Archive for the ‘Game Industry Events’ Category

GDC 2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

YES! I just got my acceptance letter to attend GDC 2011 as a Conference Associate! For those of you who don’t know, Conference Associates (or CAs for short) are the volunteers that help run GDC. It’s a fantastic program that I’ve talked about before on my blog here and here. Needless to say, I am very excited about volunteering again this year! I miss all the CAs a lot. We’re kind of like a big family, and I love seeing them all every year!

I strongly encourage any of you out there who are trying to get your foot in the door of the game industry to apply for a volunteer position next year. It’s too late for GDC 2011, but applications open up around November of the year previous to each conference. They make their final selections in early January, which gives you a good chance to get a great deal on a plane ticket. The application form is always on the Volunteer Page on the main GDC website. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

This is going to be an especially fun year for me in particular as well, since I’m turning 30 at the GDC! I have the feeling I’m going to be partying quite late that night, most likely with a bunch of CAs and my new co-workers at Riot! I think this year I’ll try to take some pictures and post them with my GDC 2011 Final Thoughts post. If you’re going to be attending, see you there!

There’s a GDC Canada?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I opened one of my daily Gamasutra digest emails yesterday while catching up from not having read a week’s worth of them at the GDC, when I was suddenly intrigued by the ad at the top. GDC Canada? I’ve never heard of such a thing, but it piqued my interest so I followed the link:

Wow! That’s pretty cool! When I visit websites, I almost always ignore the top and sides because most websites reserve those spaces for ads, and I HATE ads (unless they are making me money in my games). But now I see that there’s a whole bunch of GDC events that happen all around the year. There’s five in all – the main GDC, GDC Austin, GDC Canada, GDC Europe, and even GDC China! I knew about the first two, but the last three are new to me. It looks like they all have volunteer opportunities as well!

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have an absolute blast when I volunteer at the GDC in San Fran every year. I also serve as the volunteer coordinator for SIEGE Con in Atlanta. If these other conferences are even one tenth of the fun of GDC, I would have a blast AND get even more networking opportunities. Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to Europe. Can we say “business trip?” :)

If any of you readers out there have attended or volunteered for any of these additional conferences, please post a comment and tell us about it. These seem like fantastic opportunities, especially for those students in Europe and Asia (and maybe even Canada) who can’t afford a plane ticket to the US for the main GDC event.

GDC 2009 – Final Thoughts

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

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!

GDC 2009 – CA Program

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

The GDC is upon us once more, and once again this year I was accepted into the GDC CA volunteer program. The GDC has thousands upon thousands of game developers and game industry professionals attend each year, making it THE premier event of our industry. For those of you who are trying to get your foot in the door, the CA program probably the best way to network you could possibly hope for. This is my 4th or 5th year volunteering and I plan to do it every year that I possibly can. You will meet so many amazing people and form friendships that can last a lifetime. An added benefit is that you never know if one of those people will one day turn into an in for a job opportunity. After all, the game industry (just as most things in life) is all about who you know.

In brief, when you sign up as a GDC CA volunteer, you are asked to do up to 20 hours of work over the course of the entire week and you are expected to be in attendance from the Sunday before the conference starts through the last Friday sessions. The exact work you’ll do is described on the volunteer page ( so I won’t go into it here, but it’s pretty much basic stuff anyone with a friendly attitude can do. In return, you are given a free “All Access” pass (a $2200 value – nothing to scoff at), reduced hotel costs (about $100-$200 savings a night over regular hotel costs), and most importantly the networking opportunity of a lifetime. This is absolutely the best thing you can do for your career if you are a student or a newbie trying to break in. If you are lucky you may even have a chance to meet your favorite celebrity game developer while working at his/her session. Also, the CA leaders, Tim Brengle and Ian MacKenzie, are two of the most amazing leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They make the CA program feel like a big happy family and tirelessly work to make your job easy and fun. I can’t say enough good things about them!

Obviously, with the GDC already upon us, all the volunteer slots are already filled for this year’s conference. However, the volunteer applications open up between September and October of year for the next year’s conference, so in 6 to 7 months time you should keep your eyes peeled to the GDC site for this announcement. The CA program is one of the most fulfilling and amazing times I have every year. I always reserve one of my 2 precious weeks of vacation from work for it, and I’ve never been disappointed. What could be better than spending a fabulous week in San Francisco surrounded by fellow nerds and game makers, and more importantly my big CA family? Nothing! Trust me, once you try it you’ll never want to go another year without volunteering.

Global Game Jam – Coming Up Jan 30

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

For those of you who may be interested, the Global Game Jam is coming up on January 30 to Feb 1. Basically a bunch of developers get together and form teams to make a game over the weekend. I’ve never been to one of these, but I have participated in the Game Design Workshop for the past several years at the GDC and it’s a lot of fun every time. I will be attending this event and I strongly encourage any aspiring game developers out there to also attend. You’d be amazed at how much you learn, but more importantly you’d be amazed at how many contacts you’ll make. And we all know getting a job in the game industry is all about who you know.

Just to prove that point, John Sharp is running my local Atlanta Game Jam. He and I were co-speakers on a panel about kid’s games at 2008 Siege Con (which is basically the GDC of the southeast). It amazes me how small the game industry is. I still consider myself a fledgling and I’ve already recognized quite a few of my friends’ names in the list. It’s very important to remember that your reputation will follow you everywhere in the form of people, so make sure you don’t ever burn bridges.