GDC Wisdom From Ian

by Darius Kazemi on February 20, 2007

in gdc,networking

So right after last year’s GDC, Ian Schreiber sent me a bunch of notes he took as advice for people attending. That was his first GDC, so he didn’t take a lot of the stuff for granted that I typically do. (Update: Kim just pointed me to some of his GDC advice! And you should also check out this page with Damian’s advice, too.)

Anyway, I was a bum and didn’t post the notes. But since GDC ’07 is coming up in a month (!!!!), now seems like a good time to post his advice. It’s great stuff. Pay attention.

  • Take public transportation, not a car. You’re trapped on a bus or tram with other game developers, giving you time to chat.
  • For sessions where there’s an audience microphone set up, grab a seat near it. If you have an intelligent question, you’ll be first in line.
  • For sessions without a microphone (this happened during the first two days at SGS), sit in the front row. You’ll be more alert, and when you raise your hand you always seem to get called on first since you’re the first one anyone on stage sees.
  • Take a backpack with you. It’s an easy place to dump swag or book purchases, and it makes you recognizable if you choose a backpack that stands out (or decorate it with buttons or such).
  • Take a physical notebook and lots of pens. If someone near you needs to borrow a pen, you can cover them, and now they owe you a favor. If you need to write something down (like a URL that you mention to someone), you can just scribble it on your paper and give it to them.
  • Take notes during the sessions. Offer to share with other people who either missed a good session, or were there but didn’t take notes. Great excuse to send follow-up emails when the other person asked you to in the first place :)
  • Carry a cell phone with you. If you don’t have one, rent one for the week. It’s very useful to be reachable at all hours, since it’s so hard to find a specific person in the crowd even when you’ve arranged to meet them.
  • But… always remember to turn the phone off before you enter sessions. I don’t think I made it through a single session without SOMEONE’S phone going off, and it was annoying.
  • Darius advised in an earlier article to avoid the booth crawl, and not worry about getting swag at GDC. I would amend that — if you’re unemployed, ignore swag; but if you work at a company, I think it’s worth spending the Booth Crawl time slot getting some stuff for the poor folksback at the office who didn’t get to attend. It makes your team happy when the first thing you do on returning is hand out a bunch of free stuff; in particular it makes them not mind so much when you ask to go again next year :)
  • Darius also advised taking two lunches so you can offer one to someone with a classic pass; that’s borderline, as you mentioned. I’d also point out that it’s perfectly legal to take a box lunch when you’ve already got lunch plans elsewhere.


Darren Torpey February 15, 2007 at 5:07 am

Cool, thanks for posting this.

I’m glad to see that 95% of it was already on my list, though even at that it’s great to have the encouragement. I’m one of the only people I know who takes notes during talks, but it definitely helps me later when I’m trying to convey a great thought that the speaker shared or inspired in me during the talk (or even if I’m just trying to convey the worth of the speaker).

I’m definitely going to take notes like Ian’s on the conference itself, as well this year, since it’ll be my first time. The cycle must continue!

kim February 20, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Good advice. I’d add some more from a post I did before a previous GDC:

dkmf February 23, 2007 at 6:32 am

hey dont forget mine!
so much advice, so little time!
see you in another week true believers!

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