Some Words Before GDC

by Darius Kazemi on March 18, 2006

in gdc

Well, tomorrow I fly out to San Jose, CA to attend the Game Developers Conference. I’m still a little weirded out that I will be speaking.

GDC is always, without fail, my favorite week of the year (professionally speaking). A lot of developers I know say, “I went one year. I didn’t learn much from the presentations.” I take issue with that on about a billion levels. I’ll outline a few.

I will be the first to admit that a lot of the sessions suck. Many of the presenters fall flat because they assume the audience knows close to nothing about the topic at hand, and so they spend 15 minutes giving background. This is fine for the sessions labeled for beginners, but I’ve seen this happen on supposedly intermediate and expert sessions too. You have to know who’s worth seeing. Ask a friend who has been to GDC before what they would recommend. If you don’t have a friend who’s been to GDC before, show up to GDC and make a friend who’s been to GDC before.

Futhermore, if you find yourself going to programming sessions and not learning anything new… go to a session that has nothing to do with your field of expertise. I guarantee you’ll learn something.

The presentations are nice, but ultimately you will learn more from your peers at parties, in the halls, and during meals. I like to say I go to GDC to learn the second biggest trend. The biggest trend will be beaten to death by all the keynote speakers. The second biggest trend lurks in the dark corners of the convention center. It’s the buzzwords you hear from other developers but not from the keynotes.

The way to get the most out of GDC is to be social. Network. Make friends. Make tons of friends.

If you’re not prepared to do that, then don’t waste your money on the conference. Be a mindless drone and go to E3 instead. Go get your head filled with lies and half-truths. Believe the hype.

Me? I’ll be corresponding with my conference buddies, taking part in a quiet revolution…

{ 1 comment }

jay March 27, 2006 at 7:49 pm

Excellent advice, Darius! =)

I agree that the best experiences at GDC include the social networking and friend-making that goes on. While the tutorials and the sessions can be great inspiration and food for thought, it’s the parties and the schmoozing that are the main course meal.

It was great meeting you in person at the MinnaMingle. If I had stayed back at the hotel I would have missed that opportunity. ;)

Keep up the great work with the Games For Health project. The industry benefits tremendously from positive press like that. I am anticipating that games like Nintendo’s Brain Training and Big Brain (I LOVE those games!) will soon become household names in the US, as I firmly believe that games can (and do!) promote good health.

It would be great if we could find some way to collaborate together at some point in the future should the opportunity present itself.

best regards,

Jay Bibby

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