GDC day one (03-07-12)

For those of you who are unaware this week in San Francisco the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) is being held. It is an opportunity for developers from all disciplines and background to come together and talk about making games. This year I decided to attend for the first time and see what all the conference had to offer. So I bought myself a custom made GRH t-shirt, printed out some GRH stickers and signed up for an adventure in game development.

GRH t-shirt

Oh. My. God. Where do I begin? I showed up to GDC having no idea what I was in for. My plan hadn’t really gone past see some talks, show off the new t-shirt maybe pass out some stickers if I’m feeling bold. What I got was so far beyond that I’m still trying to comprehend everything that happened.

I arrived around 11am to find the place swarming with people. Product promoters manned the street corners handing out fliers and free energy drinks. Almost all of them attractive women. Inside I collected my badge and tried to figure out where to go. I had not anticipated there being an entire floor dedicated to recruiting. I wandered the massive space looking at the different booths. Activision was front and center. On the left Blizzard and the right Playstation. Crowds had formed in front of each booth filled with eager men and women of all trades. Wandering deeper revealed the lesser known companies as well as a few of the other big wigs. A both for Capcom, a booth for Nintendo, another for Microsoft, and two booths packed to the brim for Valve and Obsidian. I quickly learned that most of these applicants where students ripe for graduation.

After cutting my teeth with some of the lesser know companies I finally worked up the courage to wait in line for the Valve booth. Initially I had no plans of applying to Valve. I have zero experience programming for AAA titles and I assumed that was a solid prerequisite. However, later in the day I saw signs indicating they were hiring programmers for Steam, since I am a decently experienced web programmer I thought the match seemed like a good one. I waited in line for about half an hour watching as each eager applicant before me was transformed from an optimistic hopeful to a dejected husk skulking away. It seemed Valve was very picky about who they talked to. My fear grew as I approached the front of the line. Would they also reject me? In short, no. In long, I am not totally sure. They asked me to fill out a form and then I sat in a waiting area with about 4 other applicants for roughly an hour. At which point I went up and ask them what was going on. Apparently their only web guy was busy, but they had someone else come in and talk to me instead. The interview lasted about an hour, or at least it felt that way. Nothing terribly technical was asked, I showed him a bunch of my work on his iPad. I especially enjoyed showing off GameReviewHero.com.

As someone who has done many interviews. I know the end of the interview is always weird. You shake hands and say thanks, but generally your not supposed to say anything about whether or not the person got the job. Unless its just you, you are usually not the one who gets to make that call. The end of this interview was no different. It ended and it was recommended that I check out the hiring talks they had every few hours throughout the day. Something they told everyone who spoke to them.

Despite the very anticlimactic end of the interview I felt good. Like I usually do after I spend an hour trying to convince someone that I’m awesome. Writing or talking about every major accomplishment you’ve ever done is a great confidence booster. I wanted more of that natural high so i started talking to more companies. I applied to Blizzard (doing Battle.net stuff) and a company called Backbone that recently did the Sega Collection available on the Playstation Network (and maybe XBL?).

After learning that, during the entire day, I had only looked at about a third of the conference space I spent the last hour checking out the Expo hall. I didn’t see much, but I did run into the co-creator / designer of Super Meat boy Edmund McMillen. I gave him and his wife a sticker.