This year I will attend my 13th Game Developers Conference in California. Over the years I have attended many informative sessions - starting with the most memorable in 1996: Brian Moriarty's 'The Point Is'.
Back in the late 90s the conference was still called the Computer Game Developers Conference (CGDC) with the conference proceedings printed and bound. Most of the papers were presented in the typical academic proceedings style - but The Point had a meandering hand-written paper that purposefully defied conventions.
The talk itself was more a performance art piece than a typical conference presentation. Like many of the most interesting talks at GDC, what made it special was that it encouraged you to think.
Whether you thought about the specific topic at hand, or merely began thinking more deeply or clearly about another problem that you were facing was unimportant. The fact was, it inspired something in many of the attendees. As I prepare my talk for the Outsourcing Summit this month, I can only hope to inspire as well.
The conference has grown and changed over the years, as it moved from Santa Clara to Long Beach to San Jose and eventually to San Francisco - yet it has always been an important check point to reconnect with old colleagues and meet with new potential partners. The industry grows and consolidates, yet many of the same core people remain and appear year after year.
In recent years more of my time at GDC has been spent in meetings than attending sessions. As the conference has grown, the lobby of the Fairmont may have given way to the more formal Game Connection, but many meetings are still imprompteau encounters in the hallways, streets and lobbies surrounding the show. I do miss the more intimate, trapped nature of San Jose, though the conference had clearly outgrown that venue.
This year I also look forward to the second GDC China this October in Shanghai. GDC has not only outgrown San Jose, it has also outgrown the USA.