Friday, March 12, 2010

I hate not being at GDC

The game developer's conference is going on RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT in San Francisco and I'm not there.

And I hate that I'm not there.

When I first started in games, I asked my employers to send me to the show (as many other companies do) and I was told by my bosses that "GDC is just a place for people who are out of work to go to distribute their resumes." I believed this nonsense for many years. Then one year, Capcom Studio 8 head Dave Siller recommended that I attend. He was very positive about the conference and knew it would be good for me.

(Thanks Dave)

And he was right.

While GDC is a really good place to distribute your resume (and check out the latest tech and see some really great student and independent games), the GDC at it's best is a way to hear some of the most important thinkers and creators in the industry talk about how they work, how they think, their mistakes and their successes. It's very inspirational and informative. Even the bad lectures (though you shouldn't feel compelled to stay through the whole talk if it's not helping you - there are too many other ones going on at the same time) can be educational as they provide great food for thought and conversation.

The conversations. That's actually the part I miss the most about GDC.

I have been in some great roundtable discussions that have been helpful to me in my career - being the same room with game developers I would normally never get a chance to talk to, discussing game development.

Even when sitting at one of the big round table in the main hall while waiting for a talk to start, I have been known to strike up random conversations with interesting people. One conversation literally lasted two days as the person and I talked through the night about making games.

(That slide needs more pictures)

So, if GDC is so great, why aren't I there right now? I intended to go. I even intended to speak at the show. I wrote and submitted a talk proposal that passed the first round of judging (it was called "Why I Hate Fun" and supposedly, it made one of the judges laugh so hard that he shot Mountain Dew out of his nose) but it didn't pass the second round and to be honest, I knew it wouldn't. It was too thin on content and I knew it. I was literally thinking about asking the panel to remove my submission when they let me know the had passed. Not a surprise and frankly, a bit of a relief. (Which brings up the question - Why was it so thin, Rogers? Because I was literally spending every waking hour I wasn't working or spending with my kids working on my game design book.)

Actually, I'm fine with it not being accepted. It re-taught me a valuable lesson about being professional and being thorough with my work. When I didn't get into the show for a talk, I asked my work if they could send me and they just didn't have the budget for it. I should have booked a flight and a hotel room (or crashed with a friend) because I had a chance to get discounted tickets, but even that was too expensive and I threw out my back... blah blah blah. Now I just sound like I'm making excuses. Anyway, I miss not being at GDC. You just don't feel like you are taking part in the industry if you aren't there. And you bet your ass I'm going to be there next year.

At least I can read about it on-line.