Cogswell students from all majors are working hard in preparation for this year’s Game Developer Conference, or GDC.
GDC is an annual event held in San Francisco for anyone passionate about games and game development. It’s the place to meet new people, try new games, and learn about the industry through presentations and other special events. This year, GDC runs from March 19 to March 23, and Cogswell plans on establishing a strong presence so that its students can succeed.
GDC is important for many reasons. Above all, it’s a wonderful opportunity to network and meet other people in the industry. “It’s a huge get-together for anyone in the gaming industry to come together to share ideas,” says GDE student Ethan Ching. “Thousands of people come together and you’re able to talk to everyone. Everyone shares the same passion about gaming. It’s pretty awesome.” This year’s GDC won’t be Ching’s first. He plans to use knowledge gained from his past experiences to help him prepare for this year’s conference. Like Ching, many students believe that it is beneficial to have attended the event in the past in order to prepare for this year. “I should be able to network and talk to more people since I’m going three days,” Ching tells the Chronicle.
Many first-time attendees go only on the Friday of the event to get a good sense of what it really is. “For new people, I highly recommend [that] if it’s your first time, just go on the Friday, and make plans from there,” says Ching. Friday is the most popular and low-cost day for students to attend. Game Design student Samantha Silvers gives her insight on her first GDC experience: “It was less of a go in and get hired, more of a go in, see what it’s like, and next year, prep better.” According to Silvers, those who are attending GDC for the first time could benefit from the opportunity to explore, learn, and take note of what they need to do to be ready for the following year.
Arthur Brandao, another Cogswell GDE student, is excited to return after attending last year. “Last year, I only had a Game Jam game under my belt,” he tells us, “I have a few more now that I can kind of showcase and get reviewed and get advice on what works and what doesn’t.” Not only has he had time to build his portfolio, but he’s worked out a new plan to present himself to developers and potential employers. “This year, I’m redoing my business card . . . I feel like I’ve grown in my skills [by] taking classes, and I feel like my business card reflects that,” says Brandao. “Also, one of the things I’m doing is putting together a website so I can showcase all the work I’ve done since last year and converting some of our games to make them playable online.”
While making business cards is a smart move for advertising yourself and your work, Silvers plans to use a more unique and modern way of presenting herself and her work. “It’s much more important to have the tablet or a small laptop with an image on it, especially if you’re an art student. [Have] some visual of what you do instead of just talking about it, because then it makes you more memorable,” she mentions. In a world where technology is improving at rapid rates, it’s beneficial to use it to your advantage to help you stand out, especially in a place where tons of people are looking to make themselves known. With or without a business card, most students agree that having their own website and a LinkedIn profile are necessary, and it’s important to keep them updated and professional.
While it may not sound like a lot of work, any student attending GDC can attest to the difficulty and stress of preparation. Each student faces their own obstacles that they must overcome before the conference. Arthur Brandao, for example, spends a lot of time making decisions about the way he plans to present his work. “You want to keep things clean,” he tells us, “you’re trying to find that sweet spot between memorable without being over the top, without being too childish or extra.”
With midterm exams and GDC occuring within the same few weeks, focusing on both simultaneously can be rough for students. Students like Ethan Ching, however, finds building games to be the most time-consuming task of GDC preparation, but he doesn’t let that stop him from enjoying his passion. “For me, I like making games, so the entire process is fun,” he says. Regardless of any setbacks, the hard work and determination of Cogswell students allows them to persevere.
Because GDC is important to all students, Cogswell plans to have a booth set up at the event for the first time in a while. “We used to go often, and then it kind of stopped, and now we’re trying to go every year,” says Cogswell’s Marketing and Social Media Coordinator, Elizabeth Pagan. “We have an actual presence at GDC.” The presence of Cogswell is important for letting people know about the college, but the main motivation is being able to support the students. “Getting our students into the professional world is the most important thing,” says Pagan. The goal is to help them reach out into the industry and find opportunities for future employment.
Throughout the preparation process, students are not only focused on the present, but the future, including the future of gaming. Everyone is eager to find out what will be big in the industry for the next year. “Last year it was a lot of VR, and so I’ll be excited to see if this year it’s going to be more VR, or AR, or if we’re going back to traditional games,” says Silvers. Not only can attending GDC give you a heads up for what will be popular in games, but it can also give you connections with people you normally don’t get to talk to. “A lot of times after all the halls close, a lot of the people that are there to go out and enjoy the city, and they’ll have parties and go out to bars, and that’s where you can really get to talk to some people that you wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to talk to,” says Brandao, who’s looking forward to such opportunities.
In the long term, making friends and connections with new people is an excellent way to gain support and expand your network, and GDC is a perfect place to do just that. The process of making business cards, organizing portfolios, and ensuring everything you bring is presentable can be stressful, but good things tend to come from hard work. GDC is a great opportunity for Cogswell students to showcase all their talents, network, and find a pathway into the industry they’ve studied to be in. Hopefully, those attending GDC this year achieve all they hope for and more.