GDC and the value of our lives

As Randy readies himself for the coming Game Developer's Conference, he looks back on last year's events.
So I'm writing this while I still have time before GDC's massive gathering of developers. That godly mess was both inspiring and humbling last year. You realize how little one person can be in that crowd of thousands, and I cannot even imagine the numbers that do not or cannot attend. But you also realize how many people share your passion for games, whether seeking fame, fortune, or something more.

I volunteered last year and I am doing the same this year. Last year I traveled from Boston and crashed in a friend's apartment for a few hours each night. This year I am living across the bay in Berkeley. Last year I attended a few different parties and got to talk to people who had roused my spirits at the Indie Games Summit (such as Jonatan "Cactus" Söderström, who was quiet and told me he was totally disgusted by realistic violence, which made me contemplate the difference between his violent unrealistic games and those oh-so-violent mainstream AAA realistic titles). This year I plan on attending as many parties.

There was one thing in last year's events that stood out to me more than any other occurrence. I do not know how many people noticed it, but Todd Howard, the director of Fallout 3, upon receiving the award for Game of the Year, talked about how he once again missed his family vacation with his growing children. His wife had asked, as he was finishing the game for release and she was leaving with the children for vacation, if it was worth it. Then he held up the award and walked off the stage with his team. I was so struck by that moment. I still cannot say how he felt, but it seemed the most bittersweet moment to me.

What are we doing with our lives? What do we want from our lives? Is our drive to create the masterpieces that shape the world? Do AAA titles redefine who we are? Do indie games affect us immeasurably? Is that what we want? Is it more important than the people in our lives? Are the people we care most about, are they the men "in the trenches" and cubicles beside us?

I do not know the answer to these questions, and I know each person would answer differently. But I am thankful that in my development career so far, the people I have worked with and under have recognized the importance of our lives beyond games and encouraged my other sides. Games drive us, but they cannot take us everywhere. And with that extra mile beyond the limits of games, we have that much more under the hood when we get back on the road of development.

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