I'm currently waiting in San Francisco International Airport for my flight back to Washington after attending the Game Developers Conference 2013. The conference spanned over 5 days, from Monday to Friday and contained almost everything you could hope for if you're working (or aspiring to work) in the games industry.
I volunteered as a CA, or Conference Associate, for the conference meaning that I was worked for 20 hours through the 5 day week. "Working" on this occasion consisted of scanning people into talks and the keeping watch over the session. Best. Work. Ever.
When I wasn't "working" I was able to wander around the rest of the conference, going to any talks I chose, and explore the vast Expo floor full of developers of new technology and games. This ranged from Nintendo displaying their partnership with the Unity game engine, to Oculus VR showing off the highly anticipated Oculus Rift headset, to countries trying to raise awareness of their rapidly growing gaming culture.
Anywhere you turned there was something new being shown off, business cards being exchanged, or pens/free crap being taken followed by a swift get-away in order to avoid conversation...
I had a great time however there was much more to GDC for me than networking, talks and free crap. Without a doubt this has been one of the most inspiring things I've ever done, it's given me a desire and drive that was lacking before, even to the point where I was slightly doubting my choice of course.
Doubts have been erased and I'll try explain why!
It's everywhere.This is the first thing that was simply fantastic about GDC. Pretty much everyone you met was in some way related or working in the games industry. This may seem obvious given the name of the conference however there was just something about being around so many people who were passionate about the same subject.
So much of the credit has to be given to the people I was in contact with the most. The CA family. And believe me when I say family.
Every single CA I met was quite simply a wonderful person! I regret not being able to meet every single one of the 340 strong group!
No matter if I was working with them, playing witch-hunt/Joust/Dance Central/Munchkin, eating with them or simply hanging around talking about anything, it was always amazing fun. I have no doubt that it was all of the time spent with these wonderful people that has sparked passion back into my gaming life. (extra points for being corny?)
I attended the Independent Games Awards and the Developers Choice Awards while I was at GDC. It was inspiring to see all the nominees at the front, ecstatic that they are getting the recognition that they so rightly deserve however as I watched from the middle of the packed hall one thought crossed my mind.
I don't want to be watching this from the middle of the room. I want to be up there. I want to be in front of the stage. I want to be in the VIP section alongside every other developer nominated for an award, gaining recognition of what I've spent countless sleepless nights creating. I want to make something meaningful. Something that people will play and think "Wow... Just wow"(in a good way...).
It's not a thought I expected to have but I'm not complaining!
Every session I attended was great in one way or another. No matter if it was a talk on new enemies in Halo 4, the design of humour in Borderlands 2 or Game Statistics, they were all very interesting and engaging.
That last word there is the key; engaging. People go to talks to learn, to have fun or to simply view another's opinion. Either way people go to engage on one person and to truly listen to what that person has to say. Now I don't class myself as a great public speaker and the idea of having more than five people sit down and listen to me talk about a desired topic seemed alien to me last week. However seeing the speakers give their talks has changed my viewpoint entirely. I want to be on that stage giving a talk on a topic I'm passionate about and that others want to hear.
At the end of the conference, I actually walked up onto the stage and took pictures from the speakers perspective. I can only imagine the feeling of having so many people hanging onto your every word. This is something I now aspire to and at some point, it will happen.
I could go on and on about other elements but I feel like I've rambled enough. In short somewhere along the line something happened at GDC which has put me in a whole new positive mindset! Fingers crossed for GDC 2014!!
As an added bonus I managed to attend a talk from a former destructoid writer and perhaps more than that, someone who has inspired me to work in this industry. Mr Anthony Burch!
I was honoured to get the chance to talk to him and Ashly, they're two very cool people!
(excuse the quality)
I'm not usually one to write about this type of thing so I've definitely gone beyond the normal "this is what I've been doing" and branches to "now I know what I want to do".
It's a good feeling.