Game Developer’s Conference Roundup

OK, the GDC, the Game Developer's conference is over, and it's time for my geek-career roundup.

Now a bit of a disclaimer – I went for half a day mostly to hit the trade floor.  I'm very busy right now and the management track panels weren't anything I hadn't already done or taken.  The panels there looked quite good, it's just I've been doing the IT PM thing for . . . about six or more years.  In fact one of my teachers was there anyway.

So I wandered around, got my impressions, and analyzed what was going on in gaming and peripheral tech.  You know me – business via naturalistic observation.  Here's what impressed me.

  • It was lower-key than last year.  I'm not sure why this is, but I'm pretty sure it's the economy.
  • I saw a lot of new companies, some 1-3 years old, who provided services to gaming companies.  Most of these impressed me, some quite a bit, and many had very young staff.  I think it's clear people get that gaming is an industry with a lot of opportunity for "service" – consulting, mocap, testing, etc.  This shows many opportunities – and the maturing of the gaming industry.
  • Sony 3D and Move.  The Move was OK, looked decent, and interfaced OK with a camera.  The PS3 3D actually looked really good.  Good for Sony.
  • Saw lots of indie games, but nothing really sent me this year.  I'm wondering if the indie/retro scene is burning itself out.
  • Aggressive recruiting by other countries looking for companies and/or individuals willing to relocate temporarily or permanently to work there in the gaming industry.  The Canadians of course had this down to a science, but Scotland's reps were really good and savvy.  Northern European countries also had a strong presence.  This seemed more aggressive than last year, and I think fits the theory that some countries realize America's economy leaves it vulnerable to a brain drain.
  • Recruiting was surprisingly active for companies – I think that's a good sign job-wise.
  • I ran into the person who manages Charisma Plus 2 Models – a company that provides models for game events.  By models they don't just mean pretty faces – they mean people who know gaming, performances, and cover the different looks and knowledge a presentation may need.

My overall impression was positive, with some up-and comers and savvy people looking to adapt and take advantages of the worldwide economic changes and changes in the game industry.  I especially believe in the next few years (especially with attempts to save money by outsourcing) that "game industry service companies" have a bright future – even more than I believed last year.

Though they may be in Scotland, Canada, or Sweden if those recruiters have any say.

– Steven Savage