GDC – What it is, and Why it's Important

Jarom "Solar" Norris

Hey everyone! Solar here, filling in for Noah, talking about my geek specialty – Video Games.

This week is GDC – The Game Developers Conference. It’s a big deal in the video game community, advertising itself as the “World’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event”. For 5 days, over 24,000 attendees including programmers, artists, producers, designers, musicians, and business professionals will attend lectures, panels, and showcases.

GDC Banner

This year, GDC will have 8 major summits: Artificial Intelligence, Community Management, eSports, Free to Play Games, Game Narrative, Education, Independent Games, and Smartphone & Tablet Games. Each of these summits offer attendees opportunities to be taught by the best in the industry, including keynote talks by developers from Blizzard and Gearbox, and other experienced devs.

The choice of the 8 summits is fascinating to me, because it represents the areas that people want – and NEED – to learn more about in this industry. Indie Games are always a staple at GDC, but Mobile and Community games are rapidly becoming more and more popular, as major MMO creators are rethinking their processes and trying new things, and mobile games are becoming more and more community-based all the time. Free to Play games are an entirely seperate beast, but that model is starting to leave distinctive marks on the MMO and Mobile game industries, with huge games like Clash of Clans and League of Legends leaving their destinctive marks on the way we pay for games.

Speaking of which, an entire summit of GDC is dedicated to eSports. The scenes, the fans, and even the money are getting bigger every year in eSports, and companies like Twitch, Valve, Riot, and Blizzard are leading the way. With eSports teams and players both getting awards spots (albeit, fan-voted ones) at last year’s Game Awards, nobody is doubting anymore that eSports are a thing. But that’s a whole ‘nother article.

Let’s talk about what’s really important about GDC. It’s possibly the best conference where indie and triple-a devs meet together under a mutual understanding – how freaking hard it is to make games. For triple-a games, there’s a lot of pressure to make a game that lives up to the hype and achieve the popularity of their previous games. For indie developers, their issue is usually their budget. They have to use things like Patrick de Arteaga’s website for free music in order to stay within budget. GDC is home to the IGF – The Indie Game Festival, arguably the most prominant indie-only game awards. GDCPlay offers attendees chances to play games that are being shown off by developers trying to get their foot in the door. It also offers devs a chance to network with other indie devs who have made it further and programmers from companies like Sony, and get tons of advise, contacts, and sometimes even capital. And best of all, it offers students an inside look at the industry and the people in it. In fact, our own EAE Master Game Studio took one of 8 winning spots in the IGF Student Showcase for their game Cyber Heist last year.

Want to know more about GDC? Check out Gamasutra’s coverage of it here. Lucky enough to go to GDC? We’d love to see some pictures! Post to our Facebook page or email us at [email protected].

Geek out!