GDC Questions

polycounter lvl 5
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theonewhoknocks polycounter lvl 5
I'm planning on going to GDC 2016 and wanted to know if anyone can help me with a couple of questions I have, this would be my first GDC I attend. I am so excited to meet fellow Polycounters:

1. Best pass to get (I've researched this on the internet and didn't really find what I was looking for. I am mainly going for networking, but I wanted to know if there would be any talks that would benefit lets say a 3D Artist or Environment Artist/Level Designer. There is also the added benefits of the additional mixers with the more costly passes. So from your experience, do you think the expo pass is enough? There also isn't really a schedule of talks yet on the GDC website and I want to make sure I get something before they sellout.

2. Portfolio (Would it matter to have your portfolio on an iPad, or are business cards good enough?)

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  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 9
    Unless you feel like you absolutely need the expensive pass since there's some talk or another that looks amazing and highly relevant to what you do, just get the cheap one. The ability to go and listen to talks is nice, but it's not ultimately the most valuable thing you'll get out of going to GDC if you're looking for a job. Also, there are generally lots of people who won't mind sharing their fancypants passes if you ask nicely and have a good rapport.

    As far as portfolios are concerned, you should absolutely have it on an iPad or other similar device if possible if you want to do any sort of portfolio review. Having an image gallery in a tablet form factor makes reviewing images super easy, and a business card tells people almost nothing about you other than the fact that you're willing to spend a few bucks on a nice card.

    Now, back to that "most valuable thing": Go to parties, bars, and meetups.

    Official mixers are nice and all, but the real action happens at things like the Polycount meetup and parties thrown by companies like Blizzard. The W hotel bar is extremely popular around GDC because it's a couple of blocks away from the convention center, it has good drinks, and it isn't crazy loud. Other popular spots include Lefty O'Doul's and the bars and restaurants around the convention center.

    /r/gamedev on Reddit usually has a list of official and unofficial meetups that pops up around GDC and gets stickied or reposted often.

    The IGDA Facebook pages often have good resources for people who want to meet up.

    If you're going there with people, stick together and share resources. If you're going alone, see if you can meet up with people from Polycount or other similar sites. Have Facebook friends in the industry? See what they're doing and arrange your schedule so you can meet.

    I know this sounds dumb, but tip your waiters and waitresses. Lots of aspiring game industry people seem to be really bad about tipping.

    Finally, the second most important thing: Wear comfortable shoes.

    You're going to be standing for 12+ hours per day, so you should be wearing the most comfortable shoes possible. If you don't have comfortable, well-padded shoes, get some. This is an investment in your future. If you want to be able to keep up with everything that's going on, you don't want to be hobbling around on bloody stumps. Pay $50-$100 and get a nice pair of sports or business casual shoes that fit you well and look semi-decent. Break them in beforehand.

    The first year I went to GDC, my feet hurt for a week afterwards. At GDC 2015, I wore comfortable shoes and didn't even realize I was standing all day.
  • theonewhoknocks
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    theonewhoknocks polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks Swizzle! Just the advice I was looking for. I really didn't want to spend $400-$600 on a pass, but I also didn't want to miss talks that would benefit me. You're definitely right though, the main reason to go there is to network. I have a couple of friends i'll be going with that live in SF, not sure what kind of passes they will have though. I'll more than likely stick with the expo pass since it's my first time there, and save my money.

    I will for sure be going to the Polycount meetup wherever it ends up happening. Looking forward to meeting everyone. Thanks again!


  • ironbelly
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    ironbelly polycounter lvl 6
    I also agree, when going for networking you don't need a full pass unless you've REALLY got some talks to go see.

    Again, I also agree to put pretty much everything you can fit into your iPad for viewing. Make sure its all downloaded locally too. Bring several chargers in case you lose one (not that its hard to find one, but its a distraction you dont need!).

    On business cards - since you're an artist you can and SHOULD make some smashing cards. I recommend Moo.com. Being able to put a different image on each card (well, more like 5-10 or so of your best works that fit) with excellent quality really makes an impact. Most people barely remember who they talked to until they get home and pull out their stack of cards and go through them. Personally I write a little e-mail to everyone I collect, those I don't remember get some generic "nice meeting you" e-mail, but an excellent card helps me remember who they were to craft a more personal message.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi interpolator
    I'd also investigate applying for the Conference Associate programs ASAP.  If you get in, you commit a minimum 25 hours (but don't HAVE to do more than that) volunteering, but you get a free Full Access Pass with it.  

    A couple Polycounters, including me, are CA veterans, and it's a fantastic program and intensive networking opportunity across the spectrum of developers.

    Deadline is VERY soon (January 7th I believe).

    http://www.gdconf.com/attend/conferenceassociates.html
  • theonewhoknocks
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    theonewhoknocks polycounter lvl 5
    @ironbelly ;
    Definitely agree with you on the full pass. At this point, i'm more than likely going with just the expo pass. The next step up was the education summit pass, which has some additional access. I'll for sure be bringing an iPad with my work on it. It just feels so much easier (and elegant) to turn it on and have your stuff there to instantly show others. Great idea with the business cards!

    @BRIAN "PANDA" CHOI
    I was really considering this, but since it's my second time in San Francisco, I wanted to do other stuff outside of GDC. It's also technically my vacation time from work  :smile: .
  • ironbelly
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    ironbelly polycounter lvl 6
    Good luck @theonewhoknocks - We'll see if I can swing down to GDC this year too. If so, I'll be in touch :D
  • theonewhoknocks
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    theonewhoknocks polycounter lvl 5
    ironbelly said:
    Good luck @theonewhoknocks - We'll see if I can swing down to GDC this year too. If so, I'll be in touch :D
    Great, would love to meet!
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