Ramblings of General Geekery

GDC 2018 Recap

So that happened – I went to my second GDC and this time I presented something. Look at how shiny my forehead is!

Big thanks to the Toolsmiths guys (Geoff and David) for organizing a full day summit dedicated to tools programming – a topic that I always thought was lacking a proper worldwide community the same way, say, graphics rendering or animation have. Not only did I have the chance to present my talk as part of that “Tools Tutorial Day”, but I had the honours of being the inaugural talk!

The room was packed the whole day, so you can bet there will be more tools programming shenanigans next year.

Oh, and my talk is now available on the GDC Vault if you have access.

Here are some notable things that happened this year:

  1. These conferences are always a good opportunity to catch up with friends and acquaintances, but this year I got to meet a bunch of really cool new people through all the tools programming talks and roundtables. I’m hoping to run into them again in the future, which means I’m looking forward to next year!
  2. Speaking of roundtables, I went to more of them this year, instead of going to talks. I was just lurking for most of them, however, being somewhat paralyzed by social anxiety and the difficulty of talking about stuff that I didn’t directly work on myself. I’ll have to speak up more next year.
  3. Stephanie Hurlburt inspired a bunch of older devs like me to allocate some time to meet with newbies who might have questions or just want to get to know people in the games industry. I met with 5 people through that Twitter thread and I hope I had some interesting or useful things to say to them. I still have some follow-up to do with a few of them next week.
  4. When you’re a presenter, you’re invited to a lot more parties. I went to more parties in a week than I did in my entire high-school years. I’ll probably go to less parties next time, since I didn’t care for half of them… just like back in high-school, I guess.
  5. There’s always one last edit you can do to your presentation before the big day. I think I got off lucky to have mine on the very first day, on the very first time slot!
  6. I went to a couple events and talks about “black people in gaming”, but I kinda felt out of place – first, I’m only half-black, and second a lot of those things are really about being black in the United States, which is a whole different level from being black in Canada or in France (where the racism and xenophobia is primarily aimed at other groups). Still, I got a hug from Tanya so that was cool.
  7. I got to see Lord British and Blackthorne for real. Their Ultima Online post-mortem was brilliant.
  8. I also got to see a talk about interactive music in games which ended with the presenter picking up a guitar and harmonica to perform one of the songs from his game. I guess I’ll have to find some really awesome gimmick for my next talk.
  9. I went to a talk about the “depiction of war in games” which was pretty interesting. Rolling Stone later picked up one of the presenter’s quotes to make a clickbaity title that got some backlash on Twitter. You should still watch the talk if you can, though, since it made a couple good points about the role of media and entertainment in society.
  10. Speaking of depressing subjects, the amount of human misery you see around San Francisco is staggering. I live in Vancouver, though, where we have the Downtown Eastside which also has a pretty shocking amount of homeless people.
  11. Some people are calling for GDC to be hosted outside of the US, which I would really welcome.
  12. When walking around the conference, the social etiquette is to not make eye contact with someone that might be trying to read your name tag – they will catch you catching them, and then quickly run away, probably scarred for life.
  13. The dress code, however, is pretty convoluted – one thing is certain, however: if you want to spend some time near the indie gaming booths, you need some cool outfit and blue hair.

And that’s it! I took a few days around the long Easter week-end to rest from the trip…

I hope you’re all doing fine too!