Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not At GDC

Another year, another not-going-to-GDC.

Last night a friend of mine stopped over at my place, as I live reasonably close to Heathrow Airport. And why, you may ask? Well he's off to GDC of course. Lucky so-and-so that he is.

I have never been to GDC, or indeed any of the major game conferences except for ECTS (which was always a bit of a shambles to give it its due). They always seem to come along at inconvenient moments, such as periods of high business or dudgeon in my job, or low activity on the financial front. Mostly, I think it's because I've not really remembered that they're on until way too late.

I also find the whole conference circuit vaguely unsettling. A lot of my past comes from the world of rpg conventions and the like, so I know what it is to waste time in a hotel in some far-flung town getting drunk and talking crap with strangers. I'm aware that professional events such as GDC or E3 also have the illusion of business about them, but I can't quite tell if they're actually just pretending to be busy, or whether work actually gets done at them. It's quite an important question when you're talking about laying down 3 grand for a trip over to Northern Cal, especially if that ticket is not being picked up by your employer (and most in the UK don't send batteries of people over any more, as it is a lot of money).

A large part of the games industry likes to behave like as though it's the movies, with the image of deals being done and reputations being made at some grand insider carnival. Yet when you step back and take a look at the outside world, there doesn't usually seem to be a great deal of effect from the main conferences except as PR posts for the truly giant to announce their next big things? What does a small company get from sending a field agent out there apart from contacts, and wouldn't those contacts be better developed in individual sessions, trips, meetings, Linkedins and the like? Is there any actual value to what amounts to the gaming version of Sundance? Gamedance?

Why go?

Well the party atmosphere has to count for something. And the inspiration value as well. You can't forget that. Plus there is the thrill of being there, watching things happen (or at least pretend to happen). See? It's like I'm already there, liveblogging the whole thing.

Next year I'll get there. Promise.

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