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GDC Inviting Press in the Future

February 27th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · GDC, Me, Media

Kotaku is reporting that future editions of DICE and GDC will be going invite only with press registration. Concerned about the growing size of the conference and the vanishing developer culture of the annual event, Jamil Moledina thinks that something has to be done to get GDC back under control.

“It’s meant to be a networking event for people who make games, but more and more we are seeing a lot of individuals who are obtaining press credentials who aren’t full-time press. It’s kind of open to being spoofed, in a way.”

I’m naturally torn. I’ve only been to GDC twice, with a couple of years between those cons. And I could already see how much the conference had changed. It was moving from an almost academic professional event to one with more attendees, more marketing and more people showing off gadgets and games. And I liked the smaller one better.

But let’s face it. I’m not going to be invited to these things. I’m a full time freelancer, but at the low end of name recognition. Unless someone I write for is told “You can send three people. Pick who you want.” and I’m chosen, it’s very unlikely that I’ll get a chance to attend a really interesting event that lets me further appreciate how games are made. (I’ve never been to E3, but I’ve never been convinced that it was really my scene, in any case.)

Still something had to be done, I suppose. Just like E3 was becoming a mass culture event out of all proportion to the business that had to be done there, GDC shouldn’t be transformed into something that betrays the original vision of a convention designed for exchange of ideas and best practices. Loyd Case makes the point well in his recent column.

At one point, I was sitting in the press room, listening to someone from the gaming press lament about how technical the sessions were. Where were the cool game demos, he asked?…So here’s my proposal: someone needs to revive E3 in a real way, so the majority of the fanboy gaming have somewhere to go to ooh and ahh at the latest explosions and pretty colors. I’m not trying to paint the entire gaming press in that vein. The Games for Windows (formerly Computer Gaming World) guys have been going to GDC practically since it was in Chris Crawford’s living room. But there sure seemed to be a lot of fairly clueless gaming journalists who really just wanted to see the next cool game.

The openness of GDC has always been one of its big selling points. Indie developers rub shoulders with AAA bigshots, lots of casual conversation, etc. As the conference got bigger, it kept the openness but the size really worked against getting things done. People were overscheduled, publishers threw parties to make big announcements, etc. So I understand why Moledina thinks they have to do what E3 has already done and keep the unwashed press to a manageable size.

I guess I’ll have to use this announcement as an incentive to become a big shot media mogul.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • steve

    You can make the case that the press shouldn’t be invited to GDC at all… which of course I would’ve hated as a member of the press and am now a lot more OK with as developer scum. But it is a “developers” conference; it wasn’t really intended to be a media event.

    I attended my first GDC about 12-13 years ago, I think. It was at a hotel in San Jose. There was a water balloon fight in the lobby between Dani Bunten and others. There were only a few members of the press there… of course it was the CGDC, not GDC (c for “computer”), so it was pretty much the CGW people, myself, and the international print press.

  • Alan Au

    I’m sort of disappointed since it will keep out a lot of good industry pundits that care about development. (Yes Troy, you’re a “pundit” now.)

    I guess I would rather see GDC go back to basics and focus on development, so that the only press that would be legitimately interested would be the ones covering developers, not just games.

    That said, the conference has indeed been overrun in recent years by enthusiast “press” looking for the the latest news about upcoming games, which is totally not the purpose of GDC at all.

  • steve

    If they say it’s not a press show, they could just ask the press to pay for the show like everyone else. Or volunteer to work it.

    I was tempted to try to get a press pass this year, since it’s probably the last one I where I could fake it. But it’d still cost me a few hundred bucks out of pocket to fly down, get a hotel, etc.

    GDC was actually worse a few years ago, with serious game booths and such… I think that was its last years in San Jose. At that time, it scaled back because it didn’t want to be a mini-E3.

  • Alan Au

    Yeah, that was probably the last time I went. I haven’t been since, partly because when it was in SJ I had free lodging.

    So Troy, if you want to go next year but don’t want to foot the hefty bill, you could always go the volunteer route; it’s work, but Corvus and I will vouch for you. ;)

  • Kieron Gillen

    Never been, despite over a decade of wanting to.

    Games journalism is rubbish.