Anthony, one of my friends from The Phat Startup, was on a panel called “Turning Gaming Passions into Profits” at SXSW. I would normally skip this kind of panel, because these usually talk about elevator pitches and personal brands and other marketing terms that sound fake and exhausting and terrible. I have terrible imposter syndrome and always struggle to describe my work history in flattering ways. I know I need to work on that, but most marketing advice just sounds like instructions on how to be an unlikeable egotist.
I went because when your friend has a panel at SXSW, you go, but I was really just planning on clapping for my friends. This turned out to be one of the best SXSW discussions I attended. (Also, instead of supporting my friends by filling a seat, I was lucky to get a good spot!)
The Phat Startup panelists talked about building non-traditional careers in games, which is always great to hear. They were all really honest about setbacks they’d encountered, and about the role that good timing and good friends had played in their successes. I don’t mean to imply that they just got lucky. Random events affect all of our career trajectories, and it’s good to remain grateful for a chance meeting or a helpful friend of a friend. It was also good to be around creative people with multiple projects going, not just the Phat Startup panel, but the audience members who asked questions as well. I kept thinking what a great question! or what a good answer, and most importantly, these are my people.
The guys opened up for questions by reminding the audience that “we’re all family here”, which was a really delightful contrast to some of the startup posturing and name-dropping I encountered at certain other SXSW events. It worked well, audience members were encouraged to explain their own career difficulties, to get expert practical advice from the panelists. It’s easy to get burned out in the games industry, and it was inspiring to me to be around others who are turning their skills and interests into new careers, especially careers that didn’t exist five years ago. I left feeling very pleased to be part of the games industry and the Phat Startup family.