GDC Online 2010: Impressions
GDC Online was held at the Austin Convention Center last week. I picked up a one day pass for the last day to attend the career building talks and see a little bit of the trade floor. This was my first industry convention.
When I left I did feel like I had obtained a quality list of next steps from professionals in the field of Game Design. All the same, some of the undertones left my palate dry. The first prevalent sentiment (which I heard from no less than four individual speakers) was the extremity of the hours you might work. Sixty to eighty hours weeks; they nailed it into our heads. This is actually the very first thing you hear from anyone that hears that you are an aspiring game designer, I’ve heard it at least tens of times! Honestly, it’s a little tiring to have to hear it so often and it always sounds extremely negative. Yes, I understand that there are long hours and yes I still want to become a professional game designer. Of course this was not without exception, in fact one designer claimed that he has his dream job and works forty hours like anyone else. Worst of all the “long work hours” concept was always book-ended with a very generic and non-descript sentiment that they would never trade this job for anything else.
That very tidbit on the end was what I was the most interested in, and the reason I came to talk to professionals in the first place. Why do you keep designing? I wanted to hear the stories. Passion is a big keyword in this industry, and I wanted to hear about that passion! I wanted to hear that it stays with you, and validate this career that I am investing in.
This was finally confirmed when I heard Jeremy Gibson‘s talk on networking. His talk was full of clear and concise insights into the simple social interactions you will encounter in the industry. His mantra goes above and beyond the resume/portfolio/interview/rinse/repeat sentiment that I have been familiar with all my years in the workforce. It’s about making connections and communicating which can be immediately applied. The advice was valuable in the pursuit of working your way into a reputable company as well as going your own way and building a team.
Finally, just listening to Jeremy speak was uplifting. He’s a man who is happy doing what he does and is extremely successful at doing it. It’s a very attractive advertisement, over the doom-and-gloom of long hours and boilerplate business technicalities. Afterward I was sure to tell him how much I appreciated the talk, not just for the content but for his uplifting attitude.
For more on Jeremy Gibson, check out his page at the University of Southern California where he teaches, and this page that talks about Skyrates which is a game he worked on.