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GDC gets bigger. But better?

September 21st, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

The recent announcement that the Game Developers Conference will double in size has some people drawing the conclusion that this will be the new E3. More floor space, an entire convention center, more expo style booths for new product and a Game Demo Theater.

I’ve been to one GDC (2005) and I really enjoyed it. I had a chance to meet people I worked with, did a lot of chatting with developers, and was astonished by how civilized the whole thing was. It was more like an academic conference than a gaming event, with panels, discussions and displays. There was a nice intersection between theory and practice, art and business. Plus there was the Independent Games Festival, which I was covering for DIY Games.

I’ve never been to E3 and never really tried too hard to finagle a reason to go. I’m a quiet kind of guy and I hate crowds, so the mosh pit atmosphere that seemed to surround the Expo would have given me a splitting headache on day one. I’m a game fan, for sure, and I watched the live video conferences of the Sony and Nintendo announcements (if only to make sense of threads like this) and it’s a professional responsibility to know what’s coming around the bend. Knowing and going are two very different things.

Now I’m fairly confident that GDC 2007 will not be the zoo that E3 has been. But if GDC coverage changes from reports on the panels and independent scene to reports on the latest RockStar game on display then I think that something will be lost. The GDC has always been a conference for developers and not marketers, but that might be changing.

I hope to finagle a way to GDC 2007. I had a great time two years ago, and the expansion of the Independent Games Festival to a conference within a conference is an excellent idea that is well worth covering. It’s too early to know how much bigger GDC can get without losing its mission, and I’m not quite ready to say that the sky is falling or that the barbarians are at the gate.

But if I have to trip over a single EB Assistant Manager to get to Will Wright’s talk, I will need to be seriously appeased.


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