Gaming is getting more serious these days, and the organizers of the sixth annual East Coast Game Conference have planned next week’s two days of workshops, speakers, expos and events to prove it.

Serious gaming, or gaming used for training, strategy, education, government, defense, health and more, is woven throughout conference tracks that range from production, narrative and art to programming, design and gaming technologies. Organizers Troy Knight of the Raleigh creative agency BLDG 25 and Walter Rotenberry of Wake Tech’s computer science department hope this year’s event is appealing to corporations interested in training employees or customers using games; to startups incorporating gaming into their products; to fun gamers looking at broader corporate applications for their talents and jobseekers and students looking to enter the field. They expect more than 1,000 attendees this year, and they’re coming from around the nation.

As a preview for the event, happening next Wednesday and Thursday at the Raleigh Convention Center, ExitEvent writer Jivan Achreja and I have compiled a list of reasons why this year’s ECGC is worth attending, whether you’re a gamer, game developer or neither.

Here goes:

Understanding of game theory and gamification is becoming increasingly critical to business and entrepreneurs. “How do I make my business/experience/product more “sellable”?” is a question everyone in business struggles with, and games are one way to add interest to your product or site and motivate customers to keep buying or visiting.

Serious games are on the rise. At PARADOXOS last week, IBM’s Phaedra Boinodiris shared how her Global Serious Games team has created games to aid the U.S. Defense department or to improve business processes within the company. She’s back at ECGC to share more learnings and insights. The VA Medical Center will also share how it is using simulation too. And Knight expects there to be accountants, real estate professionals and other nontraditional gaming types in the audience to share how they’re using gamification in business.

The ECGC is a showcase for the gaming talent in the Triangle community. AAA (Triple A) publishers Insomniac Games and Epic Games have their home bases here. Minneapolis-based Atomic Games, Oslo-based Funcom, Ubisoft (the Red Storm Entertainment division) and a few other huge notable studios also have a presence. There are also the startups that were incubated at Joystick Labs, and the serious game developer Relevant Games (which recently released its multi-player game Evil Genius). The premier magazine for the gaming industry, The Escapist, was founded here and holds its annual expo in Durham. There’s clearly a ton of talent, and this would be a great place to find your next designer, developer, animator or simulator.

You can also learn how to join that impressive group. In a Career Lounge, jobseekers can have industry professionals critique their portfolio. And there will be roundtable discussions about working in the industry.

The International Game Developers Association is a partner, which means access to the 15,000 paying members of a well-regarded industry organization as well as promotion and attention from that group.

Learn all about new technology involved in Epic’s Unreal 4 Wednesday and on Thursday, find out why North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue is so interested in gaming. She’ll hold a panel discussion with gaming studio directors to talk about gaming in schools.

The Raleigh conference has become a key stop for top speakers in the gaming industry. Ken Rolston, the director of design at Warner Brothers, and Mary deMarie of Eidos Montreal, a key female executive (a first for the conference) in the field, will keynote the conference. Speakers come from all of the local gaming companies, as well as Amazon, EA Sports, IBM and Sony.

Good writing is an essential skill, period. Selling a business is akin to telling a good story. The better the story, the more likely you are to succeed at convincing someone to believe in what you are doing. Learning to better your own writing skills through learning from (and leveraging) existing popular works would be a brilliant skill to pick up. The narrative track will help you do that.

Attending the conference? Please tell us what you think. Email with any feedback next week.