GDC, the Game Developers Conference, is considered the second biggest games conference, next to E3 in importance and size. GDC is a meeting ground where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and all other folks involved with the development of games can gather to exchange ideas and grow as creators.
This year, I attended GDC for the first time and, as usual, have some tips and info for first time GDC attendees!
GDC is held in San Francisco, CA
Why should I go to GDC?
Two words: learning and networking.
GDC features over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and discussions. USE this as an opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. You can also learn about tools you never heard of, find out how other indie developers are getting off the ground, learn what companies are looking for in future employees and get inspired to try new things with you next game.
Be more than just a name on a resume. This is your chance to mix and mingle with people you hope to work with/for. You never know what will come out of such meetings.
Tips for networking
- Be yourself, but the most professional/fun version of yourself
- ALWAYS have a card and consider immediate LinkedIn requests
- Talk about what you are doing and the skills you have
- DON’T GET DRUNK! Free drinks or drink tickets are often present at these parties so be responsible
- Don’t bug them about a job: mention this casually at the end of the conversation. I usually go for the “if you know of anyone looking for a ___ please keep me in mind” approach
I ended up speaking with a gentleman at the Women In Games International mixer who was impressed enough with me to invite me to an invite-only networking event. I met many important people who worked on a VERY big gaming franchise and ensured that a face and background went with my resume. Not bad for “just” networking.
What should I do at GDC?
If you are looking for employment in the gaming industry, the first place you should turn is to the Career Pavilion. Make sure to have print outs of your resume. You don’t have to dress up, but you will stand out if you do (everyone else will be wearing jeans and t-shirts). Protip: there are also booths in here for meetings. If you see a company with a mini set of offices, they are probably not there to pick up your resume, so if you get embarrassed easily you might not want to just walk in there. Scope it out first though because Valve combined their booth and meeting space.
The next step should be to attend panels that can teach you something relevant about your work or your industry. As a PR person, there weren’t many panels or tutorials for me, but my friend interested in game design and becoming a tester found useful sessions that gave him some great tips and ideas.
Besides searching for work, treat yourself to the expo floor, where you can play some of the newest games, a few unreleased games and try out new equipment (I finally got my hands on a Vita).
What did you do at GDC?
Well I’m glad you asked! I had super-fun-times.
At the expo, I played some Vita games including Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. There were a lot of other games available to play, but most of them weren’t my kind of game. I also was not super-impressed with the touch capabilities of the back of the Vita. It seemed a little haphazard to me.
On the 3Ds side, I played the new Tekken and LOVED it. Some guy wanted to challenge me to beat his “unbeatable” friend so I promptly stomped him around a few times. I love promoting health egos 😉
On the unreleased game side I played Girl Fight (which I will rant about in another blog), Fingle and a game about a broom janitor ninja that I can’t remember the name of.
I also tried my hand at another few rounds of Joust, which you may remember me mentioning from my time at IndieCade.
Oh and one must not forget the swag! I collected candy, trinkets and a Darkness II statue, which I am selling because it’s too frightening to keep in my room! If you are interested in purchasing the Darkness II statue, head over to my personal blog.
As I perused the expo, I kept noticing people with stickers on their badges. I later discovered that they were playing the Meta Game and I proceeded to acquire my pack of cards and play.
Check out this game if you want to improve your persuasive skills and in general if you enjoy talking shop about games.
In general, GDC was a great investment and I look forward to seeing everyone I met there again at E3! One last tip: if you want to buy the GDC swag but can’t afford it, take a chance at waiting until the last few hours of the last day of GDC. Everything was half off! But of course, some items were already sold-out.
Do yourself a favor and plan to attend next year’s GDC!
To find out what else I experienced, check out my Nerdy But Flirty post about the parties and people I met!