Marketing apprentice, photographer extraordinaire and creative whirlwind Matt Licari dives into Playcon 2023, the annual games conference that took the vibrant streets of Malta by storm. As the dust settles he shares his insights and reflections on visiting Playcon for the first time and unravels the reactions to our top-secret immersive experience.
This was my first trip to Playcon – Malta’s largest games and technology showcase – and I was doing it representing Draw & Code Labs. This is an offshoot of our main company – an EU R&D hub that is busy secretly developing our next product. Well, kinda secretly – we were at the show to perform user-testing of our mixed reality experience on the showfloor and I was enlisted to help run and photograph the stand.
I was visiting Playcon for the first time and found a warm, welcoming show with a refreshing mix of young people who are the future of our industry alongside big hitters from Europe, the UK and the US.
Playcon was a dynamic experience that involved more than just ensuring everything runs smoothly. As a key member of the team, our roles were the essence of Draw & Code’s innovative spirit, acting as a bridge between the new product we were testing and the enthusiastic attendees. Due to the experience being aimed at all ages, the challenge lay in crafting a narrative that resonated with both younger and older demographics. We had to take a similar approach to how we presented the experience to audiences, ensuring that our interactions were both engaging and age-appropriate.
Away from the stand our very own co-founder John Keefe took to the stage joining a panel, ‘Beyond Pixels’ sharing his expertise on how we navigate the future with emerging tech. This was followed by our R&D rockstar Ryan Camilleri who had a seaside chat with Playcon workshops, talking about how he got into the tech industry and where he envisions our sector will go from here. Ryan not only lives the way of the code but lives the ways of the Force he showed off his Jedi training on the last day of Playcon and attracted some cosplayers looking for a duel but it’s safe to say they were no match for his power!
Unfortunately we can’t share too much about the experience yet as it’s still in development. Even though the Magic Leap 2 headsets may look like funky sunglasses, they become our magic wands and windows into other worlds when partnered with the work of our R&D geniuses!
However, we can tell you a little about Taskmaster VR, our new VR game where you complete silly and unique tasks just like the TV series ‘Taskmaster’ that the game is based on. The game was announced the day before the start of Playcon so it was good to see some people on the show floor were amongst the 1.3m viewers of the trailer and were eager to check it out.
Shouldn’t all mysteries be a box of fun?
One key part of the stand that definitely helped draw people in was the mystery of what our stand really kept inside. We had a black box encasing the experience which was covered in Pete Fowler’s designs. One of our values is ‘constant curiosity’ and we certainly made the attendees that walked by very curious about what we were up to. Pete Fowler is an extremely talented visual artist who made our weird and wacky dream into art which alludes to what we’re all about – bringing creativity and technology together.
Playcon was a no-brainer to attend as we have Draw & Code Labs set up in Malta and we wanted to hear what the games and tech community thought of our immersive experience and to assist us by providing feedback of how they enjoyed their journey into another world. As of 2023 we have had a presence on this beautiful island for two years and it has been amazing so far. Draw & Code Labs is the research and development arm of Draw & Code also known as the R&D powerhouse home to our most top secret projects.
Playcon had our biggest team presence ever with 13 of us present at various points during the four days! To use our numbers to our advantage we had different roles covering operations, tech support, audience liaison and more. Each of the team we were given backup roles so we could help each other and pivot in the moment. This year has been really big for us but next year is going to be even bigger! As we all at Draw & Code love to portray our core values, I can confidently say that we were showing our true Pirate Energy and Charting Our Course out at Playcon showing off our most ambitious work yet.