GDC 2014 Recap

As ever, this recap will be a vignette-ish panoply of my thoughts and insights at GDC 2014. Readers beware.

Early registration and conference pass pick up before the week begins in earnest. They are blasting 80s music in here, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Men at Work, etc. Nice musicality

"The things you do matter. The stories in your games go out into the world and help players with their lives." -Kim Shashoua, "Video Game Rx: Narrative as Therapy"

I guess if this were a more public-ish convention, this is where some of the cosplayers would be. Unless these ARE the cosplayers who are cosplaying the weary, relaxed character archetypes.

Game writers, all writers.


Brenda Romero's presentation was PHENOMENAL. Utterly inspiring. I have to ask myself the question now, do I do everything I do to the best of my own ability? When we as people don't do our personal best, WE KNOW IT. I don't want easy, I don't want cheaply done, I don't want to cut corners. I know these things are at times unavoidable in the industry, but like Romero, I don't want them. I WANT that "greatness" that Brenda was talking about.

My neck hurts from nodding in agreement with so many of Brian Schwab's points in the talk about the differences between designers and programmers, how that works and how to make the best of that. Great games come from that tension between the technical and the creative. Indie game devs who are often by necessity are in ultra-hybridized roles are in a great position to make the best of this tension.

Jeremy Bernstein's presentation was an absolute delight, and for me at least elucidated just as much as it raised some very intriguing questions about the nature if emergent narrative in game systems. I need to pick this man's brain!

♫3! 33~!

The half-number of the beast!

Hell and fire~

Are kind of released...♫

On the meta level: attending what is essentially a digest of the one and only Game Developers Conference.

On the micro level: playing a game on your 3DS while that's happening.

Question from audience: "What does a Grue actually look like?"

Answer from Dave Lebling, creator of Zork: "Logically, I couldn't tell you because if I saw one, I'd be dead!"

For everyone with GDC Vault access, I implore you, please watch Frank Lantz' "Hearts and Minds" session. How are we as game developers ideally poised to use our medium to answer the big questions of humanity, as tech-savvy aesthetic craftspeople? Frank Lantz gives a stirring response to just such a question.

Very well-played, Chris Hecker!

"We want equations and haircuts!"

-Frank Lantz

I met Chris Kohler whilst in was wandering the Expo floor! His book, "Power Up" was a great resource for my masters thesis. Thanks, Chris!

GDC 2014 Social App: Managed to finish in 5th place this year, not bad at all, considering that I was shocked to find that I was in the top ten at all.

People who know me will know that this photo is unusual because I am smiling nicely in it. Rest assured, I smiled way raunchier in the photo we took on Christine's camera (she'll likely upload that one later).

Ended my stay in SF with the most pleasant of surprises--it turns out that two kids I used to tutor in Japan 10 years ago are now living near SF. We were able to meet tonight for dinner. The last time I saw these kids they were in elementary, now the are both in high school and the son is taller than me now (and according to videos, shreds guitar solos waaay better than me now, too). So very, sincerely proud of those kids, and grateful to meet up with them. I don't yet have kids of my own, but someday when I do, I hope they are smart, talented, funny kids with bright futures like my former students. I hope that they will be proud of the games that will make, too.

It has been a wonderful experience, GDC. Thank you to all and best of luck to everyone.

Made it back to my humble dorm at NAIST. Thankfully no delays in the flights or anything, which lets me attend my own graduation ceremony tomorrow. The last time I "graduated" was when I got my bachelor's degree back in Dec. 2002, and I actually didn't attend that ceremony because

1) It wasn't mandatory.

2) I wasn't graduating alongside anyone I knew at the time.

3) We were understaffed at work and I needed the money.

So, I didn't attend my own graduation ceremony in Hawaii when I got my bachelor's degree. It was OK, though, because to me, getting accepted on to the JET Programme to teach English in Japan was the true graduation. This time, however, getting my Master's degree was something that at times I didn't know if I could do successfully, and it means quite a deal to me, so I am pretty happy to be able to attend the graduation tomorrow.

#gdc #trip #gamedevelopment #indiegame #industry

About the Author

PhD Candidate in Japan, researching Narrative in Games. Responds favorably to Thrash Metal, Karaoke, and Dungeons & Dragons.

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