As part of Gamasutra's preview of this year's Game Development Conference, Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra editor Simon Carless gives his top five tips for surviving this year's conference:
"1.) Remember to travel to the correct city. This may seem fairly simple, but in 2004 (when the show was in San Francisco for the first time instead of its longtime San Jose home), one infamous Gamasutra.com contributor took the bus down to Silicon Valley instead of the city by the Bay.
And according to the event’s operations staff, one poor and unfortunate attendee of a similar CMP conference ended up in San Jose, Costa Rica one year, after the person booking his travel made a rather regrettable mistake.
2.) See the celebrities, but also be practical. By this, I mean that you may be tempted to spend the entire GDC gravitating toward sexy game industry notables, who will give stimulating talks about shaping games from the top down.
But if you’re a graphics programmer, don’t miss out on a vital lecture about shaders just because the speaker isn’t as well known. It might behoove you to turn up to those sessions as well—but you knew that already!
3.) Meeting people is easy. This may be obvious. And we’re all adults here. The fact is GDC attracts likeminded people to, well, you! I’ve always found the parties, whether they be an Expo Booth Crawl or Suite Night, which are open to all, or the more rarified limited-entrance parties, to be filled with people who genuinely care about the game business and who will not object if you talk to them to this end.
So don’t wimp out, get out! But watch out for the Harmonix employees lurking around the Guitar Hero
machines, waiting to thrash all comers, though. They’re ringers, one and all.
4.) Leave time for the expo floor. Sometimes people forget that the expo closes at 3 p.m. on Friday, and especially this year, there will be a wealth of good tools company, international pavilions, and even the Independent Games Festival Pavilion hanging out there. As a rare opportunity to check out tools and middleware with hands-on demonstrations, it’s appreciated by game professionals of all kinds.
5.) Take some time to see San Francisco (only don’t call it “ ’Frisco” or “San Fran,” please). Sightseeing may seem a little odd, given that the point of being at GDC is to immerse oneself in video game creation, but often, attendees from out of town don’t stray outside a five block radius of the convention center, and I personally think that’s a shame.
Try to make it to the Presidio, or Golden Gate Park, or any number of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods. You could even drive down the coastal highways to the San Jose Tech Museum or to Santa Cruz, if you give yourself an extra day and a small car rental allowance."
[This story originally appeared in the February 2007 GDC preview issue of Game Developer magazine.]