A key part of the Execution Labs formula is tapping into the collective wisdom of the game community. This is largely manifested by our intense mentorship program, where we invite gurus from around the industry to come to XL, share their experiences, play with the games being produced, and give hands-on (and often quite critical) feedback to all of the teams.
Luckily game folks are a generous lot and we’ve been humbled by the degree of interest, support, and genuine help we’ve gotten from our mentors, and the community more broadly. Looking back at 2013 (aka the first year of Execution Labs), it is amazing how many awesome people came to XL to share their expertise with the teams!
In fact, the very first mentor activity was what was later labeled “The Firehose Day,” when we invited 20+ of our local mentors to get an initial pitch from each team, and then do 30 minute round-robin style feedback session rotations. From the Firehose Day forward, the plan was to have roughly one mentor come in per week (though, we would skip weeks when we were away for GDC or when other big activities were occurring like DemoDay at the International Startup Festival).
In terms of weekly mentors, here’s who popped in over this past year:
- Adrian Crook – game design/monetization consultant
- Mark Mikulec – founder, Mikutech (London)
- Samantha Youssef – artistic director, Studio Technique (Montreal)
- Eric Zimmerman – indie game designer (NYC)
- Laurent Mascherpa – CEO, Massive Finger (Montreal)
- JS Cournoyer and all the partners at Real Ventures (Montreal)
- David Lightbown – UX director, Ubisoft (Ottawa)
- Devin Horsman – cofounder, Twisted Oak Studios (Halifax)
- Justin Stolzenberg – COO, European Games Group (Germany)
- Guillaume Germain – founder, Roofdog Games (Montreal)
- Morgan Kennedy – user research analyst, Ubisoft (Montreal)
- Bram Sugarman – associate, OMERS Ventures (Toronto)
- Arthur Price – UI consultant (Montreal)
- Jason VendenBerghe – creative director, Ubisoft (Montreal)
- Mark Baxter – cofounder, Vivity Labs (Vancouver)
- Heather Kelley – founder, Perfect Plum (Vienna)
- Tamir Nadav – senior producer, Playdom/Disney (San Franscisco)
- Carey Chico – game consultant (Los Angeles)
- Kenny Huang – CEO, Blue Bat Games (Vancouver)
- Bill Fulton – founder, Ronin User Experience (Seattle)
- Oystein Eftevaag – software engineer, Google (Montreal)
- Jonathan Osborne – indie game designer (Montreal)
- Thiery Adam – producer, Ludia (Montreal)
- Scott Jon Siegel – senior game designer, PopCap (San Francisco)
- Randy Smith – creative director, Tiger Style (Austin)
- Dan Taylor – level designer, Eidos (Montreal)
- CJ Kershner – writer, Ubisoft (Montreal)
- Ken Seto – CEO, Massive Damage (Toronto)
- Chris Bretz – art director/consultant (Toronto)
- Elicia Basoli – indie game PR specialist (Boston)
- Chris Paretti – game design consultant (San Francisco)
- Chris Ye – CEO, Uken Games (Toronto)
- Gael Meagher – product manager, King (London)
- Jamie Cheng – founder, Klei Entertainment (Vancouver)
- Nicholas Lovell – director, GamesBrief (England)
- David Lipes – cofounder, Budge Studios (Montreal)
And that’s not even factoring many of the quick drop ins from random developers and publishers, or visits from VCs, or foreign delegations from India or Brazil, or press and camera crews coming to see what the fuss was all about.
Additionally, we had visits from many of our industry friends and partners to provide a little extra support to the teams, or give an open lecture to the community as a whole. These ranged from very game-specific service providers to more broadly targeted businesses and included the likes of Microsoft, Autodesk, Flurry, Unity, PlayJam, Ouya, Tapjoy, Hansoft, PlayHaven, Chartboost, CMF/Telefilm, Ernst & Young, Fasken Martineau, Babel, Game On Audio, La Hacienda, Invest Quebec, and more.
Oh, and that’s not even mentioning all the extra learning and sharing that took place via some of the events XL teams were at to showcase/present/attend, like GDC, Casual Connect, MIGS, OIGC, Boston FIG, and NYC DemoNight. It’s a wonder anyone had time to actually make games!!!
On behalf of Jason, Alex, Keith and everyone at XL, a hearty “Thank You!!!” to our mentors, partners, and supporters for all of your help over the past year. And thank you for your belief in independent game makers as a critical and vibrant element of the game ecosystem.
Here are some pictures highlighting all that sharing:
The (in)famous Phil Fish in on “Firehose Day”.
“Firehose Day” mentoring roundtable in full effect.
Eric Zimmerman gives an open lecture on his principles of design.
Chartboost’s Nate Barker welcomes folks to the Execution Labs post MIGS party.
Julie Uhrman presents the Ouya micro-console to local indies.
Surprise visit from Tracy Fullerton of USC to play games.
The Double Stallion crew with MA governor Deval Patrick.
Cindy Poremba and Michel McBride-Charpentier testing a paper proto of Henchmen.
Justin Stolzenberg digs into a well deserved steak after a long day of mentoring.