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GDC: It's Not Just Lectures, You Know
GDC: It's Not Just Lectures, You Know
February 18, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

February 18, 2008 | By Jill Duffy
More: Console/PC, GDC

Attending Game Developers Conference, but want to know what's fun beyond just the lectures?

Game Developer and Game Career Guide's Jill Duffy runs down some of the best parties, booth crawls, awards, and even musical concerts available this week.

Tuesday: IGDA Party

This members-only event has become one of the biggest parties at GDC (last year, the queue to get in went halfway down the block). It will be held in '08 on Tuesday night from 8:00pm to midnight at the Westin San Francisco on Market Street (also known as The Argent).

Of all the GDC parties, it's the one that I personally feel most comfortable at because there are no pretenses and no product promos. It's also the place where I'm most likely to run into people I actually want to see! Check your ego at the door, drop the shoptalk, and just come hang out.

Wednesday: Choice Awards

An older industry friend of mine once told me that in the days of yore, the Game Developers Choice Awards (which I've only been attending for about three or four years now) were once like a black tie gala. Though tickets were expensive for non-honorees, you were treated to a sit-down dinner with full service during the show. Everyone rented tuxedos and donned evening wear.

Last year, to revive that proud peacock experience, I actually encouraged some co-workers to go in ball gown attire. Tasteful as all that may have seemed, I think the dress code got in the way of the spirit of the awards, which have evolved over time into a more joyful celebration.

Go, if for no other reason, to hear the Lifetime Achievement Award winner speak, and take away a renewed sense of inspiration about why you do what you do for a living. The Choice Awards are the most respectable video game awards among professionals, and though the venue is more crowded than it was ten years ago, I'm proud that we can now revel together sans three-inch heels.

Wednesday: Independent Games Festival Awards

Back-to-back with the Choice Awards is the Independent Games Festival Awards, not only a recognition program but also a fountain of true innovation, experimentation, and boundary-pushing for the game industry. The finalists and winners are usually somewhat new to the industry or are self-employed, often with not only their reputation on the line, but their home equity, too.

Winning an IGF award is an honest to goodness chance to make it in the industry, and it's truly a moving experience to see it happen to developers again and again. Check out work by the finalists before the show at

Wednesday: Expo and Booth Crawl

Tools become toys in the GDC Expo hall. The show floor is a bumping and hopping little event all its own, where developers wander, play, noodle, and doodle.

But if you're a hyper organized producer-type who needs to carve out a specific timeslot for the floor, jot down Wednesday, February 20, 4:30pm in your GDC Excel sheet for the annual Booth Crawl. The Booth Crawl is like a quickie tour of the show floor where you can catch the highlights, usually while drinking domestic beer from the bottle.

Wednesday through Friday: Career Networking Bar

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila-"interview"? New to the Career Pavilion this year is a Career Networking Bar. Call me kooky, but this just seems like a bad idea waiting to happen.

From the description, however, the Networking Bar sounds like it's up for an airport bar vibe, with couches and tables providing a miniature oasis from interview-mode stress of the Pavilion.See the West Hall Expo hours for times.

Thursday: Suite Night

Suite Night, an annual tradition at GDC, is something like hotel party hopping, only it all takes place in one hotel. Different rooms host different parties, sponsored by various companies (both game developers and tools vendors) in the game industry. This year's Suite Night is slated for the W Hotel, which has a pretty nice bar if you grow weary of networking.

Friday: Video Games Live Concert

Returning to the Nob Hill Masonic Center on Friday, the last night of GDC, is the Video Games Live concert. The show features a live orchestra playing montages of video game music as well as a giant monitor playing montages of video game footage.

It's funny, it's quirky, it's a little bit geeky ... but this is your week to geek out if you want. Plus, when do you get the chance to hear a live orchestra actually play music you know?

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