First DNA Conference goes back to basics


There are not many industry conferences that start with a discussion about cavemen but we went right back to the beginning of time at the aptly named DNA Conference, organized by KWP.

Randy White of US Consultancy White Hutchinson gave us a whistle-stop tour of in-home and out-of-home entertainment, starting with Neanderthal man telling stories around the campfire. We looked at various milestones, including the first cinemas, the first computer and more recently the introduction of the internet in 1995 and the ubiquitous Facebook in 2005.

With 78% of the US now online and 60% engaged in social media, it is clear to see where people are spending most of their 5 hours a day leisure time. In fact, White gave us a shocking statistic, as of December 2010, in the UK, of the 925 minutes adults spend awake, 435 are spent in front of a screen playing games or using social media.

The industry is already well aware of the competition on leisure spend and time from games consoles and the internet. But what White identified was the demographic that still does spend money on out-of-home entertainment. He showed us that it is the highest earning sectors of society in the US that still go out of the home to spend their leisure dollar. He explained that they are looking for entertainment that has an educational element, that is sociable and which, if possible, involves eating out as well.

White was followed onto the podium by Ernest Yale of Canadian simulation theatre company Triotech (pictured). His childhood obsession with arcade games led to his setting up the company and he explained his obsession with “doing things differently”. Yale explained that his vision of the future of digital amusements and pay per play was the mid-sized theatre concept, which the company sites in shopping centres, large arcades and FECs. “A lot of people in this industry think they are artists, he says. “But I say it has to be about the return on investment.”

The ensuing speakers, who included Benoit Cornet of Alterface in Belgium and Charles Voss of Trans-Force were also simulation theatre and dark ride specialists. Although their technology and projects were of interest, their relevance to the coin-op sector was minimal. However, the theme of “sociable” entertainment persisted. If there is one thing that will make us leave our iPods, Twitter and consoles at home, it is the desire to go out and see our friends or spend time with family. Not so different in fact, from those cavemen sat around the camp fire…

Patrick Michael Head of Research and Development at Sega spoke about the possibilities of a dedicated move towards joint development for consumer and coin-op video titles with the possibility that the Casual Gaming scene could be a new provider of the next range of out-of-home entertainment hits.

Kevin Williams and Martine Parry should be congratulated on the organization of the event, which was small, informal and friendly. It was followed by a networking delegates reception at the Marriot on the Thames. At the end of the day an announcement was made that a new trade association is to be established. The DNA Interactive Entertainment Network Association will represent the DOE sector and generate publicity in the trade and consumer media, link to international divisions and run future events. For membership details go to:

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Big thanks to all that attended and supported the first event – lets build something great from this promising start.

kevin williams
23/07/2011, 11:01

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