LONDON — Industry advocate Kevin Williams has been invited to deliver presentations at several imminent entertainment and trade conferences in Europe. Williams, who is managing director of the consultancy group KWP Ltd. and editor of “The Stinger Report,” was also commissioned by two prestigious journals to write a series of articles about out-of-home entertainment and the arcade industry. In his publishing and speaking engagements, the industry activist champions the vital role that traditional amusements will play in the future of public-space entertainment.
The Edinburgh Interactive Festival, now in its sixth year, leads off Williams’ upcoming speaking engagements. He is the first member of the coin-op amusement industry invited to speak at the festival, where he will talk about video amusements and attractions, and the industry’s influence on UK gaming culture.
Widely regarded as one of the most significant creative conferences for games and interactive entertainment, EIF 2008 takes place from August 10 to 12 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The three-day festival will also feature networking events, an expanded “games screenings” program and a public exhibit. Williams’ presentation, titled “Arcade Amusements Get Wired,” is scheduled for Monday, August 11.
At this year’s Leisure Industry Week at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, Williams will chart the history of and new developments in interactive attractions. He will share his expertise in a seminar titled “Interactive Attractions – The Development of New Systems for Repeat Visitation and More Immersion.” In the session, he will be joined by several other industry experts who will offer a timely look at what type of attractions are drawing visitors.
Marking its 20th year as the essential UK exhibition for the family and leisure attractions, fitness, health and sports, LIW will be staged from September 23 to 25 and is expected to draw record crowds. Last year’s event attracted more than 14,100 visitors and 450 exhibitors. This year also marks Williams’ fourth time as an LIW presenter
At Interschau-Technofolies 2008 in Stuttgart, Germany, Williams will moderate a panel discussion titled “Operators and Investors Debate,” which is part of a new two-day conference program called “The Big Debate.” For his part, Williams will referee what is expected to be an informative and lively dialogue that will attempt to identify solutions for problems affecting all sectors of the amusement industry.
The conference will be held on October 28 and 29 at the new Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre, which is conveniently located next to Stuttgart Airport and reportedly one of the most modern trade fair centers in Europe. Williams will conduct the debate on the second day. The exhibition portion of Interschau-Technofolies runs from October 29 to 31.
Interschau-Technofolies was created last year by merging the two leading trade fairs for leisure parks, amusements and showmen: “Interschau” in Germany and “Technofolies” in Italy. It is backed by the European Showmen’s Union, the Amusement Industry Council of Europe (AiCE), the Federal Association of German Showmen (DSB) and the Italian association Anesv-Agis. The first combined event in Genoa, Italy, in October 2007 was hailed an international success, attracting more than 30% of its visitors from outside Italy. This fall, organizers expect 150 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors to participate.
Complementing his speaking appearances, Williams has made prominent feature story contributions to some well-known publications. He also wrote the forward for a new book on Japanese amusement gaming culture.
In Play Magazine, Williams’ “Living Death” report offers in-depth commentary on the death and rebirth of the international arcade scene. The article illustrates new developments shaping resurgent interest in the amusement industry. Play Magazine focuses on all entertainment genres and age demographics, with an emphasis on videogames and anime.
Casual Connect, the publication of the Casual Games Association, is also publishing a feature by Williams. “Pay-for-Play Is Where the Action Is” expounds on new opportunities in the out-of-home casual gaming field. The article is the magazine’s first from a member of the amusements and attractions sector, and explains the similarities between casual gaming and traditional amusements. The publication is said to be a central educational tool for developers and investors in the burgeoning casual gaming market.
In the new book Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers (Kodansha International, Tokyo, 192 pages), Williams wrote the forward in which he reviews the paperback’s material and places it into context within the modern amusement scene.
“This was an immense honor,” Williams said. “This book makes the most profound observation of the trends and factors that shape the Asian amusement scene, looking at the cultural dimension and the aspects of specific game trends that have seen Japanese arcades survive much of current international market turbulence.”
Coauthored by Brian Ashcraft and Jean Snow, Arcade Mania is the first major book published on the Japanese amusement industry, covering topics ranging from Bemani (Konami’s music videogame division) and cranes to the peculiar games found only in Japan. It introduces readers to the fascinating world of the Japanese gemu senta (game center). Organized as a guided tour of a typical game center, and packed with photos, game graphics and interviews, the book is divided into nine chapters, each of which deals with a different kind of game.
Arcade Mania goes on sale in Japan in August. The worldwide English version will be released in December.
Separately, KWP’s “The Stinger Report” online newsletter is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Since its founding, the “Stinger” has widened its coverage to include such new concepts as “VenderTainment” and “EduTainment,” along with topics on casual gaming and hospitality. According to Williams, these new areas have a profound connection to traditional amusements and attractions.