Games Fleadh 2015: What to Expect from Ireland's Premier Gaming Expo

While nowhere near the grandeur of gaming in America and Japan (or even the UK), Ireland does have a growing interest and investment in the industry.

In light of this, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be covering one of Ireland’s biggest gaming events: the digital games programming festival Games Fleadh. Now in its 12th year, the event will place on the March 11 at LIT Tipperary. For those not familiar with the Irish language, the word “Fleadh” translates directly to feast, and indeed there will be quite a selection of treats for attendees to devour on.

The event’s main sponsors are Microsoft and EA, and their presence is emphasised by some of the presentations taking place. Brian Neider, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the EA Games Label, will be holding keynotes, as will Stephen Howel, the academic manager for Microsoft Ireland.

Veteran game designer Brenda Romero will also be speaking at the event via video conference. For those unfamiliar with her work, Romero is an award-winning game designer, artist, writer, and creative director who entered the industry in 1981 at the tender age of 15. On a side note, she’s married to industry veteran John Romero.

The husband and wife duo worked together on social network game Ravenwood Fair.

As well as the above, several doctoral researchers will speak about some contemporary video game related ideas. Ronan Lynch will discuss the creation of Plunkett’s Pages, a game which provides a means to learn about the 1916 Easter Rising (a major event in Irish history). James Broderick will expand on the idea of bringing games out of gaming, and how they could be used in academic and industrial settings. Paul Keating will explore what it would be like if the games industry actively sought to address social injustice. Farmville tackling world hunger?

There’ll also be a programming competition in the form of a game called RoboCode. This game teaches Java by allowing players to program robot tanks to do battle against one another. But, before you start getting excited about tanks doing battle in villages and towns, these are just graphical representations – not the real thing. Nevertheless, it is an interesting game in which all the work takes place prior to the fight: no manual controls are in place during battle. The creators must look on, and see if their single Java file is flawless enough to lead their tank to victory.

Another competition taking place will be the Game Studio Ireland Challenge Cup, a competition which involves making a game around a specific theme. By working with both Brenda and John Romero, the theme for 2015 was decided to be endless runner, so think of The contest will involve a coming together of educational institutions from around Ireland. The winners and runners up will have the opportunity to present their entries to the Romero’s, and the US Santa Cruz green light committee. Hopefully this prize will entice some innovative entries.

For those interested in the convention, you can make your way to LIT Thurles for March 11. Entry to the event is free for the public, but you should arrive early to avoid disappointment. For more information you can go to the convention’s official website, or follow @GamesFleadh on Twitter. We’ll also have coverage from the event right here on Power Up Gaming.

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