The week is finished, and another Game Developers Conference has come and gone. This year was a delight as always, mostly due to the CA program. It never ceases to amaze me how amazing of a networking opportunity this is. In fact, this year during each of our daily morning meetings, we had “celebrity” CAs (both former and current) such as Matthew Wegner (Flashbang Studios) and Kim Swift (Valve Software) speak to us. It’s always inspiring to hear these stories. Who knows, maybe I’ll be up there doing the same thing one day.
On a negative note, the floundering economy seems to have had a noticeable impact on the GDC. The Expo Floor was smaller than last year and had far less awesome swag up for grabs. Also, the Career Pavilion seemed to have the same number of exhibitors as last year but about four times as many applicants. I’m not sure why people are saying that the game industry is recession-proof. It was slightly depressing, but I am one of the fortunate ones who still has a job at this point.
Someone once told me that the best time to network for a future job is while you still have one. I learned the meaning of that this year, as this was the first GDC I attended while employed in a stable, full-time, games industry position (ironic what with the economy, eh?). I didn’t have any stress of job-searching, and I wasn’t trying to meet people who might help me join a studio. As a result, I made more new friends than ever before. That’s not to say that all the friends I made in previous years were solely for the purpose of my ulterior motives, but the lion’s share of them at some point or another received some kind of inquiry about jobs. This can frequently be a turn off to people, as they are there to make friends and network as well but don’t necessarily want to be obligated to answer questions about employment. Also, if you think that you can force a friendship with someone just so that you can get an “in” to their studio, think again. People can smell insincerity a mile away. Instead, focus your best efforts on just being yourself and make friends with whomever you come across. You never know if that student you met last year will be a big name industry professional next year (*cough cough* Kim Swift), so it’s best just to have fun and establish true friendships with people you like and get along with.
On a more personal note, I am slightly bummed that I did not get to meet Alex Rigopulos & Eran Egozy (co-founders of Harmonix). I got the chance to be one of the 15 VIP ushers for the Developer’s Choice Awards, and I was in line waiting as Alex came up to the registration table. Unfortunately, a couple of other people happened to finish before him, and so I had to escort them instead. Sooooo close!!! I wanted to thank him on the walk to the table for his dedication to bringing music to everyone. Rock Band is one of my absolute all-time favorite game series. I have a fairly rigorous music background – my major in school was Music Composition for several years before I switched to Game Design. Music comes fairly naturally to me, but not to all my friends. Rock Band gives me the perfect opportunity to include my less musically-talented friends in a fantastic experience where we can all rock out and enjoy the game. I might be on Expert and they are on Easy, but it still feels like we are living the awesome dream of being a real-life rock band!
In conclusion, it was another awesome year at the GDC in San Francisco. I’m already looking forward to volunteering again next year! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the volunteer CA program, please see my previous post at the beginning of the week. It’s an experience you will never forget!