage presentation. Also we are taking advantage of the resort vibe of our host hotel, the W, and Barcelona itself. We encouraged attendees to bring their significant others/spouses. They get to attend all the networking events, adding a new dimension to things. I think attendees will have great fun meeting their colleagues’ significant others. If we pull it all off, the whole thing should have the feel of a unique leadership retreat that emphasizes new ways to connect and share ideas.
Q: Overall, what role does D.I.C.E. play within Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences outreach strategy? What impact do you feel this conference has within the game industry?
A: Our D.I.C.E. Summits are designed to present and promote really high-level thought leadership within the industry. Attendees leave the conferences inspired, educated and with better creative tools to continue to lead the industry forward. In addition, I can’t think of a better place to nurture deep professional relationships.
Q: Has the fundamental mission of AIAS changed, as the game industry has been evolving and expanding?
A: The mission remains the same — recognize the outstanding creativity and talent within our great industry.
Q:Staying on the theme of events, what other events, apart from D.I.C.E., does AIAS create, partner with or promote?
A: I’m glad you touched on this — the AIAS is often only associated with our main conferences, but as an organization, we represent so much more. Each year around the E3 Expo, we collaborate with the Entertainment Software Association to curate the annual Into the Pixel video game art exhibit. We have a group of fantastic jurists from both the fine art and digital worlds who review the submissions to curate a really stunning collection each year.
We are also very proud of the AIAS Foundation, which as I mentioned provides scholarships to video game students. These students also have an opportunity to attend the D.I.C.E. Summit, where we set them up with mentors who help provide invaluable connections with industry executives. Several of our past scholarship recipients came out of the conference with job offers!
Q: Is there any way for consumers to check out the speakers from D.I.C.E. Europe 2015?
A: Absolutely! We will be live-streaming on Twitch the speaking sessions on Monday, September 14, beginning at 10 a.m. CET (Central European Time). You can subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it at www.twitch.tv/dice. Also check out our speakers lineup on our website, www.diceeurope.org.