GDC 2018

This past week at GDC has been truly amazing. I have met a lot of new people as well as getting to experience new things with good friends. When I was packing up my stuff to leave on Friday, I had a touch of sadness in my heart that it was over, but a fiery passion to apply the new things that I have learned.

I went to GDC with the Summits + Conference pass, and it was totally worth the extra bucks for what I got out of it. At every talk I went to, I met at least two new people with common interests. With the number of talks that I went to, I met a lot of people.

On top of the talks, I went to as many round table sessions as I possibly could, especially the tools and automation ones. Having been exposed to a lot of new concepts with tools and automation, I think that may very well be what I want to do with my career in game development. Don’t get me wrong, I love making games and doing things like gameplay programming and design, but there is something so satisfying to me about how I can optimize the workflows of brilliant and talented people.

I already have made things like automatic bug reporters and build automators, so going to GDC and meeting people like [The Toolsmiths] has really set it out for me.

Challenges of GDC

I didn’t struggle with a lot of things in GDC, but there were a couple notable
points that I think can be improved upon not only by the conference, but in the industry as a whole.

Being a student is hard at GDC. That is just the plain truth. It can be very difficult to feel like you belong in a place filled with the most talented people in the industry while you are just beginning. However, that’s not the main problem for students in my opinion. Before I came to GDC I was avidly warned not to tell people that I was a student. This was because most of the people just assume that you are only there to find a job, and that you have no knowledge to share. I feel like this is not only very unwelcoming, but also a great way to turn new people away from our industry in general.

I think the root of this problem partially stems from how quickly the upper education system has changed in the past couple of years. Colleges and Universities that specialized in games did not exist just a short couple of years ago, and it is fair to be weary and judgmental of the students coming out of them. However, I do understand why students have this kind of stigma around them. During my time there I witnessed some students who just seemed uneducated that this event is not really about getting a job, but making new connections and learning from our peers in the industry.

The next thing that I think a lot of people would agree on is that GDC needs to decrease the cost of going there. I think that the passes are way too expensive, especially considering how many people end up going to the event. And not just the passes themselves, San Francisco is a very expensive city to stay in for a week, especially the area that GDC is located in. I think that moving GDC to a different area that is more accessible and less expensive would be the right choice. I doubt that is going to happen though.

Positives

Roundtables

The roundtables that I went to were by far my favorite thing about GDC this year. In particular I really enjoyed the Technical Tools sessions not only because of the topics, but because of the community around them. I found out that a ton of people have started to pick up the ELK stack as a way to do error reporting and build logs, which I really support. Another reason that I really liked the roundtables is because they were a nice break from just sitting and watching a talk. I loved all the talks that I went to, but it was nice to have something interactive throughout the day to shake things up a bit. Furthermore, because the roundtables were set out in a way that it “Tools Day 1”, “Tools Day 2”, etc. it meant that a lot of the same crowd was going to the same roundtables. This let me meet people and continue talking with them the next day, and build better relationships.

Talking with speakers

This may be obvious, but being able to go up and talk to the people about their talks afterwards was a favorite things that I did while at GDC. I really loved continuing the conversation afterwards.

Parties

I feel like I can’t do a write up about my GDC without touching the party aspect. There were so many opportunities at GDC to meet new people, but parties were nice because everyone there just wanted to hang out and have fun!

Author: Ben Hoffman

RIT Game Design and Development student