GDC has been one of my favorite events for decades, ever since I attended its predecessor, the Computer Game Developers Conference, in the early 90s. I thought it went downhill around 2000, which is part of the reason I established SIEGE. The GDC owners learned from their mistakes, and it is again the industry must-attend event.
There are numerous online guides for how to make the most of GDC, but there are a few specifics that I think get overlooked.
1. Go to the round tables. GDC offers numerous learning opportunities and chances to network, but the round tables are the best mix of both. You get a great mix of perspectives and experience, as well as the chance to meet everyone who speaks. These sessions are always some of the highlights of GDC for me.
2. Talk to everyone. Our company, HDI, came out of a chance encounter at CGDC. Everyone is casually dressed, and may not look impressive, but the most slovenly dressed person may well be exactly the person you want to meet. While some people in our industry may have weak interpersonal skills, most are very friendly and approachable. Especially approach people around meals. I find lunch much better for networking than the loud nighttime parties.
3. While HDI has gotten contracts at GDC, most of your real results will come long after the con is over. Follow up, respond to follow ups, and don’t insist on immediate results. Game Dev is often a long process of figuring with whom you want to work and finding the right project on which to partner.
I am always curious as to other people’s GDC experiences, positive or negative, so please let me know.