I’ve never been to GDC, essentially because doing so has never been comfortably compatible with my home life. Every year I feel bluer and bluer about this, which is partly because every year seems to involve everyone who did go declaring it to be the best one ever, and partly because it’s grown into this impossibly fabulous thing in my mind.
This is what I think GDC is like:
- Warren Spector spots you the second you enter the show floor, smiles and beckons you into a sideroom, where he proudly shows off the new immersive sim he’s been working on for kicks. “Oh, I probably won’t release it, but I just thought you’d like to see it.”
- On-the-spot bearhugs from anyone who recognises your name
- It’s one big party all the time. I dance rather than walk to meetings, and when I do enter them it’s high fives all round. And maybe there’s a little bowl of Twiglets in there too.
- My interview questions aren’t met with prepared, practiced, pleasant-but-evasive PR lines, but heart-warming honesty and openness. I come home with stories to tell, rather than marketing to interpret.
- I play a million billion amazing games I’d never heard of before. And actually play, not just get shown pre-rendered trailers for by a slick guy with lots of gel in his slick hair.
- I am festooned with amazing job offers. None of which I take, of course, but it’s nice to feel wanted.
- Games are everywhere. PCs, consoles, arcade machines just lying around, you turn it on and it's all "hey, what's this cool thing?"
- Vegetarian food is everywhere (in contrast to GamesCom, which I’ve been to many times, and always struggled to find anything that doesn’t have sausage in it).
- Anyone who says "monetise" or "gameify" is immediately escorted off the premises.
- I try out some amazing new VR tech and end up just living inside it forever, happy as can be. Better than life.
- I get invited to parties. (It’s been a while.)
- A rolling reminder that games are good and surprising and brave and diverse and non-cynical, and that the vast majority of the people who make and play them are good-hearted and culturally curious, and that the toxicity and entrenchment we often see online comes from just a tiny, angry minority.
The last one might even be true.
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