Sandbox, an ACM SIGGRAPH Video Game Symposium, was successfully held last year for the first time in co-location with ACM SIGGRAPH in Boston.
by Drew Davidson
It was a healthy start that has led to another Sandbox being held on 2007 along with ACM SIGGRAPH in San Diego.
"We are excited about how well the conference went last year," says Drew Davidson, Sandbox conference chair, "and we're already looking forward to making this year even better." Attendees showed an interest in seeing this happen again and a willingness to get involved to help make it happen.
Preparation for this first Sandbox started in January 06 and the two-day conference ran the weekend before SIGGRAPH on Saturday, 29 July 06 and Sunday, 30 July 06. There were over 200 attendees with a mix of developers, academics, artists and students, as well as people attending virtually via online Breeze streams. This diversity was also reflected in the presentations, papers, panels and posters. 20 papers were selected through peer review from around 90 submissions to form a solid track across the two days along with 5 panels, a dozen poster sessions and 2 keynotes by Greg Costikyan from Manifesto Games and Ian Shaw from Electronic Arts UK. Yotam Gingold's paper, "From Rock, Paper, Scissors to Street Fighter II: Proof by Construction," won the Best Paper Award.
Throughout the event, a carnival room hosted exhibits, poster sessions and video game tournaments. Industry support helped make this a great part of Sandbox. The highlight of the tournaments was Harmonix holding a Guitar Hero 2 tournament that was open to all attendees to play. Other tournaments that ran across the two days included: Dance Dance Revolution, Karaoke Revolution, Halo, and Retro Games. Sony Computer Entertainment donated PS2s for the tournaments and prizes were provided by X-Gaming. There was also a social card game, Pitch, that encouraged attendees to form teams and create fun game pitches.
Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a public beta of the video game Skyrates. Skyrates (rhymes with pirates) is a game design and development project experimenting with sporadic play across multiple platforms. It is an Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) student project created by four team members and the team attended Sandbox and projected a Skyrates map so attendees could keep track of the in-game world.
"AMC SIGGRAPH was proud to sponsor Sandbox," says Alyn Rockwood, Vice-President of ACM SIGGRAPH, "it has successfully broadened our horizons and we're looking forward to future cooperation in making it an annual event that can serve as a focus for video game design and development." Academic institutions also showed their support for Sandbox. The ETC at CMU, Game Design and Development at RIT, the Center on Public Diplomacy and the Annenberg School of Communications at USC, as well as Sage, publisher of the Games & Culture journal, all supported this year's Sandbox.
"Thank you to everyone who supported this event and made it such a successful one," adds Davidson, "and Sandbox wouldn't have happened without the great group of people who helped out. The strong executive committee, the reviewers, the volunteers, the presenters and the attendees all helped make it succeed and the interest and involvement already shown makes me excited for next year."
For more information on last year's Sandbox and updates on Sandbox 2007 and how to get involved, please visit: http://sandboxsymposium.org/