A Week of Enlightenment: GDC 2012

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  • If there is a summer camp for the videogame industry, it is GDC (even if it takes place in the beginning of March).

    A giant cross-section of the industry – journalist, developers (both major and independent), middleware makers, students, academics – come together in San Francisco to celebrate games for a week. Last year, I learned how a glitch in World of Warcraft helped epidemiologists understand more about how people act in a disease outbreak and how traumatic events played out in videogames can possibly act as inoculations against nightmares. I listened to game developers talk candidly about their failures and had my brain twisted all the way around by the experimental gameplay. And that is just the start – there were countless other conversations had and overheard that enriched my understanding of gaming and its place in the world of media and art. Basically, GDC is about ideas, and the love of them.

    Sure, there are agendas – games to sell, deals to make, jobs to get – but unlike E3, for example, the hype for the next big release just isn’t there. In fact, the biggest media news this week will likely come out of the Apple press conference, not GDC.

    As journalists and commentators, we come to GDC to hear the conversation. We want to see what the math brains and auteurs are thinking about, not so we can see a meaningless demo of some supposed blockbuster, but so we can catch a glimpse of the outline of the larger industry, to see some indication of what the future holds, and try to impart it to you.

    Last year was my first year at GDC and it was just me. I was incredibly lucky and met countless amazing people, many of which now contribute regularly to Unwinnable and many of which are here at GDC 2012. We will be writing stories about what we see and hear this week and beyond, but we would like to invite you to follow us on Twitter to get a sense of the conference in real time.

    In addition to myself, we have Chuck Moran, Brian Taylor, Jenn Frank, Steve Haske and Gus Mastrapa on the floor, as well as future contributors Brendan Keogh and Katie Williams. Join the conversation!

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    GDC also smells substantially better than E3.

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