Robert Bowling & Modern Warfare 3 in Helsinki at Pizza and Game brands seminar

Check out Robert Bowling from Infinity Ward chilling at the Pelaaja office where we chatted about Modern Warfare 3.

Our Pizza and Game brands -event was a huge success on all accounts. This was an event aimed for Finnish game developers, business media and the general videogames industry. We talked about game brands, the importance of marketing, gave an overview of where the Finnish games industry is at and did this via some of the best speakers there are.

We had a stunning line up of speakers and this part of the seminar was my task.

We had Remedy’s CEO Matias Myllyrinne, who, needless to say,  is a busy man, but took the time to come and talk about how Remedy approaches building brands and their experiences.

We had Tero Virtala, CEO of RedLynx, the studio behind TrialsHD, Motoheroz and other games, who gave a great speech on the tough journey of RedLynx and how they found their focus via TrialsHD. Many came up to me saying that Tero’s talk especially was great because it was practical and raw.

Erol Tekkanat from King, the organizers of the event alongside my previous employer Pelaaja-magazine, did his presentation on why building brands out of games is important. I know he was super nervous before hitting the stage, but you could see none of that as he found his groove right away and brought the passion. Erol’s presentation resonated well with the crowd, who I think really realized that the point of the event is to help developers realize that we want to help them fulfill their vision and get them financial success via marketing and proper branding.

The more our developers games sell, the better it is for our local ecosystem  -everybody benefits. We all want our Finnish games developers to succeed.

I kicked off with the first presentation and it’s title was “Game brands, st4tistics, passion and numb3rs”. I had gone through my presentation quite a few times at home and clocked it at 19 minutes, but now when I did it on stage, I was at 19 minutes before the last two slides so I really had to rush it at the end. People seemed to dug it and I got great feedback. I tend to try and trust my passion on stage to carry me through when my points might not be entirely clear or logical :p

We had Kari from Tekes, who was last minute addition as the other Tekes speaker got sick. Kari’s slides, well, erm were of the kind we didnt want – Powerpoint slides full of tex from top to bottom all displayed at the same time, but he was on point with his message and as Tekes funds a lot of the local technology development R&D and thus games development, their message is important.

The keynote was from Infinity Ward’s Robert “fourzerotwo” Bowling. He’s basically one of the key dudes behind Call of Duty and Modern Warfare. Call of Duty is one of the biggest brands and definitely the biggest game brand out there…when we talked about doing this event and we kicked around idea’s as to who should do the keynote, we agreed it has to show that we are serious about this event and be somebody who would get us the mainstream business media to attend as well. So I thought of Robert which was pretty crazy considering how insanely busy he is and let’s be real…we are a small 300 people event in Helsinki, which probably is of very little interested to such a high-profile person. But as I explained our mission to Robert, he was totally down with coming down if we got the dates to work out. It was far more complicated than that, but worked out at the end.

We did have a point where weren’t able to get him to come down, but the folks at King managed to work around a new date and we made this happen. It felt incredible. The amount of emails and and just the amount of coordination required was challenging but fun. Above all, Robert did an awesome keynote, really heartfelt so it all worked out. As the person who was mostly responsible in getting our speakers to our event, I was really worried that the event needed to be good enough for them that the time they spent on their presentations would be justified…it was, but man, did I stress about that. If our event would have been weak, the organizing bad, little crowd…I would have looked like shit to these guys for wasting their time. That to me was the biggest worry really, I’ll admit that. Of course, King needs to generate business out of this, so I hope that works out too.

Every speaker was really happy with how the event turned out, they said it was the best industry event they had been in Finland, which felt so good to hear on behalf of all of us organizing the event. The crowd gave props too and found the information useful – that was what this was about…giving information and help to our developers and to make them realize, marketing is important.

Matias and Tero are super-experienced in running development studios in Finland, they’ve had success, they’ve had a tough times and they’ve weathered the storm. So when you get these guys to share their experiences, for free I might add, it’s hugely valuable to our audience. Those who didnt show up, you really missed a lot!

So again, huge thanks to all of our speakers and organizers, we did amazingly good!

Robert, me and Josh from Activision.

So before the even there was a lot to do and this is what my day was like…

Thursday

So I totally skip the day from my regular paying day job!

08:30am get up and drive to the hotel to make sure Robert and Josh’s room’s are ready in time and make sure the goodie bags I put together the previous day are waiting for them at their rooms upon check in.

10:30 pick up Robert and Josh from the airport and drive them to the hotel. They have slept a single hour last night and need to sleep.

11:30 Go to the event venue to rehearse and make sure my laptop and presentation work. A lot of final details need to be locked down, like exactly who intro’s which speaker, who puts the mics on the speakers and gets the speakers from their seats when it’s their turn, who looks after everyone’s laptops, who does the hand signals with the audio and visual crew at the back of the room who monitor everything …lot of little details.

12:00 – 13:00 Speakers come to the venue to check out that their presentations looks right on the big screen. We had some issues as most of us like me, did our slides in widescreen, but the video projector does 4:3. But changing the laptops into 1024×76 resolutions solved this problem.

Discuss with Erol and the rest of the King organizing crew about the visuals and what kind of visuals we’d have to back up Robert’s keynote.

Then, I run to get Robert and Josh and we go to…

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch. King organized lunch for the speakers and key business media. It was very casual, just shooting the shit and King’s CEO Daniel introduced everyone and discussed why were doing the event in the first place.

14:30 Run to the Pelaaja office with Robert and tape the interview you can watch above.

15:00 Back to event venue, hook my laptop, check final details.

15:30 Doors open, mingle with everybody, plan the intro with Erol. We decide on playing Notorious B.I.G’s Big Poppa as the song when we get on stage.

16:10 Kick off

19:00 All seminars over and Robert killed it with a very personal 30 minute keynote where he simply talked about how he got into the industry, how Infinity Ward handles Modern Warfare and just how they keep making sure the brand stays real and true to it’s origins. Ever speaker did great in fact, I was super happy about this and I think honestly all of us form the organizing side were surprised at just how well things went!

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