Technically Philly: Gameloop Unconference Comes to Philly

Attendees congregated in the lobby to mingle and network before Gameloop began.
Attendees congregated in the lobby to mingle and network before Gameloop began.

San Francisco. Austin. Seattle. These are the types of cities that are generally associated with game development in the United States. Unfortunately, Philadelphia isn’t widely considered part of this elite group, but local game developers are trying to combat that stigma.

On Saturday, May 21, over 80 game developers, designers and programmers gathered at the Corzo Center at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia for GameLoop Philly. The convention, which organizers are aiming to make an annual event, is based on the success of GameLoop Boston, which began in 2008.

“Philly was the next natural choice. The founders in Boston knew a lot of people here and know the game development community here is starting to get some footing,” said Ray Merkler, an independent game developer in Philadelphia who was one of the events co-organizers.

Attendees at GameLoop Philly want to strengthen an already tightknit community of developers in the region while bringing in an outside perspective, with attendees also coming from Boston, Baltimore and New York.

Two of GameLoop's Organizers Ray Merkler and Nicole Kline discuss possible topics.

“We all know each other really well here in Philly,” said Grant Shonkwiler, former lead game designer at Megatouch games in Bristol. “The idea is to bring people who are not part of our group of 50 or 60 together.”

The convention is loosely structured, a credit to the easy familiarity of its participants. Scheduling is self-perpetuated with attendees voting on what discussions they want to have during the daylong event. Topic discussions ranged from the serious (3D environment design) to the humorous (Rapture-Not Bioshock). The result was a blend of thoughtful discussion, creative brainstorming and some good-natured jesting.

“Video game development in Philly is still fledgling,” said Merkler, “We’re very young so getting all this new talent in this new place can really motivate people to crank.”

More information on the Philadelphia game scene can be found at



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