UBM Tech Game Network’s 2015 Game Developers Conference (GDC), the world’s largest and longest-running event serving professionals dedicated to the art and science of making games, has set a record for event attendance, with more than 26,000 game industry professionals at last week’s conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. In 2016, the Game Developers Conference will be celebrating a major milestone with the 30th anniversary of the event. The organizers of the event have announced that GDC 2016 will return to the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco from Monday, March 14 to Friday, March 18, 2016, with a call for submissions to open this summer.
GDC 2015 saw a huge surge of interest and developer engagement with Virtual Reality (VR) devices and platforms, with huge tech and game industry players including Sony, Oculus, Valve and HTC showcasing new technology months, even years before the products hit retail shelves. Following its debut at GDC 2014, Sony again showcased its Project Morpheus VR headset, while Valve and HTC partnered to show off their new co-developed Vive Virtual reality system, which uses new tracking hardware to offer 3D positioning, allowing users to be fully immersed in a 3D virtual world.
GDC 2015 once again reflected the changing shape of the videogame industry, with a dedicated summit track for the rapidly expanding field of eSports with talks from Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, MIT Game Lab and many others. Tied to the theme of videogame spectatorship, GDC has also expanded its focus on Community Management, with a dedicated summit that included talks on building, supporting and maintaining an engaged and respectful online community for gamers.
The Classic Games Postmortems shined a light on the development and inspiration for some of gaming’s most groundbreaking classics, including the seminal Star Control, Yars’ Revenge, Adventure and Loom. The dedicated Advocacy Track of GDC once again shined a light on the need for civil dialogue and engagement, and how developers can deal with issues of harassment in their field. A talk titled “Game Developer Harassment: How to Get Through,” presented by Elizabeth Sampat, Zoe Quinn, Neha Nair and Donna Prior, offered first-hand accounts of online and real-world harassment, invasions of privacy, and described personal experiences coping with hostile threats. The provocative and emotionally cathartic #1Reasontobe session returned to present a powerful panel on what it means to be a woman working in the video game medium and industry, interrupted throughout by thunderous applause.
The Expo Floor in the Moscone South Hall exhibited some of the biggest names in the tech and games industry, including Sony, Google, Qualcomm, Oculus, Valve, Microsoft and nearly 350 other top companies offering product demonstrations, networking and recruitment opportunities. The Moscone North Hall, across from the Expo Floor, housed the GDC Play floor, with additional exhibitors and sponsors showcasing playable games and apps from emerging developers in a low-cost venue. These exhibitors will show off their games to key distributors, potential business partners and investors. GDC Play was inspired by the success of the Independent Games Festival Pavilion, and similarly offers a dedicated space where developers can conduct meaningful business at GDC.
Beyond the business of games, GDC once again offered entertaining spaces for attendees looking to loosen up and have fun. These spaces included the Videogame History Museum, which presented “The History of Atari,” alt.ctrl.GDC explored cool and unusual control methods in games (i.e. foot pedals, briefcases and telephone receivers). The Indie MEGABOOTH Showcase featured a curated selection of the best and brightest indie games of the past year. iam8bit Productions hosted the “Wheel of Whimsy,” a collection of four unique games played by one lucky attendee each hour –PIXLatr, Cheat Code, Videogame Bingo or Name That Chiptune, and GDC hosted “Shut Up & Sit Down: A Lovely Tabletop Lounge,” a dedicated space for participants to try out some of the most fun tabletop games of the year together.
On Wednesday evening, GDC 2015 hosted the 17th annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards and the 15th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCAs) on Wednesday night, March 4. Outer Wilds from Team Outer Wilds won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize award of $30,000, as well as the award for Excellence in Design. The Game Developers Choice Awards immediately followed the IGF Awards, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s epic open-world action title, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, took home the prize for Game of the Year, alongside the night’s other big winners, Monument Valley (winner for Innovation Award, Best Visual Art and Best Handheld/Mobile Game Awards), Destiny (winner of Best Technology) and HearthStone (winner of Best Design).
The UBM Tech Game Network’s GDC Vault website (www.gdcvault.com ) will offer access to select GDC 2014 material within the next few weeks, including speaker slides, synchronized video and presentations for select sponsor lectures and sponsor-supported videos, as well as a broad range of conference videos. GDC All Access Pass holders and individual Vault subscribers will get access to hundreds of video sessions from this and previous GDC shows. Images from the event have been cultivated and collected from UBM’s photographers can be viewed at the event’s official flickr account (https://www.flickr.com/photos/officialgdc/ ).
“As with every year, GDC offered a glimpse into the future of gaming, but still honored the history of the industry. This year’s success is a testament to the hard work of the staff, volunteers, speakers, indies and students who maintained a fun and safe environment for everyone at the show. As the conference enters its 30th year, we reflect on the tremendous growth in the medium of video games, and we’re thankful for the friendly faces, engrossing debates and friendly discussions we’ve had along the way,” said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. “After all the software and hardware demos, networking over drinks, and lively sessions, it’s good to meet with the people who bring life to the most popular form of entertainment in the 21st century, and to discuss how to make these amazing games even better in the years to come.”
More information on Game Developers Conference 2015, as well as the other GDC events throughout 2015 – including GDC Europe and GDC China – will be available at www.gdconf.com