GDC: A Guide To The 2008 GDC Summits

So, the main GDC doesn't start until Wednesday, right? What's all this 'summit' stuff on Monday and Tuesday, then? Game Developer's Brandon Sheffield outlines some of the notable Monday-Tuesday mini-summits, ahead of the start of our coverage.
[So, the main GDC doesn't start until Wednesday, right? What's all this 'summit' stuff on Monday and Tuesday, then? Game Developer's Brandon Sheffield outlines some of the notable Monday-Tuesday mini-summits, ahead of the start of our coverage.] Since the Game Developers Conference (part of CMP, like Gamasutra) has grown to be rather large, individual summits serve to fit the needs of specific markets, and these two-day sessions allow a more intimate environment within the larger scope of GDC. While the Worlds In Motion conference is discussed on a larger scale due to this year being its debut, the rest are no less important. Worlds In Motion Summit Thanks to the success of as a web site, we've been looking for new ways to bring our readers more information and insight about online worlds. In that vein, we'll be hosting the first-ever Worlds In Motion Summit on Monday and Tuesday. The summit will focus on the intersection of online worlds and games, tailored for the growing number of industry professionals and Fortune 500 companies developing interactive online spaces for both entertainment and commercial purposes. Discussion will delve into online worlds, social gaming and media and player-created activity. This will provide insight for developers of all backgrounds into how the game industry is collectively building socialization into games and integrating personalization and player-generated content into gameplay, while widely accessible Web and networking tools are looking to the game industry for their way forward. Above all, the Worlds In Motion Summit's goal is to provide a grounded, hype-free collaborative environment to identify and discuss the new ideas that have surfaced from an era of virtual worlds, and what they have to teach us about the evolution of gaming, with insight and experience from revolutionary trailblazers in the field. GDC Mobile The stalwart GDC Mobile hosts more than 50 sessions, panels, and lectures into cellphone gaming on Monday and Tuesday this year, continuing to push the "we're the future, really!" angle (nobody's buying it, folks! Kidding!). Major issues this year include porting difficulties and solutions, creativity in design (why can't we make a game that's better than Tetris?), and mobile-specific 3D programming. Casual Games Summit The Casual Games Summit is in its fifth year now, and ever-more important as "casual games" bleed into all other categories -- mobile, downloadable console games, and PC portals. With everyone going after the mass market nowadays, it might be a good time to listen to the folks who have been aiming for it all along. The speaker lineup for this Monday and Tuesday event really is a who's who in the industry. Game Outsourcing Summit The Game Outsourcing Summit, which takes place only on the Tuesday of GDC, looks at the issues surrounding ... well, it's rather self-explanatory, isn't it? As frightening as the idea of outsourcing is, from both control and job security standpoints, large-scale games aren't getting any cheaper to make. There are ways to outsource bits of your game and wind up having more time to actually create, and this summit should help you find the sweet spot. Serious Games Summit The Serious Games Summit - held on Monday and Tuesday - is of increasing interest as more academics enter the space, with games for education striving to match the already established simulations subset. This provides the potential to combat the negativity games are often painted with by the mainstream media. As serious games evolve, so too does our ability to parlay with government entities. But with the number of games funded by the U.S. government, developers' reliance on them may increase as well. IGDA Summits The IGDA has two summits -- one on education, and another smaller one concentrating on governments and associations. There's a slight amount of crossover here with serious games, but both summits are very much from the developer advocacy side, in terms of setting up structures to deal with government, and support networks for game developers looking to transition into, or at least consult with academia. Independent Game Summit The Independent Game Summit had its successful start last year, and is rolling on into the future of shiny happy small-company bliss. The summit helps indies, new and old, come to grips with the downloadable world, and how to ground one's idealism in the horrors of reality. [This preview originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine, which is available in tote bags for all GDC attendees starting today.]

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