Game culture is spreading from Kaunas to the whole Lithuania
Pictures: GameOn archive
The fact that Kaunas is the real cradle of the Lithuanian gaming industry and the center of gaming culture is proven not only by successful game developing studios and specialized media channels operating in the city, but also by an active community of game developers and players who organize mass events which attract thousands of visitors and participants. These events range from the “Lan Party” in the Kaunas Sports Hall to the largest gaming convention in the Baltic States “GameOn”. We talk with one of the organizers of “GameOn” Šarūnas Kubilius about Kaunas, its players, game developers and the distribution of game culture spreading in the region.
Kaunas players’ ecosyste is active and cooperative
One of the fastest-growing and releasing the largest number of games in Lithuania the “TutoTOONS” studio, innovators and digital product developers “SneakyBox”, and holding a strong position in the market “Tiny Labs Production” – these are just a few names known to players all around the world that were born in Kaunas and have crossed the borders of Lithuania long time ago.
“Indeed, Kaunas has a well-developed gaming ecosystem: we have a lot of players, the Kaunas University of Technology which pays a lot of attention to the preparation of IT specialists. This is suitable for gaming companies, who are constantly looking for new employees. It is not surprising that companies working in this field are more likely to be established here, in Kaunas, and not elsewhere,” says Šarūnas Kubilius.
The game culture in Kaunas is spread with a help of two editorial offices which write about games only: “Žaismo DNR” and “Games LT”. For the sixteenth year, the players are invited to the computer games festival-marathon “InfoShow Lan Party” in the Kaunas Sports Hall, and it is no coincidence that Kaunas residents organize “GameOn” – the largest gaming event not only in the country but also in the whole region.
According to Šarūnas, people in this ecosystem are more focused on the community than in other business areas: “Game developers often have barbecue parties, there are popular hackathons for game developers and game jams where players create games from scratch during a limited time. The ties of this community are strengthened by theLithuanian Game Developers Association, and the media representatives are willing to join the meetings.”
Popularity surpassed the most optimistic expectations
And it was Kaunas residents who had the idea to organize “GameOn” which became a huge two-day event, attracting several thousands of visitors.
“It can be said that “GameOn” came from two merged branches – the press channel “Žaismo DNR”, which actively traveled around various events in the world and had long thought that something similar should be done in Lithuania and the organizers of “Lan Party” game marathons,” Šarūnas remembers the beginning.
And four years ago, “GameOn”, the grand convent that brings together multiplayer gaming industry, was born, and a team of ten people is preparing for it the whole year.
By the way, according to Šarūnas, the first “GameOn” was met by a lot of skeptics who did not believe that it is possible to create such a massive interest in the game culture: “I think that the organizers of the event did not expect such a success at that time: in the first year, there were 7,000 visitors and all those who wanted to participate in the event did not fit into the Siemens arena.”
This was the beginning which inspired to move forward: space has grown, as well as the number of visitors: in 2016, “GameOn” has attracted 14,000 visitors during two days, and in 2017, the number has already reached 16,000. Organizers optimistically expect about 18-20 thousand people this year.
From symphony orchestra to business meetings
Organizers of this year’s “GameOn” promise to preserve the backbone of the main activities of the event and offer significant innovations: visitors will have an educational space, family activities, the largest regional conference (one of the guests is Rami Ismail, also known as “Steve Jobs of game developers”), also electronic sports tournaments and the exhibition of the latest technology.
“Last year, we made the dream of our entire team come true – we organized a concert of the symphony orchestra which played music from games. In cooperation with the chamber orchestra of Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, we managed to find a common ground and a common idea: after the expansion to the symphony orchestra, an almost two-hour concert of game music was held. The magnificence was so strong that it was possible to see solid men shedding a tear while listening to well-known music from their favourite games,” remembers Šarūnas.
This year’s concert will come back with a new force: the mixed choir of 70 people “Jaunystė” will join the symphony orchestra, so the performance should be truly unforgettable.
Among other innovations this year is the Business Space which is important to game developers: it is a business system for business clients: “We dedicate it to the development of Lithuanian game developers so that they could meet many European specialists who have accomplished a lot in this field.”