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Lou Fasulo, Chris Taylor, Jeff Strain and Ed Fries discuss the future of gaming at Thursday’s Power of Play event.
One-man indie developer Robby Zinchak won first place at the Seattle Independent Game Competition.

It was all about gaming Thursday afternoon at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue as the sixth annual Power of Play event welcomed some compelling discussion from industry vets and crowned the first-place winner of the Seattle Independent Game Competition.

Four industry veterans were on hand for a panel about the future of gaming. Industry legend Ed Fries moderated the talk and began with some somber comments.

“The game industry kind of feels like (a) slow motion train wreck,” Fries offered.

That sparked a great 30-minute discussion between Fries, Jeff Strain of Undead Labs, Lou Fasulo of Z2Live and Chris Taylor of GasPowered Games.

“There are more people playing games today than ever, but just across a wider range of devices,” Strain countered. “For those of us making games, that’s great. You just have to focus on the platforms.” 

Taylor emphasized the importance of creativity. Years ago, Taylor said, it was all about who could build the best hardware and find use of the best technology. Now, most developers have access to the same level of technology — it’s what they can do with that technology that will set companies apart.

Judges from the Seattle Indie Game Competition test out Zach Aikman’s Voronoid game.

“Creative people are going to rule in the next 10 years,” he said.

Taylor, who is currently dealing with financial problems at Gas Powered Games, also spoke about how difficult it will be for big studios to continue funding $100 million projects and paying expensive developers high salaries. Developers — particularly younger ones in foreign countries —now have easy to access to the newest technology and are building uber-popular games on the cheap.

The panel also touched on Apple and the company’s role in the gaming space. Apple technically does not fund any of the games on its “console” and some think the iPad is sucking the energy out of the traditional console market.

“It’s very likely that Apple will pay out larger sums of money to developers than the other platforms as they figure out how to play better in this new ecosystem,” Fasulo said.

One thing everyone could agree on is the monumental shift the industry is going through right now. While there are certainly more gamers than ever, what platforms and which companies rise to the top is very much up in the air.

“The games will keep coming,” Taylor said. “But the people are going to change.”

Robby Zinchak, a one-man indie developer and former Microsoft producer, won first place at the Seattle Independent Game Competition for his 8-bit construction sandbox massive multiplayer game called 8BitMMO. Zinchak’s game allows players to build homes and castles, manage cities and engage in player vs. player battle all in massive 8-bit world.

Zinchak, a former Capcom and Midway developer, beat out four other competitors: Cascade Game Foundry’s Infinite Scuba, Zach Aikman’s Voronoid, Rumor Games’ Voyager and Studio IP’s Woollyman.

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