Monday, March 19, 2007

GDC 2007: Event highlights and thoughts on the future

OK, final post on GDC (I think. No promises). Some miscellanous notes on the conference this year, and some thoughts on directions for GDC.

  • I was looking at a friend's GDC blog post and realized that - Holy Cow! - I never even set foot on the show floor this year. Was it in the west hall? north hall? I don't even know! I did walk through one of hte smaller booth areas on the way to/from the MS suite, but that's it. First time in the 13 years I've attended (of course, my first year the show floor was about a dozen 8' draped tables and that's it).
  • Something weird happened over the past year to where about one third of the time people introduced me to someone they knew by saying "This is Kim, he blogs at...", and the other two thirds of the time was "This is Kim, he works at Microsoft doing...". That totally threw me for a loop. I thought there were only a couple dozen people that read this thing. Anyhow, neat.
  • Greg Costikyan's Maverick Award acceptance speech is a thing of beauty.
  • Justin's 'Passively Multiplayer Online Game' poster session. Lots of unsolved problems (he griped about how many times he was asked "how can it be monetized?"), but the guy is onto something.
  • I attended the Second Life party. OK, the second lifers are as nuts in person as in the metaverse. The piped-in-dj-from-second-life was kinda cool. Being lewdly accosted by a second lifer at the bar was strangely uncool (uh, "I love you" is no way to greet a nice canadian boy like me!). I have a theory that some of the attendees were from of SL's more questionable online 'businesses'. Makes for interesting parties anyway.
  • The minna mingle (casual games assoc party) was cool, but the hidden secret was the rockin DJ/guitarist combo (Chris Clouse and DJ Solomon) and ensuing party playing at Slide next door. Way better than any show party :-).
  • Espetus is most awesome restaurant every for low-carb folk. "You sit at a table. A river of unending charbroiled meats approaches. You have a green and red wheel, a cocktail, and a fried plantain." Sounds like it should be a snippet from Kingdom of Loathing.

Thoughts on GDC

Overall, Raph sums it up nicely, and I agree with his points.

  • The "infusion of E3" that happened came in three forms. (1) E3-esque booths and product exhibits (I have to wonder whether some people really think through WHY they are exhibiting at a show and considering who their audience is). (2) Press looking for hints as to next Xmas' stuff have always been interested in GDC, but perhaps now are thinking this is last chance for a while, and (3) all the E3 business meetings just packed up and moved to GDC. It's this last one that is killing GDC for me. I really want to attend GDC for the sessions and networking. Not to spend more than half the time in a meeting room. Now, granted, that's my job, but a balance needs to be struck, or I need to find somewhere else to get the mind-expanding bit of GDC.
  • The size of the conference is making the networking/social bits difficult. Spreading things out to a couple halls doesn't help. GDC Prime doesn't help.
  • GDC Prime rubbed me the wrong way for a couple reasons. I heard mixed reviews from the couple attendees I spoke to, but am curious what others thought.

One more thing: I hinted at it in a softball way in the article, still think that GDC is at real risk of super-nova'ing like E3, Comdex, and other shows have. It's getting very expensive to attend, exhibit at, or cover. Segment- or market-specific conferences may be a better spend for many here. The issue isn't whether it's a valuable show. The question is whether it's the BEST use of money given teh choice.

As an example, GDC next year is moving to Feb. Which means there's a very real risk of it overlapping with Casual Connect (FKA Casuality) in Amsterdam. If that's the case, I very likely will NOT attend GDC for the first time in 14 years. Casuality is a better bang-for-the-buck show for me. (Of course MS as a corporation would likely do both, but I'm speaking from my personal POV).

Now, to Jamil, Kathy, and the others at GDC, this will seem like lunacy coming off the heels of the biggest-gdc-ever. Of course, that's the same kind of hubris that the owners of E3 had up until a year ago...

1 comment:

Mark DeLoura said...

Our nickname for that meat restaurant is "asbestos". It caught fire last year but seemed to bounce back pretty quickly. :-)