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This Developer's Life: GDC

So how did GDC go for this developer? Read on to find out.

James Portnow, Blogger

April 11, 2009

14 Min Read

This Developer’s Life: GDC

Dear Reader:

I’m sorry for having left you without a word last week.  In my folly I thought that somewhere during the course of GDC I was going be able to scrape together a few hours to write.  Once again I learnt that GDC is actually some ever hungry chronophage from whose cloying tendrils there is no escaping.

But I’m back this week - apparently having escaped the inescapable cephalopod – to fill you in on my adventures in San Fran. 

First off I just want to say this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UcVtFbX7WU&feature=related  <--- (this is supposed to be super awesome embeded video but I'm WAAAAAY to impatient to figure out how to embed in the blog...)

Yeah.  My GDC ended watching Tom Morello play with Steve Earle, Wayne Kramer (MC5), Sammy Hagar, Boots Riley (The Coup), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Joe Satriani, Spider Stacy (The Pogues) and Damian Kulash (OK Go).  It was completely insane.  Corey Taylor covered Play that Funky Music and Tom Morello sang M.I.A.’s Paper Planes, it was incredible…but we’ll get to all that in a moment.  First, GDC. 

GDC Proper:

We start out on a sad note: GDC was much smaller this year than it has been in years past.  You could feel the recession everywhere.  Lines at the recruiting booths were out the door.  Several companies started refusing to take resumes by day four.  I was asked for a job by several dozen people…some of whom I knew personally. 

The pomp was tamped down in the show floor and the exposition hall as well.  Of course there were the tragically objectified girls in white leotards at the Ngage booth but beyond that the only was the towering black monolith that was the OnLive booth to stupefy and amaze.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of OnLive.  They’re the folks trying to do away with the console/high end pc by doing all the crunching for games in the cloud and shooting you back streaming video of what you’re doing.  This will either make a billion dollars or chew through 100 million in VC funds,  but if they don’t flame out in the next few years I predict they’ll be huge. 

Anyway, back and to doom and gloom and people who have no chance at being successful… Did I already mention Ngage, oh yes, I did, moving on…

I was stuck in meetings most of this GDC so I honestly didn’t get to go to many of the talks.  I did get to see my lawyer speak about why Flagship sunk.  If you ever get to see a Steve Goldstein talk, go, it’ll probably be worth your while.  Oh and of course my speech was mind numbingly spectacular.

Seriously though, I think I have to give a shout out to Darius Kazemi (many of you may better know him as TinySubversions or “The Orange Shirt Guy) for inspiring fortitude.  The man was had no voice, literally couldn’t speak past a whisper by Wednesday night, yet still managed to drag himself to his speech (and from what I hear give a good one).  Oh and he’s running for the IGDA board and, even though I believe he’s technically my arch nemesis, y’all should vote for him: he’d make a fantastic addition to the board. 

GDC Improper…

So let’s get to what you all really want to hear about: the parties.  But first, a moment of silence for the CCP party, which didn’t occur this year due to the meltdown of the global economy and the utter collapse of all facets of Iceland, whose chief export at this point is, I believe… ISK.

(This joke would be funnier if A.  It wasn’t true and B.  ISK wasn’t also the abbreviation for the currency of Iceland, the Icelandic Krona).

The parties in general were lame this year.  I guess everyone felt that you shouldn’t follow up laying people off at Christmas with a big shindig.  On the up side this is makes 1 year in a row without a student from Full Sail vomiting on my shoes…  

Anyway, I went to the MS party, the Indie Games party, the Valve party, the Sony party, the IGDA party and a bunch of smaller ones that I can’t quite recollect, oh, and the speaker party.

MS/Sony &c. are fun for their size and the elaborate lengths they go to.  They usually smell like dudes, but you can probably score infinite free alcohol.  MS parties are also a good place to meet with D level or higher MS people.  

Indie Games parties are like indie music shows.  Most of the time the objective is to wear the whitest belt and look cooler than everyone else without saying anything.  I’m being a little rough on them, it was a good party but the music was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too loud to get any networking done. 

Valve’s good people.  Good people have good parties.  Nothing mind blowing but a good setting and some good people to talk to.  Again, smells like dudes.

IGDA, my understanding is that you go to the IGDA party to hit on college girls.  People tell me there are other reasons it exists, I have yet to figure them out. 

I ran myself out of business cards at the Speaker Party.  If you want to meet interesting people it’s worth getting yourself a speaking slot at GDC (despite all the headache it is to get a speech together).  This is honestly the place to be. 

Weirdest party of GDC award goes to the impromptu Flagship “Yay our company is dead” party that I hear occurred.

Now Back To What I Care About:

Rock.  Yes.  Rock.  

First off, Tom Morello’s new project (Streetsweeper I think) with Boots Riley sounds amazing.  They’re gonna be huge.

Second, and on a more serious note, going to that show at the end of GDC was the perfect event.  It was $15 at the door and all of that money went to charity.  The guys on stage had all been on the streets of SF early that day handing out burritos to the hungry and the homeless.  There was this moment when, from behind the lights, Morrello was shouting about how we can change the world and it just all clicked. 

What we’re doing now, what I saw at this conference, will shape the world’s first interactive mass media; the world’s first interactive art.  And in doing so we have the chance to shape the lives of millions, but more than that, we have the chance to do it well.  There is this weird idea that doing good and making a profit are at odds, but there is a great deal we can give back that costs us nothing, probably even makes us money, if we’re willing to put in the time and effort.

I won’t preach.  Anyone reading this can think of one thing that they can do.  I hope you act on it. 


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