This Fall game developers in the Chicago area will have a brand new service to help share and get feedback on their latest titles. ChiDevDate is a matchmaking service that’s aiming to build a sense of community among Chicago game developers of all ranks and help them find the kind of feedback they need to get their projects out the door.

ChiDevDate was launched by Jake Elliot and Phil Tibitoski, who are both developers at young Chicago game studios (Cardboard Computer and Young Horses, respectively) and members of Indie City Games, which hosts public meetups where studios can showcase their in-development games. The pair arrived at the idea of facilitating private, one-on-one meetups between developers after Tibitoski had a constructive meeting with another game studio over Young Horses’ latest title, Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

“Feedback was more focused and hands-on,” said Elliot. “They could share things that they weren’t necessarily comfortable revealing to the public yet, and they had a chance to really prepare themselves to give feedback by getting deeply familiar with the other team’s work beforehand.”

Over the next few months ChiDevDate will take requests for meetups and pair studios or individual developers with one another at random, but still weighted in consideration for availability. Elliot pointed out that developers of all levels are welcome to sign up as long as they have a valid project to be critiqued. “It’s deliberately very open,” he said. “Amateurs and professionals maybe have different goals at times but they have a lot to share with one another.”

The meetups won’t start taking place until November, but Elliot said they already have about a dozen studios and individuals signed up. As the program goes forward, ChiDevDate will make sure that developers get a fresh pairing each time, and will continue to tweak the meetup service based on feedback from participants. “We’re keeping an open mind,” Elliot said. “Everything is an experiment!”

In the future Elliot hopes that the program will help to bring shape to the currently disparate community of Chicago developers. “Chicago independent game developers are struggling a bit lately to cohere into a community, but projects like Indie City Games have helped a lot,” said Elliot. “We’re hoping ChiDevDate can also cultivate new connections and build a sense of community here.”

Slide image credit: Indie City Games

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