We use cookies to ensure we give you the best experience of our website. By accepting, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our privacy policy.

Highlights From My First Game Developers Conference

Highlights From My First Game Developers Conference

Game developer student Claire Barilla recently attended the Game Developers Conference 2016 (GDC) in San Francisco. We shared some of her thoughts before she went and promised that we’d share some on her return. As promised here are some thoughts, reflections and advice from her first time at the conference.

A mini compilation of the Kiwis at GDC 201

So Many Talks

The first day was really exciting – I was overwhelmed by the scale of the conference and the sheer amount of talks that were happening. The Moscone Conference center is absolutely huge and every room is filled with an interesting talk, it is impossible to decide between all of them. Fortunately, with a conference pass you also get access to the GDC vault, which lets you catch up on the talks you may have missed.

Go To a Talk Outside Your Field of Expertise

A few talks I went to were a little out of my comfort zone, particularly the few AI talks I opted to attend. I would recommend anyone going to GDC tries going to a talk they normally wouldn’t, something that is not their primary job or interest. It was wonderful to gain a deeper understanding of AI functions; even though I only do a little programming, it was still highly educational and I would argue that it has improved my ability to understand and communicate with the programmers in our team. The Virtual Reality (VR) talks I attended made me more passionate about testing out VR in our next game and considering things that could offer players completely new experiences outside of the game. I felt as though I could take something new away from every talk at GDC, especially those that were outside my area of experience. It is always worthwhile trying something new.

Try the diversity talks

I only attended a few diversity talks at GDC and every one of them was a highlight. These talks challenge perspective, they make us think more deeply about games and consider things about developers we may not have considered before. Try it - diversity in games starts with diverse developers; challenge yourself to think about these things. It is so encouraging to see such a push for diversity and incredible support from the industry as a whole. Some highlights included:

  • Renee Nejo’s talk about Shame and Vulnerability - She discussed her experience as a minority game developer and how she used video games to help her better identify with her Native American heritage.
  • Farah Khalaf and Rami Ismail’s talk about the representation of Muslims in video games. It was certainly something to consider and I am glad I went, it made me more conscious of my own perceptions of Muslims in games.
  • IGDA Romance and Sexuality SIG Roundtable - This was probably one of my favourite talks, it was totally improvised and the goal was to create a safe group for people to discuss issues around sex and sexuality within games.
Game developers conference pass

Dedicate Time For the Expo

With all of the talks at hand, it can be easy to forget or dismiss one of the most wonderful parts of GDC – the Expo. Initially, I dedicated about an hour or so for the Expo before heading to one of my talks - leading to me completely losing track of time and wandering around the Expo for 4 hours. There is just so much to see; the Google booth was a great place to relax, the Epic booth had a VR party going and Allegorithmic had a load of cool Substance painter/designer displays. I ended up getting lost in the PlayStation and Xbox booths, playing a variety of unreleased games. You could literally spend the full week in the Expo and Careers Centre and not get bored.

Game Developers are Awesome

If there is one thing that I can take away from GDC, it is just how amazing game developers are - we really are a cool bunch, being so ready and willing to communicate, share and just generally be friendly to one another. 

An encounter that stuck with me after GDC was randomly bumping into one of the developers from Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. We ended up just having lunch together and I got to hear that the idea for the game originally came from one of my favourite TV shows.

Something like GDC reminds us just how connected the games industry is, with conversations just in passing that make me so excited about game development as a career. We have an industry filled with exceptionally talented, kind and inspirational individuals.

Interested in studying game development in New Zealand, check out courses available here


By Claire BarillaGame Developer Student

Updated 5 years ago

Claire Barilla is a current student at the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. Claire is studying a Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art).

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
Share this article

Keep in touch. Don't miss out on the latest posts.

Subscribe to Blog

Stay in touch

For personalised tips and tools for studying in New Zealand.

Please complete all of the fields below.

Please enter a valid email address.

Please enter a first name.

Please enter a last name.

Please select a country.

Please select a valid date (MM/YYYY).

this includes the existence, status and outcome of any visa application I submit, for use in accordance with, and for the purposes set out in, Education New Zealand’s Privacy Policy which I have read and understood. The results Education New Zealand receives may also include visa decisions pre/post the student visa application (such as a work visa post study). This will enable us to provide a more personalised digital experience and undertake research and analytical studies associated with our functions.

You can unsubscribe at any time By submitting this form I agree to Education New Zealand Privacy Policy, and to receive updates and marketing communications about their services, promotions, special offers, new and events.

Thanks for subscribing

Tohu icon

Kia ora! Get answers to your questions about studying in New Zealand

Learn More