Postmortem: My First GDC

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Three and a half days at GDC was inspiring and tiring. During these 3 ½ days, I mainly talked to people, went to talks, and observed. To be honest, it was different than what I thought.

First of all, there were many, many more people there than I thought it would be, especially after the Expo Floor opened on Wednesday. There were hundreds of booths for companies showing off their best and newest stuff; there were dozens talks/roundtables every day; there were numerous games exhibited and so many parties. It could be a little overwhelming if it was the first time going.

Looking back my GDC week, here were a lot of things went well. My team presented our game at RIT’s Playtest Night where we got tons of new testers and countless good feedback. Most importantly, it was such a wonderful thing to see the players were having fun playing our game. During the playtest, I made couple friends and connected with them. One of them ended up introducing me to his superior UI/UX Designer. Other than the playtest night, I went to couple talks where I gathered some super inspiring and helpful information. There were two talks I would like to share with you the most. One is related to our daily life and another one is related to career.

Since we tend to mostly work in groups for either personal or class projects, I figured the talk “Let’s Talk about Feedback” given by Peet Cooper, Art Director of Riot Games, could be very helpful. It talked about what is good feedback, how to give both positive and negative feedback, and lastly how to receive feedback.

Good feedback should give positive reinforcement and help to make improvements. It is always about context rather than opinion based. When giving feedback, be as specific as you can, which means don’t just say “it’s good, I like it”. Instead, you should say “it is good, because…”. Focus on the goal that individual is trying to achieve.

On the other hand, when receiving feedback, although it is human nature to be defensive, you should know that feedback is a gift and harsh feedback is an even better gift. Here are a few things you could do to make you a good receiver:

  1. Active listening
  2. Take notes
  3. Repeat back to make sure you are on the same page
  4. Make an action plan
  5. Follow-up

 

While that talk gave valuable information on how to work and communicate better, there was another talk about the one thing we as students care about the most… how to get into the industry. “Been There Done That: Industry Veterans Share Experience and Advice” was given by 6 speakers of variety roles and experiences. Here are a couple things I found most important and inspiring.

  1. Learn to make your own path. It is impossible to achieve success just by replicating someone else's story. Be inspired by others, but don’t be afraid to deviate paths others created.
  2. Identify your obstacles. Imagine your life 10 years from now, then 5 years, then maybe a year. What is stopping you from that life you just imagined? Are you maybe just assuming something is in your way?
  3. Be comfortable telling what you are good at. Know about your strengths and be comfortable about telling them. No one knows better than you do. So don’t sit around and wait to be noticed.
  4. Do what you would do if you weren’t afraid. Fear is a common thing and it is okay to be afraid of the unknown. The reason we are afraid is because it may lead to failure. But you know what, failure should be verb, it is just something we do. There is a saying, “Fail fast and find fun”. So do what you would do if you weren’t afraid.

 

I hope you find something useful from these two talks. They can be found on the GDC Vault. Feel free to check them out. 

Other than all the good things happened, I feel there are things I could do better to make my time more useful. I should get out my comfort zone and talk to more people. Maybe people sitting next to me at my roundtable; maybe people standing next to me at a booth; maybe studios who were presenting; maybe go to a couple of parties even if it’s not within my discipline.

This GDC was a great experience and I am definitely looking forward to my next one!