GDC 2010 was by far the best GDC I have attended. I went to some fantastic sessions that will be useful to me professionally as well as my company, met so many great new people, reconnected with others, and met long time acquaintances for the first time. I had so many interesting conversations and felt like I really connected with people professionally and personally. The parties I went to were, for the most part, completely awesome. I had a wonderful volunteer experience as well. Regretfully, I didn’t have enough time to meet up with everyone I wanted to meet up with, so I hope there will be another opportunity in the future. The Game Developers Conference was definitely the highlight of my year so far.
A few quick-fire highlights of the event for me, personally:
- Had another great experience volunteering as a Conference Associate, perhaps my favourite GDC as a CA so far, simply because I was a lot more proactive about talking to new people. This attitude made a big difference in my experience.
- Had a lot of really good conversations with women about sexism in games and in the industry. These conversations were interesting and in a way good, as it was nice to hear that so many other women have similar perspectives as I do. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my perspectives, specifically, are appreciated and shared by other women in the industry. I didn’t realise that my comments on mailing lists and so forth had been noteworthy.
- Quite a few women and men approached me for advice about getting into the games industry and what it is like to work in the industry. It was great to be able to share my thoughts and experiences with them. I hope I was able to help them get a better idea of what it’s like to work in gaming, though I did let them know that I couldn’t speak to the daily work of specific fields except my own. Having said that, most of them were quite interested in learning what it’s like to work in community management on a daily basis.
- The 1UP party. I met Tracey John, who is quite fabulous, and Chris Plante, who is also fabulous.
- Dinner with a bunch of community managers. It’s really great to be able to share experiences with other community managers and just get together to socialise.
- The British indie game developers meetup. Saw Alice Taylor again (and on and off throughout the week), gave her a “Hello” and a hug, and had a great conversation with a couple of British indie developers.
- The Women in Games International mixer. Nice party, decent conversation, got to play some Band Hero, and speak to a Guild Wars fan who is an aspiring industry professional. Also wandered around San Francisco in search of another party with said fan and her friend, which was cool.
- IGDA Women in Games SIG afternoon social. Had a lot of terrific conversations here with other industry women. Discussed not only gender issues and games, but also race and games with an aspiring professional environment artist who gushed about Guild Wars: Nightfall. This event was rather awesome in terms of speaking to women with common perspectives on sexism in games.
- Attended a lot of great sessions relevant to my professional work and interests. I’m so glad I was able to go to GDC, because I have some great information to share with my company.
- Had lots of great conversations with Guild Wars fans who want to get into the industry. They have much more insight into game development than fans who aren’t aspiring developers, so it was nice to be able to have conversations with that level of understanding between us. It was also kind of cool to be recognised randomly on the streets of San Francisco and approached enthusiastically by excited fans.
- Final Fantasy XIII day time launch event. It was rather interesting to try and find the location for this event and walk there, all the way from the Moscone Centre. The event itself was full of eye candy. The highlight of it for me was being asked to go on camera to send a message to the Final Fantasy XIII developers because I’ve barely played any Final Fantasy games. I made this quite clear to the staff member, but he was keenly interested that I was a non-fan who was drawn to the game despite not having really played Final Fantasy games. I basically said something like, “I have never really played a Final Fantasy game, but I am excited about Final Fantasy XIII because it looks interesting.” And then I thanked the developers on-camera.
- Weirdly, I met two cast members of PlayStation Network’s The Tester after the Final Fantasy XIII launch event. I introduced myself as someone who watched the show, asked if they often got recognised on the street (I was the first one to recognise them), and said it was nice meeting them, and we parted ways.
- Saw Amy Henning, Creative Director at Naughty Dog, talk about the cinematic process of UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves. I was only able to stay for half of the presentation, but luckily it was the half during which she talked. She is so awesome. Unfortunately, did not get to meet her. :-(
- Saw Yoshio Sakamoto, Designer and Producer at Nintendo, talk about his game design approach. He discussed how he approached Metroid: Other M and compared and contrasted this approach to Wario Ware: DIY. His session was really inspirational and aspirational, which was quite interesting when compared to other game designers’ talks, which tended to be more grounded and predictive of future trends.
I’m not super into going to tons of parties (not that I have those kind of connections). I’m more about meeting interesting people that I can have interesting and productive conversations with, and less about getting drunk (not that I drink all that much, anyway). Having said that, I would have liked to have gone to more parties had I not been too tired at night and volunteering during the day. Volunteering requires me to get up very early each morning during the week of GDC.
So those were, briefly, the good bits of my GDC experience.
If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may write up Hennig’s and Sakamoto’s sessions.