Another Game Developers Conference (GDC) has come and gone. As I left San Francisco, all that was left was its shell: the white Moscone Center and the yellow and orange GDC banners that still proudly hung in support of a conference that has recently transpired.
Observing this, I experienced both sadness and happiness. I am sad that I won’t get to see friends and exchange conversations with some of the most intelligent people I know in the industry on a regular basis. However, I am happy to see that there is a bright future for the games industry. The attendees of GDC are the people who will change the industry. Being surrounded by them at GDC greatly inspires me to do my best in chasing my dreams and ambitions.
At the end of 2014, I moved to Japan to pursue my passion. I wanted to immerse myself more into game localization, a craft I wanted to specialize in, and become proficient in the language and culture. Everything seemingly was going to plan, but, perhaps inevitably, I ran into hurdles and roadblocks during my brief time here in Japan. These moments left a bitter taste in my mouth and I found myself feeling discouraged and my confidence was wavering. I was still determined to accomplish my goal, but my morale was at an all-time low.
Luckily, GDC was right around the corner. Since I was living across the Pacific Ocean in another country, I truly wondered if I could attend GDC again this year. It was tight, but I was able to make it happen. I don’t regret it at all. Like my previous GDC experiences, this year proved to be memorable and life-changing.
This year I prioritized face-to-face meetings plus sessions and roundtables which would not be recorded and uploaded onto the GDC Vault. It was an excellent decision. I met and befriended incredibly talented people who I would love to work with in the future. I also learned so much about aspects of the industry I’ve had yet to experience. In particular, the “Acting and Talent for Games: From Indie to AAA” roundtables were my favorite events to attend. These talks explored aspects of game development that I wanted to learn the most about at GDC: localization, writing, and voice acting.
I got access to a fair amount of parties too, but the award for “GDC 2015 Best Party Attended” goes to IGN’s Indie Mixer. The IGN party was great for meeting people and getting to see many incredible indie titles. Just from observation, Spider: Rite of Shrouded Moon looked very fun. I also had my first VR experience and played Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes using the Oculus. All the games at the event looked pretty great, to be honest. While I am talking about indie games, let me plug in some titles from the GDC floor. Metamorphabet and Killer Queen, the two titles I did play, were also really fun. I must also mention Butt Sniffin’ Pugs. Yes, you heard that right. Butt Sniffin’ Pugs.
This was my third GDC, but for a second time I was invited to join the Conference Associates who are also known as the CAs. The CA program is the best volunteer program I have ever experienced. I would not hesitate to claim it to be the best in the world. Working as a CA this year made me realize just how great this program is. It manages to bring together 400 people across a wide range of disciplines and they all work together harmoniously to run the largest event designed to inform and educate game industry professionals.
The head of the CA program must have a great sense for people, because the CAs consist of some of the most friendly, most enthusiastic, most helpful human beings I know. Not only that, the program is structured to support and include everyone. The work environment generated by the CA program is nearly utopian. Through careful observation, I think this can be credited to the established chain of service. It is one that prioritizes the attendee followed by the CAs, the CA staff, the CA head, and finally UBM. This structure and the acceptance of everyone’s opinions and ideas is, what I believe, the secret to the success of the CA program. Support from CAs does not only last during GDC, but forever. Joining the CAs is like joining a family, and I am proud and very grateful to be part of this amazing family.
Speaking of family, I am lucky enough to be joining another one. It was during GDC that I got to visit the IGN office to talk about a freelance job. I am very happy to announce that I will be working with IGN as their Japan correspondent. I’m now working with a company that I’ve been admiring, following, and reading their material since the release of the original The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in 2000. I’ve been told it’s like being in another CA family and I cannot be more thrilled.
America I’ll miss you, but now I return to Japan reinvigorated and excited. My new life in Japan begins now.