Callvention was initially brought to my attention as a service to investigate based on whether or not it might be trying to scam gamers. Paying on a per-minute basis, with a minimum amount of time required to be paid for, Callvention promises the opportunity to talk with actual video game developers, sound designers and concept artists, etc. Similar mentoring services, across multiple fields of industry, have in the past been questionable in terms of their legitimacy and undisclosed motivations. Besides the suspiciously familiar business model, the design of the Callvention website was seemingly not to the standards some would expect for what is being offered: making it seem to some bystanders as potentially something that was created to rip gamers off. So I went ahead and did some digging through the developers they had listed, attempting to determine the validity of this service.
While everyone listed currently on the Callvention website, as people you can talk to, did definitely work on the projects they are stated to have worked on: whether or not they agreed to this setup would be the next question to look into. Would they actually take time, out of their likely busy schedules, to talk to completely random gamers or would-be video game developers? The answer is, at least according the Studio Head of Harebrained Schemes Mitch Gitelman: yes.
Screenshot of my Twitter exchange with Mitch Gitelman in regards to Callvention
Later I got a hold of Bryan @ Callvention, who initially contacted me via twitter. I gave him my background and my reasons for wanting to investigate the website, asking him a few questions. One of these questions being why they decided to do this, and the other regarding what they plan to do going into the future:
Sounds good, I appreciate the background. We want to bring the game convention to the home and let people have a thorough conversation with someone who made a favorite game. Traditional conventions let fans get an autograph or a photo, but if you've played a game for 50+ hours, that's not going to cut it. With a call, a fan can really dive into the art and design of a game. Hence our name, Callvention. :)
I've been a gaming fan all my life and the times I've talked to a game developer in person have really impacted how I look at their games.
As for the future, we plan to continue to bring on new speakers on a weekly basis and hope to continue to increase the # of games we cover. We're also working on student discount program, which should be launching soon.
Students working towards becoming game developers would be a group of people who would probably benefit the most from something like Callvention, in fact: so to see them planning on offering student discounts in the future to be given that opportunity is awesome!
Now, this is not an endorsement of the website itself: merely this is simply the results of looking into the validity of the website and confirming whether it is a legitimate service or something meant to scam gamers out of their hard earned money. From the looks of it, everything is pointing in the direction of Callvention being a legitimate service: where if you were interested in a one-on-one talk with some people, who made some of your favorite games, you can rest assured you are getting exactly what they offer.