Game Developers Conference 2010 – some observations

Today was the first day of GDC 2010, the yearly Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Despite a short night of sleep I felt pretty awake during most of the day, likely also due to the large number of cups of coffee that I consumed. Coffee is the drink of choice at GDC, every break there is free coffee and during every meeting I drink at least one cup as well.

When walking to the Moscone Center this morning I immediately knew who of the crowd around me was going to GDC as well. Game developers stand out in the crowd, their dress code and hairstyles are a bit ‘different’. As Popcap’s @giordanodc put it diplomatically in a tweet yesterday (he was on the same plane with me): “En route to GDC. You can always tell if a plane is bound for a game industry conference. mThis ain’t Fashion Week”.

After picking up my badge I tried to buy some food inside the Moscone, but it turned out that the food outlets were still closed (they remained closed the whole day actually, not sure why). So I went out to a deli to get a sandwich and talked to some people. Because your Twitter name is on your GDC badge it’s pretty cool that you can immediately check them out on Twitter, all conferences should to that.

During the sessions many people were using their laptops (mainly Macs of course) or going online on their phones. There was decent wifi this year, much better than last year when I could not find a signal anywhere, so tweeting was a great way to keep up with what was said in parallel sessions, or to read the comments of others in the audience on the session you’re watching. There was no Twitter back channel projection, which is something they should have added as well.

This year the social games summit was extremely popular, it’s clear that social games are hot. Some of the sessions were completely full and you even had to wait in line to get in (if you could get in at all). But the longest line was for the free Nexus One and Droid giveaway for developers. A super smart idea from Google: if you give game developers a brand new Android phone there is a good chance that they will start developing games for them. All over the place there were people with Nexus One’s, a nice sight.

The first day of the conference was totally worth the trip already. I met a lot of people, heard a lot of news and have a lot of new ideas to think about. And of course it’s always nice to hear the rumors about competitors, you only hear those things at this kind of conference. One full day down, three more days to go.

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