By John Walker on March 21st, 2014 at 10:00 pm.
I normally make it further before GDC breaks me. It’s normally Friday before I lose track of time, space and consciousness. This time it happened on Wednesday, and it’s now somehow Friday and I’ve not written the diaries for half the week. GDC eats you, until all of time is a blur of sessions, chats, games and walking through the hypnotising grids of San Francisco from diner to convention centre to Starbucks to diner to bed to diner to Starbucks to convention to diner…
But what an incredible time it is. It’s such a privilege to witness the uniting of the indie and mainstream developer worlds, watching paths cross, connections get made, ideas be inspired, and attend sessions designed to effect real, significant change in our strange industry.
Next week, which will somehow be conjoined to this week in an unbroken cruel way, will see my attempt to bring my cold-ridden bodysack into writing up much of what I’ve seen, played and been inspired by. I am genuinely looking forward to it, the way someone with a broken leg may look forward to going for a walk. I am in a spiral of tiredness that makes the concept seem so impossible. However, fortunately it hasn’t prevented my being a misanthropic git, and as such, I have two new rules for GDC 2015, alongside WALKING DOWN THE DOWN ESCALATORS YOU LAZY BASTARDS, and removing lanyards when in a different zipcode from the convention center.
First up, no top hats. No, this is really an issue. There are so many people wearing top hats. Some have steampunked them, some haven’t, and all are to receive one final warning before a lifetime ban. Last year there was a plague of fedora-like hats, something dangerously encouraged by Notch, and then entirely out of control. I’m not sure what happened in the year since to see this evolve to top hats, but NO. No no no.
Secondly, waxed moustaches. This, perhaps like the top hat, must have felt like that guy’s ‘thing’. Turns out this year it’s every other guy’s ‘thing’. People have to think of something more distinctive to do with their facial hair next year. Can I suggest weaving in beads? Or maybe some sort of moustache-mohawk?
What I’m trying to do, essentially, is stopp game developers from turning into ringmasters. It’s what I’m here for.
I must also chronicle one of my favourite moments this year. I went to buy one of the amusingly overpriced bottles of soda from the stall in Moscone North, and spotting an attendee busily chatting away with the splendid lady behind the counter, rearranging the barrier ribbons that established the queuing. Listening in, I quickly realised that he was redesigning her level. He’d spotted pathfinding issues, and was fixing them, laying it out differently to better channel the player through. Explaining his thinking to the lady, she – without sarcasm – gave him the benefit of the doubt saying, “You’re the game designer, hon.” The gamification of game conventions. Only at GDC.
The other phenomenon of this place is it’s the first time I’ve seen Google Glass in the wild. I’d like to offer some pragmatic thought on this matter: it looks very silly. I’m really not sure why they’re not designed to be more inconspicuous, to just look like a pair of glasses. (Well, I can think of mean reasons why people would want to make sure everyone else knows they’re wearing Google Glass, but I like to try to avoid being judgy – you know me.) I can’t stop myself from staring, however. I just want to know what they see. What insight do they have that I do not? Can they see my underwear? And information about from where I bought my underwear?
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