This year was the first time I got to attend the annual Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco. My pass was very generously sponsored by the GDAA and I was incredibly lucky to be able to go! Now, with that out of the way, here comes some stream of consciousness style ramblings about it.
There is a lot going on at any given time. The first two days were basically just talks, and for any given time slot, there were usually three or four talks I wanted to see. Luckily, most of them are recorded to watch afterwards. Ergo, my retrospective advice to myself is: Pick the talk that sounds the most interesting, and talk to at least one person while you’re there. You have at least one thing in common: you thought that talk would be the most interesting!
Parties, parties, parties. So very many parties. Several a night. You can’t go to all of them. You can’t even get invited to all of them. Don’t fret. Go to a party you can get into, with someone you know. Then talk to new people all night. You will miss out on a lot! That’s inevitable, so just enjoy the time you have and the people you meet. There’s a whole week, and you don’t want to exhaust yourself too early.
Expo halls! There’s so much to see and do. And more talks happening. Now would be a good time to figure out which talks are unmissable, and then miss the rest. There is just too much else to see.
Make the IGF pavilion your first stop. The people there will be overwhelmed and exhausted and that’ll only intensify. So get to ’em while they’re fresh! Talk to everyone, play everything if you haven’t already. Ask them about stuff! This is a rare opportunity. And they’re usually super nice.
Spend some time walking around and looking at cool games on display, but don’t treat it like a convention. Don’t look for cool new games to check out, look for people to talk to about those cool games. You can check out their game later, but they’ll only be there to talk for this week.
Don’t miss the #1reasontobe panel. It’s so important. And this years was so powerful, so moving. I definitely cried. I love those women.
Also don’t miss the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. It’s a chance to see some of the coolest, most interesting stuff on display, and here the creators talk about the why and how and where.
Want coffee, ask Aussies. Americans don’t know shit about coffee. Aussies know where to go.
Talk to everyone you get the chance to. Everyone there is probably interesting and cool. Take every business card you can. Give yours to anyone who will take it. You will not remember everyone, and they won’t remember you, but contacting someone after because you have their card and saying ‘hey we met at GDC’ is way less creepy than finding someone online and being ‘hey talk to me’. So do that.
Want food, roll with a local. They know what’s good. They’ll explain weird tipping rules. They know how to get around.
Are you a lady? When outside of the conference, roll with a dude as much as possible. Never go anywhere alone. SF is full of harassment and unsavoury types. I found this out first hand.
Always carry ID. They are way stricter about that in most of the places I went to. And then on strange occasions they weren’t.
Stay in the ‘indie hostel’. Hang with people in the lobby and the lounge. Chat over breakfast. But uh, stay away from the tenderloin. It’s close, and it’s… just don’t go there.
Livetweet cool panels, and follow the hashtags for them. It enriches the experience.
Don’t use data roaming. It’s not worth it. Get a US SIM while you’re there.
Nobody is too big or important to talk to! Just strike up a conversation with whoever. Be interested and curious and not obnoxious. Don’t fawn.
Put a little padding on either side of your trip. GDC week is too full to do anything other than GDC stuff. Get in a little early to get over jetlag, give yourself a little time at the end to do things you didn’t get to do during the week.
There’s probably a lot more, but those are the places my thoughts went. My GDC trip summarised in less than 1000 words for you. Probably reads a lot like it felt!