One of the cooler sessions (to me) at Gamefest 2008 was delivered by Steve Jackson from XNA Live Server. (No relation to the game company Steve Jackson in Austin of GURPS and Paranoia fame that I know of.) It was titled SQL – The Next Great Gaming Platform, which is what caught my attention. Although I'm not a fan of Itzik Ben Gan's sudoko-in-sql puzzles and logic games of that nature, I figured that's what Steve was going to talk about. (Personally, I like my games with BIG EXPLOSIONS in 3D and cool music.) I didn't have high hopes for the kinds of games that run in SQL Server, but out of sheer curiosity I made room in my full conference schedule to go. And I was very surprised.
The session Steve gave was a good introduction (as much as you can get in an hour) to using SQL Server as a back end for Xbox and PC games ranging from MMORPGs to racing games to casual games built in Popfly... The message was simple: You guys are good at making great games, so focus on that and don't try to reinvent the wheel -- use an established RDBMS that somebody else who is good at it has built already.