By Hernan Lopez, Casual Connect Goodwill Ambassador of LATAM
If you are planning to explore LATAM and you like the good weather, friendly people and business opportunities, I heavily recommend you check out the BIG Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. BIG Festival is one of the (if not THE) biggest video game conference in Latin America, with a lot of business-oriented lectures, exclusive showcase, important prizes, a good matchmaking tool, plenty of meeting tables, a lovely mingle area –
but the most importantly, a well balanced cocktail of people from the video gamse industry looking to do business.
Public & Exclusive
The event is a mixed event, with an open to the public area as well as a business area exclusive to the people of the games industry. The public area includes the game showcase and lecture halls. For 2017, most of the lectures were distributed in three different auditoriums. The logistics were amazing and all lectures were well attended. Many of the lectures focused on the current state of the games industry and opportunities in LATAM and Brazil – providing a great chance to learn more about the expanding region.
The showcase area displayed games finalist from BIG Starter, BIG booth and, of course, finalists of the BIG Festival Awards. Since BIG Starter and BIG booth are only Brazilian contests, and the BIG Festival includes Best brazilian Game, most of the roughly 40 video games displayed on the showcase were from Brazil. However, games from other Latin American countries, and even games outside LATAM, were also showcased. In all cases the games were top-notch, highly polished games.
Down to Business
The Business area had a lovely mingle room with strong coffee to keep you going through the day, delicious local snacks, a lot of electric plugs and a good WiFi signal with a decent internet speed, something that I really appreciated. There were a lot of talented developers, publishers, investors and people seeking to do business with the games industry there. Attendees could set up and arrange meetings in the meetings area with BIG Festival’s matchmaking tool. It’s interesting to note that the meeting area could only be accessed if you had set up a meeting beforehand. The meeting room had around 40 tables, with people using the room throughout the day – which I found to be impressive.
There was a good balance between people offering products and people interested in investing in products that made the business section really appealing and productive. You could find well-established publishers along with representatives of great game companies. Something to highlight was the high presence of game industry associations from prominent countries – such as ADVA (Argentina), VJCHILE (Chile), CAVI (Uruguay), and, of course, ABRAGAMES (Brazil, and the organizers of the event) among others. It seems that the Latin America Games Industry Federation is starting to take shape, and the event was a good excuse to start to move things in that direction.
The Award ceremony was perfectly executed. The winners were:
Best Game: Overcooked (Ghost Town Games)
Best Gameplay: Overcooked (Ghost Town Games)
Best Latin American Game: The Deadly Tower of Monsters (ACE Team)
Best Brazilian Game: Distortions (Among Giants)
Best Game by People’s Choice: Distortions (Among Giants)
Best Educational Game: Orwell (Osmotic Studios)
Best Virtual Reality Game: SUPERHOT VR (Superhot Team)
Best Art: Old Man’s Journey (Broken Rules)
Best Narrative: Figment (Bedtime Digital Games)
Best Innovation: Yankai’s Peak (Kenny Sun)
Best Sound: ETHEREAL (Nonsense Arts)
BIG Starter – Entertainment: King Boom (Mad Fellows)
BIG Starter – Educational: MedRoom (Digi Ten)
Notice that Distortions from Sao Paulo-based studio Among Giants won the Best Brazilian Game Award and the People’s Choice award, and they should have won “BEST ENTRANCE” if such an award existed, because they made by far the best entrance when receiving a prize. As winner of Best Brazilian Game they also won a spot in the Indie Prize Showcase along with accommodations at Casual Connect USA 2018 – part of Casual Connect’s collaboration with BIG Festival.
Very Southern Hospitality
The event logistics of the event were top notch and everyone in the staff was kind and helpful – people from Brazil know how to make their guests feel at home and take care of every detail. With more and more game developers emerging from Latin America, a clear rise in product quality, steady market growth, and more local governments willing to seed the games industry, this event was a great opportunity for the people who wanted to know more about the business opportunities in Latin America.
I hope to see you next year at BIG Festival – though I also leave you with a warning: Be prepared for caipirinhas.
Hernan Lopez is the Casual Connect Goodwill Ambassador in LATAM, as well as a speaker, board member of ADVA, game designer, and co-founder of Epic Llama Games, a company focused on the casual games market established in 2008. You can find him on LinkedIn.