Conclusions after my visit to the largest game developers convention in the world.
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, is one of the most important video game events in the world. I was lucky enough to be able to attend and show our games there (2016), so I want to share with you my experience (which was overwhelming in a very good sense).
We arrived one day earlier, before the event even started. The group consisted of Lex Garza (Authentic Illusions Director), Ricardo Rocha (Games Starter's CEO, our publisher) and me (Fat Panda’s director). In all our enthusiasm and excitement for the week, we almost lost our flight. So my first advice would be: don’t be overconfident, be prepared for everything, especially if you are traveling from a place far from the US.
We prepared our stand. We had our check list in hand and everything was ready for the event: computers, HDMI cables, battery chargers, etc. Our bodies were ready.
What can I say? I got to meet all the devs I previously followed on the web, magazines and blogs. I got to attend conferences, events and all sorts of parties from the companies. All I can say is, prepare for the unexpected. You may have a plan all laid out for the week (you can check most of the events on Event Brite or forums related to the GDC), but there are always surprises and invitations you aren’t expecting!
If you are there to show your project, remember to bring lots of presentation cards, demos and just be there all the time. Not to mention attend all the conferences and the parties (there are lots of those!) that you possibly can. This may be very exhausting, but all the networking and people you’ll meet are well worth it (and really, that’s the whole point of going to GDC anyway).
So, what can you gain from attending an event like this? A lot! but you must know your objective. Having your own stand can bring you a lot of exposure to the media and publishers, but it can be quite expensive. Your location is also very important. If you want consumers and your final users to check you out, you should be in the Indie Mega Booth, but if you’re a company offering a specific service (such as publishing or localization), I think the General Booth may be better for you.
You should also make some time to just explore and look at everything, you never know, you may find someone useful to you! Maybe you’ll find that animator your project needs, or maybe that Steam rep that can help you with your questions! There’s also all kinds of new technologies and applications that may inspire you! (there were lots of VR an 3D printing in this one).
In the end, I’m glad I was there. I’m eager to see what they’ll show in 2017 (although, IMHO, I hope to see a little less VR).