This year it was my first time attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC). To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it. When I searched for videos/coverage or blogs about it, it all felt really confusing. Once you are there, things click, and you start to understand the hype.
The most valuable things I was able to get from the event are the personal connections. We spend a lot of time online watching Twitter threads, Reddit posts, videos, and emails, but all those signals can only get you a general idea of the person behind the screen. Meeting people face-to-face is a whole different experience. While I already knew this from working remotely for many years, the difference this time was that everyone was there for the games. I spent countless hours talking about web development and design in the past, but games is something that I do almost exclusively online or with close friends.
This was also Godot’s first time having a booth at the GDC, and it was clear that everyone loved it. When pitching Godot to people who didn’t know about it, I was surprised to know how easy it is to sell something that’s free and open source. I didn’t have to dance around with words to convince people to buy something they don’t want. I just had to talk about what the engine is and most people who didn’t know about it were surprised to find out that it’s free (as in freedom and as in beer) and were eager to try it out.
Unfortunately, this sort of events are still very inaccessible for many people. The costs are really high, and the event is hosted in San Francisco. I’ve been to San Francisco before, but this time it felt like a post apocalyptic movie. Everything was extremely expensive, the homeless population was alarming, and the city felt unsafe. This is of course something that happens outside of the Moscone Center (where the event is hosted), but it is something that is packaged with the GDC experience. I’m not the first one to say this, but I believe the event should be hosted in a different city every year.
Overall, I would say that if you have the chance to go, you should definitely do it. No matter in which point of your career you are, you will get something out of it. I’m looking forward to next year, but in the meantime I’ll be working on some games, being around so many talented people was truly inspiring.