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FounderDan Butchko
HeadquartersNew York City, Boston, San Francisco

Playcrafting is a company built on a game developer network that launched in 2009 in New York City and has since expanded across the United States. Since its early developer meet-up days, the group has grown to include brand game development, an annual indie video games awards show, and the largest game-centric expo in the state of New York.


Playcrafting began as a meetup group in 2009 called The NY Gaming Meetup.[1] Its first gathering took place on March 12, 2009, in Manhattan. In 2014, it was established as the business entity “The Games Forum” by Dan Butchko, though it is commonly known as Playcrafting.[2] Playcrafting's original goal was to connect, educate, and amplify independent game developers through events and education.[3] While the initial meetups allowed developers to share their expertise with one another, that eventually evolved into formal classes being offered through the group.[4] Playcrafting started hosting deep dives and one-night classes about the art, science, and business of game development. By 2015, the group was offering multi-week classes. The most popular class to date is its eight-week Learn Unity class. In 2016, the group decided to start an awards show focused on smaller and indie games called The Bit Awards. In 2017, Playcrafting started recruiting developers to help create gaming initiatives for brands. By mid-2017, Playcrafting had hosted a dozen seasonal maker faire-style local game expos in New York City that drew more than 2,000 people and 100 games to the area, so the group decided to invest in a single, larger annual event called Play NYC 2017.


Playcrafting regularly teams up with national brands, tapping into its nationwide network of developers, who are then paid to create custom video games tied to those brands.

  • ASUS: The first-ever ROG Republic of Gamer Game Jam brought together 20 developers from across the United States to build new dual-screen games on and for the Zephyrus Duo laptop.[5][6]
  • Bose: Developers were selected from a pool of 30,000 to create 32 games for Bose AR headphones and sunglasses. Selected devs were paid more than $400,000.[7]
  • Facebook: The Instant Games Jam delivered four games from 20 developers for Facebook's Game Developers Conference booth, which was created to highlight the company's launch of its games platform.
  • IBM: The IBM Acceleration Jam had 15 developers create three games using IBM Watson Technology. The creations debuted at Tribeca Film Festival.[8]
  • NFL: The Verizon 5G NFL Mobile Gaming Challenge asked 50,000 developers to submit pitches for games that would only be possible with 5G and which integrated the NFL brand. Five teams worked on prototypes, two of which were selected to be developed into full games for $400,000 each. The games were then debuted at the Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Fl.[9]
  • Schick date=December 2020 Twenty game developers from 10 studios created four video games for Schick Hydro that were debuted at the 2017 Game Awards in L.A.[10] In 2020, Playcrafting worked with Schick Extreme to create Shave the Day, a mobile game that fundraises for St. Baldrick's Foundation. The game has resulted in more than $91,000 in donations so far.[11]
  • Verizon: Developers earned more than $100,000 creating games used to illustrate the impact 5G has on multiplayer, AR, and console-quality games for mobile devices.[12]

The Bit Awards

The Bit Awards is an annual awards show hosted by Playcrafting that includes live performances, special guests, game trailers, and interactive games.[13] The first one was held in 2016 in New York City. Categories include various games of the year and Rising Pixel Awards for game creators in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. Each year also honors one Game Changer. Previous Game Changer award honorees include Jen MacLean, Warren Spector, and Ted Price.[14]

The Game Changer Award

  • 2017: Ted Price
  • 2018: Warren Spector
  • 2019: Jen Maclean

Game of the Year

  • 2016: Mushroom 11
  • 2017: 1979 Revolution: Black Friday
  • 2018: Perception
  • 2019: Swimsanity!

Mobile Game of the Year

  • 2016: Food Conga
  • 2017: Cognition
  • 2018: Calculator: The Game
  • 2019: Into The Dark: Narakan

Table Top Game of the Year

  • 2016: The Depths of Durangrar
  • 2017: Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea
  • 2018: University of Dope
  • 2019: Gladius

Best Student Game

  • 2016: It Happened in Outer Space
  • 2017: Afterward
  • 2018: Sumer
  • 2019: King of the Hat

Rising Pixel Award Winners

  • 2016: Kurt Bieg - Simple Machine
  • 2017: Kurt Bieg - Simple Machine
  • 2018: Sorob Raissi, Ryan Canuel, MaryMartha Ford-Dieng
  • 2019: Don Bellenger, Caroline Murphy, Sam Eng

Best Style

  • 2017: Peter Panic!
  • 2019: Hamsterdam

Best XR Game

  • 2017: SwingStar VR
  • 2019: The Take

The Players Choice Award

  • 2018: The Ultimate Clapback
  • 2019: Swimsanity

Best Audio

  • 2016: Two Dots

Best Visuals

  • 2016: Shardlight

Best Gameplay

  • 2016: Smove

Global Game Jam

Playcrafting's annual participation in the Global Game Jam started in 2016. By 2020, it had grown to become the largest in North America and second largest in the world, with 778 participants building 93 games in 48 hours for the 2020 event.[15]

Play NYC

The annual expo, which started in 2017, is the largest multi-day game convention in New York. The event includes playable games, live talks, demos, panels, and a show floor. The 2019 event drew more than 5,000 people and 150 games to a two-day event held in the Metropolitan Pavilion. The 2020 event, like many in the year, went online only and was held across a full week. It was sponsored by Epic Games, Genvid Technologies, Rockstar Games, and Verizon and included the support of the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.[16][17][18]

  • 2017

About 5,000 people attended the first Play NYC event, which was held at the Terminal 5 concert venue in New York City and ran on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20.[19] The streams for the event saw about 80,000 views.[20]

  • 2018

The second annual event was held at the historic Hammerstein Ballroom inside the Manhattan Center and ran on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12. About sssss.[18]

  • 2019

The third annual Play NYC event ran on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Aboutssss [21]

  • 2020

The fourth annual Play NYC event shifted to an online-only conference due to the spread of Covid-19.[22]

Graffiti Games

Presented as part of the annual Play NYC expo, the Graffiti initiative was created to celebrate the diversity of the gaming industry. Installations have featured first-generation immigrant developers, the LGBTQ community in gaming, and Black game developers.[23][24]

  • 2020

Sheep Herder Nay - Developed Andrew Augustin
To Be With You - Developed by Cara Hillstock
Oni Fighter Yasuke - Developed by Derrick Fields
Love Self - Developed by Missy
Hello Lantern - Developed by Ricardo Lee

  • 2019

Smush Bois - Developed by Blake Andrews, creator of Glorious Trainwrecks
Hello, It's Still Me - Developed by Rogue Fong, an interactive narratives designer
Rebel Runners - Developed by designer Geneva Heyward
Staring Can Be a Form of Harassment - Developed by programmer Ayla Myers
Insufficient Adjectives - Developed by Dean Razavi, who also created Vidar

  • 2018

Home Stretch - Developed by Prashast Thapan
A Hero's Journey - Developed by Kurt Young
The Llama Express - Developed by Pilar Aranda Bada and Saúl Peña Gamero
127 BPM - Developed by Yuxin Gao and John Bruneau
Recreo - Developed by Jose Zambrano
Bizarre Barber - Developed by Maria Mishurenko and Gordey Chernyy

  • 2017

Salmon Roll - Developed by Andy Wallace and Jane Friedhoff
Star Catcher VR - Developed by Adele Lin and Matt Pinner
Forest Cup - Developed by Ivan Safrin
Brenda Lee Baker - Developed by Jenny Jiao Hsia


Playcrafting hosts a number of classes that focus on teaching all levels of game development.[25]


  1. "NY Gaming Meetup this week: Getting PR for Your Game". Meetup.
  2. Tamayo, Paul. "One Man's Attempt To Make It Easier To Learn How To Make Video Games". Kotaku.
  3. Presser, Rachel. "What Indie Devs Get Wrong About Professional Networking". Gamasutra.
  4. Gladstone, Neil. "Programming New York for Video Game Development". The New York Times.
  6. "The ROG Game Jam". ROG.Asus.
  7. Crecente, Brian. "Bose's AR Frames get a narrative gaming boost from the team behind That Dragon, Cancer". VentureBeat.
  9. "Verizon and NFL give 2 game devs $400,000 each to launch 5G games Super Bowl". Venturebeat.
  10. "Schick® Hydro® Champions The Independent Gaming Community And Its Commitment To Fostering Innovation". PR Newswire.
  11. Partleton, Kayleigh. "Playcrafting teams up with Schick Xtreme for charity mobile game". Pocket Gamer.
  12. "Verizon has partnered with the NFL to re-think mobile gaming". Verizon.
  13. "Card game created by Pittsburgh native is nominated for developer's award". PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.
  14. "The Bit Awards past winners". The Bit Awards.
  15. "Playcrafting + Microsoft (NYC)". Global Game Jam.
  16. "Revving up a new, multi-year sales and sponsorship link for Manhattan Center conference". C-MW.
  17. Sheehan, Gavin. "NYC Play Reveals The 2020 Event Will Be Held Online". Bleeding Cool.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Inside Play NYC, New York's largest video game convention". Metro.
  19. Crecente, Brian. "Play NYC joins Tribeca Games and NY Comic Con as NYC's game expos expand". Polygon.
  20. Young, John. "Play NYC Signs Three-year Deal with Manhattan Center". Manhattan Center.
  21. Lanier, Liz. "Play NYC Bringing Game Debuts, Bose AR-cade to Public in August". Variety.
  22. Adams, Robert. "Play NYC 2020 Will Be A Free Online-Only Show". TechRaptor.
  23. Lanier, Liz. "Play NYC Will Feature Games From First-Generation Immigrant Developers". Variety.
  25. "Announcing $5,000 in scholarships to Playcrafting's game design courses in NYC". Games For Change.

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