GDC: Day 1


Today turned out to be a little less busy than I expected. I’ve discovered that this is because the main conference doesn’t start until Wednesday. Only attendees with All Access passes or with passes to certain tracks and sessions offered on Monday/Tuesday are really the only ones wandering around the halls of the Moscone Center. This allowed me to easily get used to doing the duties of a CA though. Being a CA is quite enjoyable, and I don’t think I would be able to enjoy GDC the same without it. Again, as I stated in my previous blog, my family of CAs are some of the greatest, most friendly, and helpful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

I had two shifts, both for two very popular sessions. The first was for “Molyjam: How Twitter Jokes Can Save Video Games” by Double Fine’s Anna Kipnis. I found this session particularly delightful. It explained how the Peter Molyneux parodying Twitter account, @PeterMolydeux, eventually lead to the creation of international Molyjam game jam. By using the jokes from this Twitter account, game developers from around the world were able to create games that were truly thinking outside of the box and inspired creativity. I was very inspired by this, and I want to plan a Molyjam for Atlanta. This is something I’m definitely going to follow up on. The video of this session is available to watch here on Gamasutra!

My second shift was for “The Unfinished Swan: From Student Prototype to Commercial Game” by Ian Dallas. Being currently a student working on games, I was really excited to work this one. I was not the only one; the room was literally overflowing with attendees. Ian explained how he created the concept for The Unfinished Swan for his USC professor, which eventually evolved into an entry for Sense of Wonder Night 2008, ended up on YouTube, was noticed by Sony, which led to a contract formed during a 9-month duration. I already found an article by VentureBeat which covers this very session and summarizes it.

Later, I was able to take part in a special program available only to CAs, a CA mentor program. This was a great learning experience for me. There was nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth. First, I talked with a community manager who gave me great advice about how to use social media to improve my personal brand for game development. Then I joined a table that had a mentor who claimed he could help artists. This mentor turned out to be the friendly Blizzard Entertainment designer I met the day before, and he was again providing all sorts of great advice.

Notably, he mentioned that if you’re involved in game development and producing content in anyway, you are already a game developer. Therefore, there is no need to say you’re “aspiring” or even if you’re a “student.” If you design games, then you are a designer. If you make art, you are an artist, and so on. Additionally, he mentioned the importance of being able to analyze what you like and dislike about a game’s design and being able to explain it an concise manner. He also mentioned that even just having a game idea written out can be worth sharing in a portfolio, as well as simple concepts of it through drawings or even a board game. Any work that shows you critically thinking about its design is worthy of being added to a portfolio, even if it is incomplete or a work in progress.

Although his focus was on design, it could be applied to a variety of fields. This focus on design made me realize that I should definitely consider becoming a game designer. In fact, I’m probably much better suited to become a designer than I am an artist, even with my strong artistic background as a New Media Arts student. The way the New Media Arts program is structured, combined with my Game Design minor, seems to be the perfect recipe for such a role.

Tomorrow I’ll be helping staff two sessions: “Beyond the Dialogue: Perspectives on Industry and Academia” and “Storytelling in DC Universe Online.” As part of the CA mentor program, tomorrow will have mock interviews as well as portfolio/resume reviews. The IGDA party is also tomorrow night, which should be good. I’m already looking forward to another day at GDC!

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