GDC 2011 and the Power of Community

Today is my first #AltDevBlogADay post, so I guess it would be polite to introduce myself. I am a recent Computer Science Graduate from Carleton University and am currently a contract mobile phone developer that has been fiddling with game development in my spare time.

This past February, I had flown to San Francisco and attended my first ever GDC. I was originally hesitant of going to GDC, mainly because I have yet to release a game myself. I had constantly imagined myself being pulled out of a crowd and outed as an imposter. Luckily this did not happen at all, I actually left the convention feeling empowered and motivated. All the people at the conference were so nice that it really made me feel at home; it made me feel that I belonged. If there was only one thing I could take away from GDC, it’s about the importance of community.

There is something to be said about surrounding yourself with other people who share your passion. It seems to energize you in a unique way that can’t be reproduced. This energy is one of the main reasons that people to go to GDC. To find inspiration from their peers and mentally re-energize themselves so that they can go back to work and produce the best games they can.

The sad news is that not everyone can get to San Francisco and attend GDC. The most obvious reason is the cost. If you want to attend the main keynotes, your base cost starts at around $950 and will increase when you include flights, accommodations and daily spending. There are ways to mitigate this but in the end you would most likely spend around $1500. Is it worth it though? Absolutely. If you are seriously considering getting into the game industry, you should be going to GDC for the networking opportunities alone.

Aside from GDC there are plenty of ways to interact with other game developers. The most popular tool these days seems to be Twitter. If you haven’t joined twitter yet, I would highly recommend it. Some people may question its usefulness, but that is completely dependent on who you follow. Combining Twitter with Game Industry Tweets can really help you get a sense of the developer space. As an added bonus, seeing all the developers you follow tweet about their work can really be uplifting on those tough days.

Since GDC, I turned down a full-time position from my contractor to instead pursue game development. Maybe next time when I attend GDC I will be more part of the tribe. In the meantime I will be blogging and tweeting (feel free to follow me @Gahzi) my experiences as an indie game developer.

That about wraps it up for my first blog post. I promise to have something more technical for my next post. In the meantime feel free to comment!