Michéle Ianello was one of 40 Victorian developers funded by Film Victoria to attend the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC).
GDC is the world’s largest games industry event, attracting over 27,000 attendees to what is arguably the primary forum for games professionals to network, exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.
Michéle was a designer on the highly successful mobile arcade flyer Shooty Skies, produced by Mighty Games. We asked him to recap his first GDC experience and share his top tips for navigating the Conference.
On the first day of the Conference, I was overwhelmed. Not only was I in the midst of so many recognisable and respected developers, I didn’t properly understand the structure of GDC, or what my ticket gave me access to. Making decisions about which sessions to attend was incredibly stressful, as every commitment to a conversation, panel or meeting seemed like sacrificing another opportunity.
Halfway through the second day I found my feet and realised that nearly every experience at GDC has potentially career changing value and for every opportunity you sacrifice, two more will take its place.
The value of GDC
I can’t stress how important GDC is for Australian developers – to be able to feel the momentum, meet the vast spectrum of people building incredible things and to connect the local game industry to the spirit of the huge international community.
On a personal level, GDC was such an energising experience. It honestly was a life changing couple of days.
Sharing a Tim Tam and coffee with Ubisoft Creative Director and role model Clint Hocking, after a mutual friend made an introduction.
The final evening of the conference at the Independent Games Festival Awards watching Sam Barlow accept the Grand Prize for Her Story. He was teary and his voice quivered as he described the hard year he'd spent working on his game and the support from his wife. I got very emotional and didn’t know why at the time, but thinking back, it was because I know how hard the work is, and that it’s just so good seeing it pay off. I was so proud and happy for him, and I also wanted so badly to be up there too one day.
Michéle’s top five tips for navigating GDC:
1. Be nice to everyone
2. In group situations make sure you introduce yourself to everyone
3. Remember people’s names (use word associations or take notes)
4. When meeting new people, avoid any initial awkwardness by talking about a game people will recognise
5. Plan ahead, but if you miss a session you can always catch it later in the GDC Vault