The general manager for GDC events gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: Meggan Scavio

[Develop’s archive of FAQ interviewees can be found here]

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the general manger of the Game Developers Conference events. There are four GDC’s annually: San Francisco; Europe; China and GDC Online.

What are you working on right now?
The mother of all GDC’s, the San Francisco event, is first and foremost on my plate right now. I am in the middle of working on the Classic Game Postmortems. Last year, as part of our 25th edition celebration, we introduced 11 postmortems that focused on all of the genre defining video games from our past.

Hearing from the developers of the games that inspired the current generation of talent proved an enormous hit. We’re going to make them a regular feature of GDC moving forward, though on a much smaller scale. 2012 will see three Classic Game Postmortems and right now I’m narrowing down who to invite to them. I currently have a list of 73 titles and I don’t know where to start with it.

What was the first video game industry project that you ever worked on?
My first ever GDC was in 2000 in San Jose. I was responsible for working with the two gentlemen that run our Conference Associate (CA) program. The CA’s are our volunteers. They work the event for a certain number of hours in exchange for complimentary passes.

It’s a great deal for college students or others who can’t quite manage a full pass but don’t want to miss the event. Back in 2000, we had about 150 CA’s working GDC. Last year we had 400.

Some have gone on to become pretty well-known, such as Jane McGonigal and Kim Swift. Next time you see a CA at a GDC, be nice to them. They might be hiring you someday.

What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
Oh gosh, my first console was an Atari 2600. I remember playing a lot of Breakout. Like, a lot. I was pretty good at that one.

But I played everything I could get my hands on: Asteroids, Hangman, Pole Position, Yar’s Revenge, Frogger. I could go on. That was a great system. So many wrist cramps.

What was the most recent video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
GDC and the holidays have kept me pretty busy and away from my consoles – although I have Batman: Arkam City and Skyward Sword sitting there glaring at me – so thank the stars for my iPhone.

Despite being totally obsessed earlier in the year with Dungeon Raid, the inability to level up made me move on to Jetpack Joyride, my new go-to iPhone game.

That and I’m still adding floors to my Tiny Tower. I have 126 at the moment.

What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
Easy. Zelda. The Legend of Zelda to be exact. After my Atari system, my parents purchased a NES, and it was over for me. I played so many games on the NES but Zelda was the first one I finished and wanted to immediately play again.

I still have my gold cartridge. Confession: I only managed to kill the final dungeon boss because someone my little sister went to school with told her what to do. Otherwise, I earned every blister.

How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
Not as many as I’d like. Probably just a couple. I need a vacation.

What area of the industry is in need of more ‘investment’?
I’ll interpret ‘investment’ as recognition and reward. I’d like to see more recognition placed on the individual developers involved in each game. While I completely understand that games are made by the team, there are leaders. Why not showcase them?

What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
I think it’s amazing how willing this industry is to adapt to change, and how fast it can do so. The last few years, I’ve been watching developers easily shuffle between triple-A/indie/social and smartphone, elevating the medium each time.

What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
That in some areas video games are still considered ‘toys’. But there is the technology, the art, the writing, the storytelling. I played Heavy Rain in one sitting because I had to find how it ended. I was more immersed in that game than any novel I was reading at the time.

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