Renowned game designer Chris Crawford inaugurated the first Computer Game Developers Conference in 1988. Three decades later, Crawford’s brainchild has become quite popular. For the second straight year, the GDC drew a record-breaking attendance, with over 29,000 industry professionals gracing the annual event, breaking last year’s record 28,000 attendance. GDC 2019 hosted more than 780 lectures, tutorials, roundtable discussions, and panels, along with 550 exhibitors.

Game Luster took out a one-day pass to last year’s GDC, to get a first hand look at some of 2018’s developer favorites. Some notables were AreiaBot PartyHarold Halibut, and Away Out. More than just a place for demoing the latest games, the GDC is important for a number of reasons.

Opens up opportunities for game developers

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The biggest companies in gaming converge on the GDC. This means game developers have the opportunity to establish networks and connections. This opportunity is particularly important to freelance game developers in light of the industry “moving more and more into the “gig” structure for hiring,” as pointed out in ‘Remote Freelancing in Game Design’ published on Medium. In this setup, freelancers are hired to develop games, sometimes remotely, rather than full-time employees. Networking is vital in this case, and freelancers can do this by creating a presence on social media and joining game development communities like TigSource and Polycount. Attending an event like the GDC is important as it is a way to get noticed by industry titans looking for top-level talent. Yoss highlights how companies nowadays need to fill freelance tech roles very quickly especially in game development. In the case of the GDC, freelancers showcase their skills via the Game Design Challenge and the Independent Games Festival. What’s more, booths like Indie Megabooth and Double Fine’s Day at the Devs booth were actively looking for new talent.

A showcase for game companies

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Game companies use the GDC to showcase their latest innovations or make important announcements. Microsoft teased details about its revolutionary DirectX 12 at GDC 2014, while Atari announced its return to hardware platforms with a glimpse of the Atari VCS at GDC 2018. That tradition has continued this year with Google unveiling Google Stadia, a gaming initiative to provide a platform for gamers, developers, and streamers. Nintendo announced the indie-developed Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer feat. The Legend of Zelda. Epic Games and Quantic Dream revealed that their partnership, which will, among other things, bring three PlayStation exclusives — Detroit: Become HumanHeavy Rain, and Beyond: Two Souls to the PC. Expect more of the same moving forward in light of the GDC attracting more and more attendees. This means a bigger platform for companies like Google and Nintendo.

While the GDC is for professionals, fans can still benefit from the industry’s best and biggest players gathering in one place. The event will facilitate brainstorming sessions and make collaborations among developers possible.

It’s no surprise that the GDC continues to be so popular, so much so that anticipation for GDC 2020 is ramping up. It will be held again in Moscone Convention Center from March 16–20 next year.