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GDC: A Student’s Perspective

Mar 19, 2012 By webdev

[Students and staff from the Centre for Digital Media were recently in San Francisco for the 2012 Game Developers Conference (GDC). In this blog post, MDM student Steve Pastro reflects on his GDC experiences]

To a student, a trip down to San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference can mean a myriad of things. What I’d like to focus on in this blog are the opportunities that present themselves in terms of job hunting, networking, and making business connections.

When I attended GDC last year, it was a new and exciting learning experience. This year, however, I entered the Moscone center with a set of clear and defined goals, which I hoped would prove attainable. First, I wanted to make connections with recruiters that would help me land a job after graduation. Second, I wanted to expand my network by meeting other game designers and developers. And finally, I wanted to show off my side project, a game called Light Byte, to publishers in hopes of an eventual publishing deal.

The GDC career hall proved an amazing opportunity to connect with head recruiters and university relations’ personnel for companies of all shapes and sizes. From Disney to CAPCOM, it was a great opportunity to meet the people who are in charge of filling all of those jobs you might want. In addition, Friday was a student day, and many of the booths offered free portfolio evaluations and a more structured setting in which students could sell themselves and their work to the companies of their choosing. Even though it’s rare you’ll hear a student actually be offered a job at GDC, the connections you make can prove invaluable in your hunt!

GDC is about a lot more than recruitment though; throughout my week in San Francisco I amassed an impressive number of business cards belonging to CEOs, studio managers, producers, designers, artists, press and more. One event that stood out in my mind was the Canadian Networking Event held at a restaurant next door to the main expo hall. Sitting with our highly esteemed “Director of Hook-Ups”, Dennis Chenard, there was an endless line of important and impressive members of the gaming industry excited to say hi and see our work- not to mention the free food and drinks! Even if the connections made that night don’t lead to something directly, the future possibilities are limitless!

Having spoken of the job and networking opportunities at GDC, I’d like to now speak briefly on the topic of business connections. As stated earlier, my goal was to find interested publishing partners for the game I’d been working on. After learning of a service offered by the company Unity called Union, in which they port a game made in Unity to emerging platforms in return for a small profit share, I was immediately intrigued. I asked the employee who told me about the program who I could show my game to, and waited patiently for upwards of twenty minutes as he finished an interview with someone else. When it was finally my turn I turned on “pitch-mode” and did my best to sell him on my game in the short amount of time I had. Lucky for me, he liked it! After a week of post GDC follow up e-mails and negotiations I’ve signed my first publishing contract with Union!

With GDC, like everything else in life, you really do get out of it what you put in. Having specific goals in mind going into GDC allowed me to target certain companies and people I wanted to talk to and do everything in my power to get face time. The conference again was an amazing experience, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to go and make such amazing connections. To anyone considering going in the future, I’d highly recommend it!