Maybe you’ve seen the VideoBrains news, and maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t, then I’m sorry to break it to you but Videobrains as you know it — the monthly event we organise on the last week of every month — that’s ceasing to exist in September. Grant Howitt will be our last resident speaker.
There’s no big reason behind the change. In September I’ll have put on an event every single month for 3 years, with a couple of extra evenings to tie in with events like 9Worlds, or to try and decentralise games and take place in places like Nottingham.
Honestly, I’m just tired. The Patreon backing and ticket sales have been steady throughout, and as I negotiated the move to our new venue — The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker near Angel, tell your friends — I realised quite how much of a toll it was all taking. I’m worn-out from organising, and the added pressure of expectation from an event that’s been running three years is starting to take its toll not just on me, but on everyone involved with it. This is perhaps the fate of every small games event that doesn’t make any / much money, and I had a sit down with someone 18 months ago who told me that I should have an escape plan. At the time I laughed him off, but now, as we move towards wrapping the event up, I get where he was coming from now.
Anyway, I think this is a good thing, although I’m going to miss hanging out with 40 friends once a month. I’d like to leave you guys with a few bits. It’s poorly written and editing in places because a crucial part of the decision to wrap VideoBrains up is no one has time to run it anymore, and this refers to self-congratulatory blog posts too.
VideoBrains isn’t gone forever
We won’t be doing monthly VideoBrains anymore. It’s too much work. However, if you’ve got a games event and you want VideoBrains to be there, email me on Jake@VideoBrains.co.uk and we can make this work out for you. We’re not going away, we’re just taking a rest.
For a fee, negotiable dependent on the size of your event, we’ve got the experience to deliver a solid track of talks. We wouldn’t have lasted three years if we didn’t.
It was a team effort
The best thing to come out of VideoBrains is some of the friendships I’ve made, and it’s no surprise that my producer Thryn Henderson is also my best friend now. Rosa Carbo-Mascarell is our social manager, and is one of the most talented and friendly people I’ve ever met. Oliver Kill is a great guy too, but did once send an email to someone we were partnering with telling them “If you have any questions, please don’t email me or Jake.” Months later it is still funny.
They’re the guys that help me get this made, and without them I would have quit this a year ago.
I also owe a debt to Hannah Dwan, Alan Williamson, Ben Barrett and Will Blackstock, who’ve previously given a lot of their time and energy to VideoBrains when it was still a fledgling event.
We didn’t achieve everything we wanted to, but that’s okay
When I first started VideoBrains, I wanted to change the world. I was tired of every event being overly professional, having expensive tickets, or having an unspoken clique. I wanted a place that everyone could feel welcome. and most of all I wanted to find a lot of incredibly talented speakers that weren’t white dudes, and put them on a stage.
We were moderately successful, I think. For most of our events, we had a 50/50 gender ratio on our speakers, and we reached out to many people to try and find great female speakers. This leads in to a recommendation:
Hire more female speakers
It’d be unprofessional of me to name any specific event, but it’s 2017 and several events with much bigger budgets than ours are still putting out all-male or mostly male lineups.
It’s really easy. Just reach out to people in the field and offer to pay their travel and accommodation. Sure, it’s more financially taxing than just inviting companies to send their top-level execs and letting them pay for themselves, but the entire industry is better for it.
To help, here is every female speaker we’ve ever had, and you can click on most names to see a talk they’ve given at VideoBrains. They’re all fantastic. Many are UK based, and those that aren’t are good enough that you should fly them to where you want them.
Meg Jayanth, Philippa Warr, Laura K Dale, Jenni Goodchild, Alex Roberts, Mary Hamilton, Helen Gould , Florence Minuzzi, Emma Sinclair, Charlotte Roach, Hannah Nicklin, Hannah Bunce, Holly Gramazio, Jazz Mickle, Clare Jones, Alice Bell, Mink Ette, Thryn Henderson, Jordan Erica Webber, Adriel Wallick, Zoe Williamson, Lucie Prunier, Ashley ML Brown, Emma Boyle, Olivia Wood, Siobhan Gibson, Alex Davis, Cassandra Khaw, Hana Lee, Natalie Clayton, Hannah Dwan, Kat Brewster, Emily R Marlow, Lydia Nicholas, Anna Turner, Maize Wallins, Phoenix Perry, Becky Jowsey.
We’ve got a few more videos to come, and this list will be updated. However, if there’s anything we were really guilty of, it’s of using good female speakers repeatedly because finding women to speak was a struggle for us at times. We should have done better, and it’s a regret we all have, so learn from us and reach further afield for speakers. Again, your event will be better for it.
Kill your Q&A
There are three types of questions after every talk. Every question falls into the three categories:
A) I want to give my own opinion on this talk so the room can hear me, but I wasn’t invited to talk here so I’ll just ask it here and then at the end of it add a question mark at the end so everyone has to listen to what I’m saying?
B) I think I know more about you than this, and so I’m going to try and catch you out to make me look good and you to look silly.
C) I’ve got a really technical point to clarify from your talk, and this would be better served as a follow-up email later but here we go i’m asking it WOOOOOOOOO.
None of these benefit anyone except the people asking them. Stop taking questions at events. It’s easy to do, you just stop asking for them.
We’ll be doing a final, commemorative Zine, and a couple of t-shirts too
The first t-shirt will be on sale in a week or so, and the second will follow. The Zine though, we’d love to get photos from the event, or your thoughts from the event so we can immortalise them forever in pages. Email stuff to Jake@VideoBrains.co.uk and put “FINAL ZINE” in the subject line.
You’ve all been great.
Every speaker, every attendee and everyone that’s reached out to me in commiseration since we’ve announced we’re ceasing the monthly events: you’re all the reason we did this. If you’ve retweeted one of our tweets or shared a video, you’re all part of the reason we could keep doing rad bullshit for so long. Thank you.
We’d love to help other smaller projects get off the ground. If you’re trying to make a successor, or you want to make your own small event a reality, we can probably help you out some with advice. Just reach out.