The IGDA was initially established by Ernest Adams in 1994, first operating under the name Computer Game Developers Association.
There were several reasons for starting the CDGA, primarily that game developers had no one to speak for them in the debates taking place in the U.S. Congress in early 1994. The publishers had the IDSA (later the ESA) but individual developers had no clear voice. People in the game industry wanted to join some kind of group yet there was nothing to join, thus it became clear that a true professional association was needed to give developers a voice.
Another key reason was simply that it was long overdue for a professional association to exist to advance the state of the art of game development and support game developers as professional associations are designed to do. The community needed a way to share experience and work together on issues on an ongoing basis.
The CGDA came into being just as the old, previously privately owned, Computer Game Developers Conference was being sold to Miller Freeman (later CMP, then Think Services, and now UBM TechWeb). Miller Freeman and the CGDA continued to collaborate on the conference while Miller Freeman provided initial support for the CGDA.
In 1999, the CGDA was having a tough time with maintaining the required volunteer labor to run the organization, thus the board of directors turned to Miller Freeman to contract the company for management services. Around the same time, the CGDA officially changed its name to the International Game Developers Association to better reflect its growing global scope and platform agnosticism. The IGDA continued to contract with CMP for day-to-day operation/management services until the end of 2004. The IGDA directly ran the day-to-day operations of the association under the governance of the elected board of directors, and in 2008 contracted with Talley Management Group for logistical and accounting services to support the organization’s operations.
The Escapist covered the IGDA back story in more detail in an article titled "Let's Get Together", written by Erin Hoffman on 2 October, 2007.
As of 2018, and following a transition period from Talley Management Group, Redstone Agency has been contracted as the IGDA partner for association management services.
1994-2000 Jennifer Pahlka
2000-2009 Jason Della Rocca
2009-2010 Joshua Caulfield
2010-2012 Gordon Bellamy
2012-2017 Kate Edwards
2017-present Jen MacLeanmore » « less