GDC is full of ‘ultimately stupid’ ideas says EA’s Barnett

EA Mythic’s creative designer Paul Barnett has criticized the annual Game Developers Conference, slamming it for being a “combative” experience where narrow-mindedness and boredom runs riot. He also wants GDC to be hosted by a dancing bear wearing a fez. He never said that bit, but who doesn’t want that?

“I’m not going to GDC because it’s combative, it’s a peacock display and it’s full of people who do what I do or want to do what I do or are doing what I do and don’t want me to do it anymore. It’s not open-minded. It’s very narrow-minded. We’re all talking about the same thing. We’ve all sharpened our knives for years at it, so we get into … well, not a fight, but it’s always about the same things.

We talk about design, mechanics, philosophy of design. All I was going to hear about was: WoW and the Activision merger. Whether Spore is going to be any good. How do I get into the games industry? Would you like a job? You’re going to be fired. Why don’t you start a label?

While that’s interesting, it’s not interesting enough. It confuses me. I have to start to explain things I find blindingly obvious. I have to listen to people who say things which I find ultimately stupid. And I have to pay attention to people I don’t want to pay attention to.

That’s a huge lump of disillusion if I’ve ever seen one. So, GDC = boring and stupid peacock display. That’s surprising, as I always felt we had some good stuff coming out of that conference, and really, are other shows any better? I can’t imagine E3 being anything less than all of the above. That said, until the GDC organizers get a dance instructor, a bear, a fez and the desire to make all our dreams a reality, GDC will never live up to its potential.

James Stephanie Sterling