Game Developers Conference

Last updated
Game Developers Conference
Game Developers Conference logo.svg
Official Logo of the Game Developers Conference
StatusActive
Genre Video game development
VenueVaries
Location(s)Varies
CountryVaries
InauguratedApril 1988;31 years ago (1988-04) (as Computer Game Developers Conference)
Organized by Informa
Website www.gdconf.com

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is an annual conference for video game developers.

Contents

The event has learning, inspiration, and networking. The event includes an expo, networking events, and awards shows like the Game Developers Choice Awards and Independent Games Festival, and a variety of tutorials, lectures, and roundtables by industry professionals on game-related topics covering programming, design, audio, production, business and management, and visual arts.

History

Outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco, 2019. GDC 2019.jpg
Outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco, 2019.

Originally called the Computer Game Developers Conference, the first conference was organized in April 1988 by Chris Crawford in his San Jose, California-area living room. [1] About twenty-seven designers attended, including Don Daglow, Brenda Laurel, Brian Moriarty, Gordon Walton, Tim Brengle, Cliff Johnson, Dave Menconi, and Carol and Ivan Manley. The second conference, held that same year at a Holiday Inn at Milpitas, attracted about 125 developers. Early conference directors included Brenda Laurel, Tim Brengle, Sara Reeder, Dave Menconi, Jeff Johannigman, Stephen Friedman, Chris Crawford, and Stephanie Barrett. Later directors include John Powers, Nicky Robinson, Anne Westfall, Susan Lee-Merrow, and Ernest W. Adams. In the early years the conference changed venue each year to accommodate its increases in size. Attendance in this period grew from 525 to 2,387. By 1994 the CGDC could afford to sponsor the creation of the Computer Game Developers Association with Adams as its founding director. Miller Freeman, Inc. took on the running of the conference in 1996, nearly doubling attendance to 4,000 that year. [2] In 2005, the GDC moved to the new Moscone Center West, in the heart of San Francisco's SOMA district, and reported over 12,000 attendees. The GDC returned to San Jose in 2006, reporting over 12,500 attendees, and moved to San Francisco in 2007 – where the organizers expect it will stay for the foreseeable future. Attendance figures continued to rise in following years, with 18,000 attendees in the 2008 event. [3] The 2009 Game Developers Conference was held in San Francisco, on March 23–27, 2009. [4] The IGDA awarded 25 scholarships to send qualified students to attend the 2009 GDC.

Crawford continued to give the conference keynote address for the first several years of the conference, including the famous "whip" speech in the early 1990s where he punctuated a point about game tuning and player involvement by cracking a bullwhip perilously close to the front row of the audience. Crawford also founded The Journal of Computer Game Design in 1987 in parallel to beginning the GDC, and served as publisher and editor of the academic-style journal through 1996.

During the late 1990s the conference expanded from its original strict focus on game design to include topics such as marketing and legal issues. [2]

The CGDC changed its name to "Game Developers Conference" in 1999. The GDC has also hosted the Spotlight Awards from 1997 to 1999, the Independent Games Festival since 1999 and the Game Developers Choice Awards since 2001. The GDC is also used for the annual meeting of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) is the first and largest competition for independent games, and highlights the innovative achievements of developers ranging in size from individuals building PC titles to studio teams creating console downloadable titles. A pool of judges from the game industry selects the finalists and winners, and the individual creators are named as the recipients of the awards. The IGF is managed and developed by UBM TechWeb, the organizer of the GDC.

GDC Main Stage, 2019 GDC Main Stage 2019.jpg
GDC Main Stage, 2019

The Game Developers Choice Awards is the game industry's only open, peer-based awards show. Any member of the IGDA may nominate games, and then the membership votes on the finalists. As with the IGF, the individual creators are named as the recipients of the awards. Specialty awards such as Lifetime Achievement and First Penguin are determined by the GDCA committee, and all are revealed at the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony at the GDC. The IGF and the GDCA are presented back to back, in an awards show produced by UBM TechWeb, typically on the Wednesday of the GDC.

UBM TechWeb has added several other events to the GDC in recent years. At the GDC Expo, developers display the latest techniques useful in game development. "GDC Mobile," first held in 2002, focuses on developing games for mobile phones. Starting in 2004, the GDC partnered with Game Connection to present Game Connection @ GDC, a live matchmaking service for developers and publishers, which in 2007 expanded to include Game Connection Services for outsourcing and other services. Starting in 2006, the GDC partnered with Video Games Live to feature their symphonic performance of videogame music as the closing night event. In addition, the GDC has hosted a number of conference-wide game experiments designed by GameLab. The 2017 GDC included a Board Game Design Day, featuring talks from developers and publishers of tabletop games on their design processes. [5]

UBM TechWeb has also produced several spinoff events. For example, the first GDC Europe (GDCE) was featured at the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in London between August 31 and September 1, 2001. Other GDC-related events include the Serious Games Summit, first held in 2004 as a GDC tutorial, and spun off as a standalone event in 2005, focusing on developing games for practical purposes, such as education, corporate training, military, and health care applications; and the Hollywood and Games Summit in conjunction with The Hollywood Reporter first held in June 2006. Additional events include the Game Advertising Summit, the Game Outsourcing Summit, the Game Career Seminar, GDC Russia, the China Game Summit, GDC London, the London Games Summit, the London Game Career Fair, and many others. In late 2006, UBM TechWeb acquired The Game Initiative, and now produces the Austin Game Developers Conference.

The 2020 GDC notably was the first to be fully postponed from its planned March 2020 dates, as a result of several companies having pulled out due to fears from the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. [6] However, by March 10, the organizers developed a scheme to run the GDC as a virtual conference on the same planned schedule using streaming media for nearly all scheduled events. [7]

GDC China

Recognizing the burgeoning games market in China, UBM TechWeb brought its flagship event to Shanghai in 2007. With the continued support of Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, GDC China is held in Shanghai annually and approached its fifth year in November 2012. GDC China has since been cancelled. [8]

IGF China

GDC China hosted the annual Independent Games Festival China (IGF China) from 2009, calling for entries developed by the independent game studios and individuals in the Asia-Pacific region. IGF China includes the Independent Games Summit, the Independent Games Festival Pavilion, and the Independent Games Festival Awards Ceremony. [9]

Recurring highlights

Tutorials

About half of the time during the first two days of GDC are given over to tutorials, one- or two-day-long sessions on a given topic. Tutorials take the form of hands-on workshops and cover a variety of technical subjects such as game design, audio, topics in computer programming (such as physics, graphics programing or web technologies), production and business management.

Summits

A summit is a section of panels dedicated to a sub-segment of the game industry, also usually held on the first two days of the conference. Past and current summit topics include mobile games, independent games, game education (of students aspiring to join the industry), serious games, social games, artificial intelligence, and online games.

Console Maker's Keynotes

Regularly, Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft and Nintendo deliver keynotes at the conference showcasing upcoming products and technologies. Next to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, GDC keynotes are one of the more significant sources of news about upcoming console hardware and platforms, but with a focus on the developer audience instead of the wider press. A number of games in development or upcoming releases are also showcased, but generally far fewer than at E3.

Developer's Rant

Since 2005, the "rant" panel has been one of the most popular sessions at the conference. Moderated by Eric Zimmerman and Jason Della Rocca, a selection of notable industry figures are invited to speak on industry-related subjects they are passionate about. According to Zimmerman, the idea of the panel "is to really take those grumblings and mutterings and bring them out into the light, speak truth to power, cut through to the real s***, and talk about what is going on in our industry—what's wrong and what we can do to change it." [10] Many rants inspire controversy, discussion and a good deal of media coverage in industry press. Most rant sessions focus on a particular segment of the industry to draw their speakers from:

The Rant panel has inspired similarly structured sessions, with more specialized topics (e.g., "Game Educators Rant" during the Education Summit, or rants during the Indie Game Summit).

Game Design Challenge

Eric Zimmerman created the Game Design Challenge. [11] "The idea of the challenge, he said, was to give everyone a sense of the process behind game design, and to attempt to get everyone thinking about new kinds of games." No actual game needs to be built, just designed. The goal of the 2nd annual Game Design Challenge was to create a game based on Emily Dickinson. It was won by Will Wright who designed an Emily Dickinson personality simulator contained entirely on a USB flash drive. The personality would interact with the player by sending Instant Messages and email. The goal was to maintain a stable relationship and avoid the two extremes: romantic obsession with the player or suicidal depression. The first occurrence meant constant interruptions when using the computer. The latter occurrence allowed for the simulation to delete itself. The 3rd time, the task was to create a game worthy of a Nobel Prize. Harvey Smith won with his PeaceBomb game. It would utilize wireless devices to organize flash mobs to engage in random acts of charity. For the first 3 challenges, Eric Zimmerman has always ended the challenge by indicating that all the contestants' ideas could really be made into a game.

The goal of the 4th annual Game Design Challenge was to create a game which was a religion, or which could become one. It was won by Jason Rohrer who designed a one-player at a time multiplayer game named Chain World contained entirely on a USB flash drive. [12]

Experimental Gameplay Workshop

The Experimental Gameplay Workshop is a two-hour workshop that showcases experimental video games and game prototypes. [13] A number of experimental titles that were featured at EGW went on to become some of the most well-regarded in the industry, such as Katamari Damacy and Portal . [13]

Game Developers Choice Awards

Held at the main GDC event in the first part of the year, the presentation for the Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) is held. The GDCAs are available for any game made in the previous calendar year, nominated and voted on by members of the game development community.

Independent Games Festival

The Independent Games Festival Pavilion at the 2019 GDC IGF Pavilion at GDC 2019.jpg
The Independent Games Festival Pavilion at the 2019 GDC

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) is an event held during the main GDC in the early part of the year, open to games from small independent studios and from students at universities. The IGF culminates with the presentation of several awards to games which have been nominated and voted on in the months prior, and which are given space at the IGF to showcase their game. These awards have cash prizes associated with them, ranging from US$1,000 to US$30,000 for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. The ceremony is typically held as the lead-in to the GDCA award ceremony.

Dates (incomplete)

ConferenceLocationDatesAttendees
2001
GDC 2001 San Jose Convention Center
San Jose, California
March 20-24 [14]
2002
GDC 2002 San Jose Convention Center
San Jose, California
March 19-23 [15] ~10,000 [16]
2003
GDC 2003 San Jose Convention Center
San Jose, California
March 4-8 [17]
2005
GDC 2005Moscone Center West, San Francisco, California [18] March 7-11 [18] ~12,000 [19]
2006
GDC 2006 San Jose Convention Center
San Jose, California
March 22-24 [20] ~12,500 [21]
2009
GDC 2009 San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 23–27
GDC Europe 2009 Cologne, GermanyAugust 17–19
GDC Austin 2009 Austin, Texas September 15–28
GDC China 2009 Shanghai, ChinaOctober 11–13
2010
GDC 2010San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 9–13
GDC Canada 2010 Vancouver, CanadaMay 6–7
GDC Europe 2010Cologne, GermanyAugust 16–18
GDC Online 2010Austin, TexasOctober 5–8
GDC China 2010Shanghai, ChinaDecember 5–7
2011
GDC 2011San Francisco, CaliforniaFebruary 28 – March 4
GDC Europe 2011Cologne, GermanyAugust 15–17
GDC Online 2011Austin, TexasOctober 10–13
GDC China 2011Shanghai, ChinaNovember 12–14
2012
GDC 2012San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 5–9
GDC Europe 2012Cologne, GermanyAugust 13–15
GDC Online 2012Austin, TexasOctober 9–11
GDC China 2012Shanghai, ChinaNovember 17–19
2013
GDC 2013San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 25–29
GDC Europe 2013Cologne, GermanyAugust 19–21
GDC China 2013Shanghai, ChinaSeptember 15–17
GDC Next 2013 Los Angeles, CaliforniaNovember 5–7
2014
GDC 2014San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 17–21
GDC Europe 2014Cologne, GermanyAugust 11–13
GDC China 2014Shanghai, ChinaOctober 19–21
GDC Next 2014Los Angeles, CaliforniaNovember 3–4
2015
GDC 2015San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 2–6
GDC Europe 2015Cologne, GermanyAugust 3–4
GDC China 2015Shanghai, ChinaOctober 25–27
2016
GDC 2016San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 14–18
GDC Europe 2016Cologne, GermanyAugust 15–16
2017
GDC 2017San Francisco, CaliforniaFebruary 27 – March 3
2018
GDC 2018San Francisco, CaliforniaMarch 19–23
2019
GDC 2019 Moscone Convention Center
San Francisco, California
March 18–22 [22] 27,000 [23]
2020
GDC 2020Moscone Convention Center
San Francisco, California
August 4-6 [24]

alt.ctrl.GDC

alt.ctrl.GDC is an exhibit taking place in the GDC Expo. Visitors can play games using alternative controllers and meet the developers behind the projects. One of these games win the alt.ctrl.GDC Award, which includes a $2,000 prize plus a special trophy, at the IGF ceremony during GDC, with judging taking place on-site. [25] [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Independent Games Festival

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) is an annual festival at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the largest annual gathering of the indie video game industry.

Game Developers Choice Awards annual award

The Game Developers Choice Awards are awards annually presented at the Game Developers Conference for outstanding game developers and games. Introduced in 2001, the Game Developers Choice Awards were preceded by the Spotlight Awards, which were presented from 1997 to 1999. Since then, the ceremony for the Independent Games Festival is held just prior to the Choice Awards ceremony.

<i>Game Developer</i> (magazine) magazine

Game Developer magazine was the premier publication for working video game creators, originally started in March 1994 by Miller Freeman, Inc as quarterly, later bimonthly, and finally monthly. In each issue, industry leaders and experts shared technical solutions, reviewed new game development tools, and discussed strategies for creating innovative, successful video games. Monthly postmortems dissected the industry’s leading games, from AAA console to social and mobile games and beyond, and columns gave insight into deeper development practices from across all disciplines, from design, to programming, to art, to business, and audio. It was closed in 2013 as part of a restructuring at parent company UBM Tech that included the closing of all print publications owned by that company.

International Game Developers Association organization

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is a nonprofit professional association whose stated mission is to "support and empower game developers around the world in achieving fulfilling and sustainable careers."

Bob Bates American computer games designer

Robert "Bob" Bates is an American computer games designer. One of the early designers of interactive fiction games, he was co-founder of Challenge, Inc., which created games in the 1980s for the pioneering company Infocom. After Infocom's dissolution in 1989, Bates co-founded Legend Entertainment to continue publishing games in the Infocom tradition, but with added graphics. He has designed, written, or produced scores of games, including Unreal II (2003), Spider-Man 3 (2007), and Eric the Unready (1993), listed as Adventure Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World magazine and also included on the 1996 list of "150 best games of all time". In 1998 he wrote the award-winning game Quandaries for the U.S. Department of Justice. He has twice been the chairperson of the International Game Developers Association, which honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Bates has written extensively about game design and development in works such as the 2001 book Game Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games, which is commonly used as a game design textbook in college courses. From 2011–2014, Bates was Chief Creative Officer for External Studios at Zynga. He continues to work as an independent consultant with various publishers in the games industry.

Sheri Graner Ray American video game designer

Sheri Graner Ray is an American computer game designer. Active since 1990, she has worked for such companies as Electronic Arts, Origin Systems, Sony Online Entertainment, and Cartoon Network, and has worked on such licenses as Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima, and Nancy Drew. She is author of the book Gender Inclusive Game Design-Expanding the Market and is the computer game industry's leading expert on the subject of gender and computer games.

Brenda Romero American video game designer and developer

Brenda Louise Romero, previously known as Brenda Brathwaite, is an American game designer and developer in the video game industry. She was born in Ogdensburg, New York and is a graduate of Clarkson University. Romero is best known for her work on the Wizardry series of role-playing video games and, more recently, the non-digital series The Mechanic is the Message. She has worked in game development since 1981 and has credits on 49 game titles.

The Australian Game Developers Conference (AGDC) is owned by the Academy of Interactive Entertainment Limited and was run by Interactive Entertainment Events, a subsidiary of AIE Ltd.

Within the video game industry there are several awards that are given to individual video games, development studios, and other individuals to recognize their merit. Most video game awards are given out on an annual basis, celebrating the best games of the previous year. Most of these awards come from organizations directly within the industry, but there also exist several that come from broader media groups. In addition, many video game publications supply their own end of the year awards.

The Digital Game Xpo (DGXPO) was the Southeast U.S.'s largest game industry conference. The event was organized and hosted by Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. The first event was held in 2005 and it was held annually until 2009. The event comprised an expo, career fair, student showcase, and a variety of tutorials, lectures, and roundtables by industry professionals. The expo also held a number of tournaments for popular games of the time like Guitar Hero, Super Smash Bros., and Halo 3.

GCA Games Convention Asia fan convention

GCA GAMES CONVENTION ASIA is a major video game exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. It consists of a public exhibition and a conference where the various players in the video game industry network and interact with each other, while showcasing their latest products and services to the public. Games Convention Asia serves as an entryway for companies trying to enter the Asian interactive entertainment market.

Gamescom trade fair for video games

Gamescom is a trade fair for video games held annually at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Since 2018, it has been organised by game – Verband der deutschen Games-Branche ; and before that, by the Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware (BIU). It supersedes Games Convention, held in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany. Gamescom is used by many video game developers to exhibit upcoming games and game-related hardware.

Heather Kelley media artist, video game designer

Heather Kelley is a media artist and video game designer. She is co-founder of the Kokoromi experimental game collective, with whom she produces and curates the annual Gamma game event promoting experimental games as creative expression in a social context. She is regular jury member for different computer gaming festivals and public speaker at technology events.

Robin Hunicke American video game designer and producer

Robin Hunicke is an American video game designer and producer. She is a professor of game design at UC Santa Cruz and the co-founder of Funomena.

Jennifer Pahlka American businesswoman; founder and Executive Director of Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and Executive Director of Code for America. She served as US Deputy Chief Technology Officer from June 2013 to June 2014 and helped found the United States Digital Service. Previously she had worked at CMP Media with various roles in the computer game industry. She was the co-chair and general manager of the Web 2.0 conferences.

Michael Todd is a Canadian independent video game programmer and designer. He is an active member of the Toronto video game developer community, and an advocate for mental health awareness within the profession.

The Seumas McNally Grand Prize is the main award given at the Independent Games Festival, an annual event that takes place during the Game Developers Conference, one of the largest gatherings of the indie video game industry. The award is named after computer game programmer Seumas McNally (1979–2000), founder of independent game development company Longbow Digital Arts. McNally died of Hodgkin's lymphoma shortly after receiving the award in 2000 for his game Tread Marks. The award is given alongside a prize of US$30,000.

Video gaming is a growing sector in Colombia. The medium has been popular in the country since the 1980s, but little local development had taken place until the turn of the 21st century. As the country has been producing many engineers since the early 2010s, many of which specialized in electronics, industry and information technology, the local video game industry has been booming.

The Game Developers Choice Award for the Game of the Year, also known as GDCA Game of the Year is the main video game award presented at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers. The conference, usually held in or around March in San Francisco, presents the award as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), a series of awards honoring outstanding achievements in video game design for games released during the previous calendar year.

The 20th Game Developers Choice Awards was an annual awards ceremony by Game Developers Choice Awards for outstanding game developers and video games held on March 18, 2020, hosted by Kim Swift. Though normally held at the Game Developers Conference, due to the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, the conference was postponed to later in 2020, and the awards were presented via online streaming media, alongside the Independent Games Festival awards.

References

  1. "The Computer Game Developers' Conference - Interactive Storytelling Tools for Writers - Chris Crawford". Erasmatazz. 2010-08-14. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  2. 1 2 "CGDC in Santa Clara: Geeks Get Down". Next Generation . No. 31. Imagine Media. July 1997. pp. 20–21.
  3. "GDC 2008 Breaks Attendance Record with 18K". GameDaily. February 28, 2008.
  4. "Game Developers Conference Summary". Kidzworld.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-08.
  5. Hall, Charlie (March 14, 2017). "Watch all of the board game talks from GDC free online". Polygon . Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  6. Grubb, Jeff (February 28, 2020). "GDC 'postponed' as multiple participants pull out over coronavirus fears". Venture Beat . Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  7. "Game Developers Conference 2020 announces virtual awards and talk schedule". Gamasutra . March 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  8. "游戏开发者大会 • 中国". www.gdcchina.cn.
  9. IGF China Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Davis, Galen (March 18, 2005). "GDC rant heard 'round the world". Gamespot.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-06.
  11. Diamante, Vincent (March 24, 2006). "GDC: The Game Design Challenge: The Nobel Peace Prize" . Retrieved 2007-07-25.
  12. Gamasutra Staff (July 22, 2011). "GDC: The Game Design Challenge: Bigger Than Jesus" . Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  13. 1 2 Staff. "GDC's Experimental Gameplay Workshop needs your crazy prototypes" . Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  14. "Microsoft Showcases DirectX at GDC 2001".
  15. "Microsoft Showcases Groundbreaking Game Technologies Of DirectX at GDC 2002".
  16. Aihoshi, Richard. "GDC 2002 Report".
  17. Bishko, Leslie. "The Game Developers Conference 2003 in Review".
  18. 1 2 Carless, Simon (March 7, 2005). "Game Developers Conference 2005 Preview". Gamasutra . Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  19. "Game Developers Conference". Giant Bomb.
  20. Cohen, Peter. "Game Developers Conference 2006 announced".
  21. "Game Developers Conference". Giant Bomb.
  22. "GDC celebrates record-breaking attendance and confirms 2019 dates! - GDC News". gdconf.com. 28 March 2018.
  23. "GDC celebrates record-breaking attendance and locks in 2020 dates!". Gamasutra . March 25, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  24. "GDC postponed to later in 2020 amid coronavirus cancellations [Updated]". Ars Technica. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  25. Cox, Matt (April 4, 2019). "I got tied to a chair at Alt.Ctrl.GDC and it was wild". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  26. "alt.ctrl.GDC". GDC. Retrieved January 19, 2020.