GDC Reflections

by Samm Bennett
Upon reflection, it seems like this may have been the most productive GDC for me since I started attending several years ago. Ironically, up until Thursday I was quite confident that attending was a dumb idea. The cause for both the success and the doubt is the same: I already have a job!

Up until this year I have attended every GDC with the hope of scoring an internship or a full-time job. As a result, I spent too much time exploring the job fair (whether skipping talks or running in between sessions). Although I do recognize that I've made some good connections while exploring, I think the calmness and focus that resulted from removing the rushing and nervousness truly let me absorb more, both in the sessions and while just chatting with people.

On a similar note, I've truly stopped giving a damn about swag and didn't bother looking for any while scoping out the expo. Instead I checked out some amazing games by the IGF booth, and also had some interesting conversations regarding some tools (although the OnLive guy had me really questioning the service).

Another cause for this year being a success is just the experience I've gained since last year, primarily from work on Inversionand at Amazon. I'm sure the host of books I've read since then have helped as well.

I sort of surprised myself by attending so many design talks this year. While at first I felt disappointed in myself for not focusing on programming, a friend of mine got it right when pointing out those talks are generally worthless if there is no immediate application. Nevertheless, Star Ocean 4: Flexible Shader Management and Post-Processing was very impressive, even though it was the last session on a Friday (after everyone is completely exhausted), and also fairly over my head.

The focus on game design certainly had an interesting consequence though. Now, more than ever, I feel inspired to just start doing. I plan on blogging more, networking more, and really start talking to other developers and gamers. But most importantly, I came away with a few game ideas that I plan to start on development before the week is done. My big takeaway this year? To stop worrying if I can get a job somewhere working on games I criticize for failing as art; instead start making games I want to make NOW.