Where are all the good parties at GDC?
The question was asked of me this year earlier than it was last year, and let me confess something – I don’t always know. Every year at GDC, I seem to miss some amazing party that I clearly should have been at, because I was doing something epically geeky like playing Family Business with a group of fellow game developers. Sometimes, a party that I thought would be awesome is really quite meh, and othertimes, the best groups are those that emerge randomly like a giant game dev Katamari (one year, nearly 30 of us had an unplanned dinner in the Hyatt).
So, to answer the question in a general way, here you go:
- The Member Only Parties: I am going to three of these parties, because I am a member of these respective groups. They’re not groups that you can join, per sae, but you get invited to them. If you don’t already know about these, then you need to wait until next year.
- The Sponsored Parties: There are TONS of these events. Typically, they are designed to introduce you to a product or a company, particularly if that company is interested in recruiting you. The higher your personal level, the more likely you are to get invited to some of the really hip and exclusive recruiting parties.
- The Gatherings: There are tons of people who, like you, wonder where the parties are. In general, people come out or back from dinner around 10. The Marriott and the W seem to be perennial favorites of developers, but since we still haven’t recovered from our lack of The Fairmont, it’s hard to say where a given group will be year to year.
- The Non-Party Gatherings: There are lots of people who gather at GDC early in the morning just to hang out, have coffee and play board games. We used to meet by the escalators on the third floor, but a building change means we’re moving. I don’t know where yet.
So, what’s your best bet? Hard to say. I’ll recommend some things that I think might help:
- Don’t spend $2-3K to come to GDC only to get trashed, hung over and embarrassed in front of your gaming icon.
- Bring business cards (250-500).
- Wear comfortable shoes. I don’t, but I have practice.
- Be respectful of developers who are already engaged in conversations if you just want to introduce yourself.
See you there, and if you know of any parties, feel free to add them.