Tag Archives: GDC

GDC 2015

gdc15_header_update

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.

“TT4_0398” by Official GDC under CC BY 2.0.
TT4_0398” by Official GDC under CC BY 2.0.

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.

“TT4_0398” by Official GDC under CC BY 2.0.
General” by Official GDC under CC BY 2.0.

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.

2015_GDC_CA

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.

IGN_CA_Tour

America I’ll miss you, but now I return to Japan reinvigorated and excited. My new life in Japan begins now.

Sayonara 2013, Konnichiwa 2014

Sayonara 2013:

A year ago, I was busy packing for and traveling to MAGFest, listening to video game music, and having fun meeting and making friends. As a result, I declared 2013 to be a year dedicated to video games, and, boy, I definitely wasn’t far off.

IGDA Scholars at Riot Games
The 2013 E3 IGDA Scholars at Riot Games.

Since the beginning of my college career, I’ve been planning to use my junior year to get jump-started on graduation preparations with networking. As someone who wants to work in game development, the best place to go for that was, by far, GDC. In February, I received my chance by getting selected to be a Conference Associate for GDC. This was indeed a priceless experience, but the opportunities did not stop there. Greatly inspired by GDC, I applied for the 2013 IGDA E3 Scholarship. Every year, the IGDA awards these scholarships “to the most promising students studying anything related to game development.” I couldn’t have been more honored than to be selected among only 8 to win this scholarship by the IGDA.

Pegasus Theater Enforcers at PAX
The Pegasus Theater Enforcers at PAX Prime 2013.

This was a very exciting opportunity for me, because I’ve wanted to attend E3 (as well as GDC) for a very long time. Not only did I get to attend E3, the scholarship also granted me more opportunities for networking and professional growth. The more I got insight from professionals in the field, the more clear my goals and career direction became. I also got to see, sit by, and talk with many of video game developer heroes such as Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma, Jenova Chen, and Kellee Santiago (who was my mentor)! The cherry on top of all of this, would be getting accepted to be an Enforcer at PAX Prime in Seattle. While I didn’t find PAX to be as useful as GDC or E3 (mostly in thanks to the IGDA scholarship) for networking, it still provided me several opportunities to be with friends and to visit one of my favorite places in the U.S. In one year, I managed to visit for the first time three of the largest gaming events in the U.S. and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities provided to me to do so. Every year has its ups and downs, but I can say that 2013 will definitely be a year I will not soon forget!

Konnichiwa 2014:

By the end of 2013, I’ve decided to combine my love for games and my love for Japanese culture into one and pursue a career in Japanese game localization. I honestly don’t know why this realization didn’t come to me sooner, but I’m certainly glad I’ve embraced it now. For those who do not know, localization is the process by which games created in Japan (or other countries) get translated and prepared for an audience in another part of the world. Beneficial skills needed to do this type of work are creative writing, scripting, drama, and most importantly a strong foundation in Japanese (or other foreign languages).

You can help me study abroad in Japan with a small donation or even sharing this blog!
You can help me study abroad in Japan with a small donation or even sharing this blog!

With this career goal in mind, I’ve reached out to professionals in the field to gather advice in preparation for graduation this year. I was told that if Japanese game localization is something I’m interested in, I need to get myself to Japan. That’s because companies hiring for Japanese game localization positions really favor candidates who have lived in the culture, speak the language fluently, and understand all the nuances of both the game content and business communication with the companies involved. Now, I’ve wanted to study abroad for a long time, because 1) I’ve wanted to visit Japan since I was a kid and 2) living and breathing the culture and language is the best way for me to learn it. My last attempt to go to Japan in 2011 didn’t work out due to the earthquake and tsunami, but now I’ve been provided another opportunity and probably my last before graduation in December 2014. Kennesaw State University has a program in May which not only takes to me Japan, but also provides me essential credits required by both my major and minor.

I’ve started a fundraiser with GoFundMe for anyone who is willing to help me to go study abroad in Japan.

However, study abroad is not cheap, and as a poor college student who is already dependent on loans, grants, and scholarships, I can use any help I can get. I’ve started a fundraiser with GoFundMe for anyone who is willing to help me to go study abroad in Japan. Any donation is appreciated and will help me be just one step closer to achieving this goal of mine. If I can manage to save up enough money, I will be attempting to stay in Japan over the summer to do an internship with a game localization company too. Since 2014 has been on my mind for awhile, there are some other opportunities I took advantage of, which includes (but not limited to) me applying for: the Critical Language Scholarship to go study Japanese in Japan over the summer, the 2014 GDC IGDA Scholarship, and to be a Conference Associate for GDC 2014. There is no guarantee that I will get these amazing opportunities, but I will never know if I don’t try. Wish me the best of luck! While I was able to successfully use 2013 as a launch pad, 2014 is the year that will mark the end of a chapter and the start of a new one. It’s more important than ever that I continue to develop my professional growth and continue to aim for my goals. I still have lots of work to do ahead of me, so there’s no slowing down. 2014 here I come!

Your Princess is in Another Castle

Originally designed to display as an exhibit. Each image is a separate 11×17 piece, displayed at eye level in a row.

What do those words say? I’ll just go ahead and tell you. They spell out: “Your Princess is in Another Castle”.

This is a photo exhibit I designed back in April and May and it is now on display at Southern Polytechnic State University. Of course, now that it is on display, I felt the time was right to write about this special exhibit. In fact, the timing couldn’t be more perfect with my recent attendance of the XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design exhibit at the Museum of Design in Atlanta. The result is a perfect storm of ideas for a blog that simply needs to be written. There is no better place to start than with the inspiration behind “Your Princess Is In Another Castle”.

Back in February, I discovered a video  being shared among a circle of game developers I follow on Twitter.

Back in February, I discovered a video  being shared among a circle of game developers I follow on Twitter. The video was the first part to a new video series created by Anita Sarkeesian and called “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”.

Finding her video enlightening and informative, I’ve decided to see how professionals in the field felt about it. Upon posting the video in the International Game Developers Association LinkedIn Group for additional commentary and feedback, it was an immediately hot topic. It remained the most popular topic for about two months and did not start reducing in popularity until comments were closed. Ultimately, my post about Anita’s video resulted in 208 comments of hot debate about not only the role of women as characters in video games but also as game developers in a predominately male industry.

The conversation I witness unfold around Anita’s video would follow me to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Notably, there was the IGDA/YetiZen party incident which featured scantily clad female dancers much to the chagrin and disapproval of many game developers. Despite this, and thankfully, GDC was largely defined by a huge positive movement for change within the industry. Leading the way was the newly formed advocacy track. One of the sessions from this new track called #1ReasonToBe, was arguably the most talked about session of GDC.

The origin of this panel has its roots in Twitter hashtags #1ReasonWhy and #1ReasonToBe. #1ReasonWhy encouraged women game developers to speak out about their difficulties of being in the video game industry. The result was numerous tweets that were full of upsetting, troubling, and negative stories about being women who make games and gained a lot of publicity by the media.

A number of women game developers wanted to counteract this negative movement through the hashtag #1ReasonToBe, discussing instead why women are a part of the industry and should continue to be a part of it. This Twitter discussion culminated into the session at GDC, and resulted in a powerful message that inspires women to remain strong and pushes the industry forward in embracing gender equality.

Right now in Atlanta, at the Museum of Design, is a special video game exhibit called XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design. Its mission is to highlight the work of women as game designers and artists. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see such an exhibit, apparently the first of its kind, form in Atlanta. If anything, it is certainly a sign, maybe even an extension of what I’ve experienced with “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” and the events at GDC.

Its mission is to highlight the work of women as game designers and artists.

Women have been and will always be an integral part of the game development community. Their growing contribution to game development only makes me more excited for the future to come. As a male, I may never truly fully understand the issues and hurdles women face in achieving gender equality. However, I will certainly support the cause. That is why “Your Princess is in Another Castle” exists.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If this photo exhibit can get someone to ponder about the issues involving video games and gender equality, that would be good enough. Although, I really hope it will be a tool used to help spread the message of #1ReasonToBe.