Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not a Great Track Record: GDC 2014

Another year, another Game Developer's Conference, or GDC.  This was my fifth GDC, and for the four previous conferences, I've written long summaries of each day, night, and session I attended, but this year, I'm going to forgo this tradition.  This GDC was, simply put, a letdown.


No Goal

Part of the reason this GDC was such a letdown is that I went in without a goal.  My first, which also left me with a bittersweet feeling, GDC was similar.  I should have had a better goal in mind whether it was to learn a platform, meet a specific person, etc., but I didn't really act on any of this.  On my flights to San Francisco, I said, "Oh, I'll try and be inspired," since my job and the book were starting to wane on me creatively.  Was I inspired at the end?  Probably a little but not in the way I was desiring.


Day 2 Depression

Day 1 of GDC was actually pretty good.  It wasn't great, for example, the Casual Design Roundtable, which I enjoyed a previous year, felt like a mess this time around.  Also, I went to an ID@Xbox programming talk that I actually left early -- which I believe was a first for me -- for being so dull.  The audio talk about Killer Instinct was awesome though.  Overall, I was feeling inspired and excited, but day two was a mess for me.
The rants did a number on my self confidence and outlook on the industry's future.  Then a talk about the negative personalities encountered on the internet when creating things -- games, videos, etc. -- and though it did discuss how to handle them very well, the fact that such ugly things exists, bummed me out.
Finally, I went to a talk about preventing depression and it, instead, depressed me.  I was already depressed the way it was, and this was the last talk that helped.
I think the two things that had made me so depressed were my drunken antics the prior nights.  I was embarrassed, but I didn't even really do anything that bad.  I wasn't the guy who was kicked out of the Sony party.  I went to the Unity party (and was not kicked out).  I guess I felt a bit like I was piggybacking off of the parties and had nothing to offer them.  In fact this was posted in a Facebook group about parties at GDC:

Also, I didn't use those networking events to do any networking or very little.  I guess as a whole, if I were just going to go to take advantages of parties, why did I even waste my time at the sessions and expo?  This thought made me upset; it should have been the other way around.
The other thing that upset me though is that a talk on day one that did inspire me made me feel like the only way I'm going to accomplish things that I want, I have to quit my current job.  Now I'm NOT going to do this, at least not now.  The thought of doing so really depressed me.  I'd be leaving a lot of great people, but I can't continue to work on projects that make me feel so creatively unfulfilled.  Also, the thought of going indie is frightening to me.  I've been in a rather comfortable situation for awhile now, and suddenly I'd be in one where my personal projects like Battle High HAVE to make money, and so far, my track record hasn't been to great.
Overall, by day 3, the damage was done.  The Experimental Gameplay Workshop had some interesting projects and games.  These helped inspire me a little but really only balanced my feelings.  I felt the same way I did when I left Pittsburgh to when I came back.


Last GDC?

Will this be my last GDC?  Probably not.  Will I go to GDC next year?  That's the better question.  I would have gotten more enjoyment out of just visiting San Francisco during this week than attending the conference. When compared to Unite 2013, this conference felt like a waste of money.  I got so much more out of a conference that was more specialized to one particular aspect of games than this entire conference.  Also, as an introverted person (at times), the number of people at GDC can be rather overwhelming and networking always feels like an uncomfortable act of feigning interest.
 Overall, I think choosing a better goal and choosing different sessions -- which I always have a knack for picking a lot of terrible ones -- would have improved my experience as a whole.  As I return to work, finish the book I am writing, and continue Battle High work, I'll have to see how my future develops.

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