With accreditation as both press and Project Partner for Game Hub Scandinavia, I was really excited to attend my first Game Developers Conference in downtown, San Francisco, this spring. Here you’ll find the world’s largest gathering of game developers. And it isn’t really a media-friendly event, unlike E3 in Los Angeles, which is all about news for players and press. GDC is a place for game developers to share and learn. All twenty-six thousand of them.
Text and photos Ebba Køber
Editor at FuN and Project Partner in Game Hub Scandinavia
So how do you orient yourself at this gigantic arena? In a civilized society, there are rules and codes, and GDC is no exception. There are online guides and tips for how to survive the three-day event. And they don’t all say the same things. GDC is packed with virtual reality innovation, summits, tutorials, boot camps, developer days, round-tables, fun-filled interactive spaces and exciting parties and events. Some say GDC is all about networking, others think the lectures are the core of the show. And some even say it is the parties that are most important.
I was immediately invited into an indie-party, on my first night, on my way to the hotel. I took the opportunity to learn how this works. There were a lot of developers (even some award winning Norwegians), a keg of beer and computers for looking at games. After a couple of beers, I had to throw in the towel and check into the hotel. With a couple of business cards in my pockets, already feeling into the experience.
NEW GAMES AND ACCOLADES
An important part of the event is the presentation of new games, indie- and others, and there are also awards. IGF and Game Choice Awards Winners: The 18th Annual IGF Awards honoured and awarded over $50,000 in prize money to the most innovative and brightest developers in indie game development. Headlining the notable winners, ‘Her Story’ (Sam Barlow) received the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
The 16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards celebrated the industry’s best games and developers. ‘Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ (Project RED) won top honours with Game of the Year and also received the Best Technology award. ‘Her Story’ (Sam Barlow) took home the Innovation Award, Best Narrative, and Best Handheld/Mobile Game accolades.
MEETINGS AND NETWORKING
As a Norwegian GHS partner, I was proud of the Norwegian developers participating at GDC. They won both Honourable Mentions and First Prizes at the GDC Play. I also had good meetings and talks while arranging a mixer with Scandinavian industry representatives and The Norwegian Consulate General. Together we attended the Nordic party, which is a very popular event, thanks to our friends at Game Hub Scandinavia.
The keynote speaker at our Norwegian FuNKon15 conference last year, Starr Long, from Portalarium was giving a talk at GDC.
THE WORLD OF VIRTUAL REALITY
This year the big focus was on VR and exciting new ways to use it in games. VRDC 2016 went on at the same time as GDC. In the expo area, people were queuing up to check out the newest edition of the Oculus Rift VR-mask. As press, I luckily didn’t have to stand in line and was brought into a dark room for testing.
In the picture, you see me trying out the newest Oculus Rift. It was a really new experience for the senses. With gloves, we could play tennis, light matches and build castles.
No one looks cool in a VR-mask – or do they?
In the end, my impression of this massive event is that this is a place for sharing and learning, and those game developers have kept a playful indie approach to the industry, which I hope will continue in the years to come.