Develop brings you a handy guide to attending this year's Game Developers Conference

GDC 2012: The essential digest

It’s hard to believe that GDC is already here again, but the fact is that the busiest week in the games development calendar is back.

This year’s GDC is set deliver the familiar mix of sessions, panels, tutorials, summits, trade booths and, of course, parties.

But that’s not to say the show’s 26th year will mimic the previous GDCs. There’s a new approach to keynotes, a host of fresh topics and discussions, and even some new sessions.All of which can get a little overwhelming.

Thankfully Develop is here with all the essential information you need. We’ve got times, dates, contact numbers, keynotes, the expo and registration details all covered.

On Friday you’ll see our carefully considered conference schedule for those with no time to build their own, which makes sure you have plenty of opportunity to see the key sessions, time to make your way between venues, and even one late start so you can dash to Mel’s Diner for a quick hangover cure.

And if you’re visiting the show, remember; be nice to the Conference Associates. They make GDC happen, and as head organiser and general manager Meggan Scavio once said “one day they might be your boss”.

On the subject of Scavio, she’s more excited by this year’s show than ever before.

”The pressure was on to continue to grow and evolve GDC after our exciting and record-breaking twenty-fifth anniversary last year.

"But once again, the industry has topped itself by offering up even more thrilling talks that can only happen at GDC, where the entire industry converges for the love of games and pushing the boundaries of development further and further,” says the GDC boss.

“There are new ways to find and appreciate the content that matters to you – like the ‘Flash Forward’, or the six discipline-specific Track Keynotes, which would likely be main conference keynotes anywhere else – that will also make this year’s GDC more valuable to attendees than ever.”

By the sounds of it, this year’s event is all set to be a great GDC. If you’re at the show the Develop team will see you there. And, finally, do drop us a line if you want to meet in person.


Along with the sessions that make up the core conference, the expo forms one of the most significant elements of GDC 2012.

Bringing together 100s of game companies of every kind across the San Francisco Moscone Centre’s vast North Hall D and West Hall, it’s the place to network, get your hands on tools and tech and pick up those all-important GDC party invites.

If you’re new to the event, prepare yourself; getting to see everything the expo floor can offer could take a week, so pick carefully, and leave plenty of time to squeeze through the crowds.

Close to the Expo lies the GDC Business Centre; a key resource at the show found at West Hall 1st Floor.

Expo hours:
Wednesday, March 7th:

Thursday, March 8th:

Friday, March 9th:


Takes place from March 5th to 9th at approximately 9am to 6pm every day

The event will be situated at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

On-site registration starts from Sunday, March 4th at 5pm

Registration hotlines:

(415) 947-6926
(866) 535-8997

GDC Expo: March 7th to 9th
Summits and tutorials: March 5th to 6th
Main conference: March 7th to 9th


The Summits occur on the Monday and Tuesday of the show. Take your pick from the following while spaces remain:

AI Summit
Game IT Summit
Localisation Summit
Games for Change
GDC Education Summit
Independent Games Summit
Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit
Social & Online Games Summit


This year GDC has adopted a new format for its keynote sessions.

Shunning the tradition of presenting one central main conference keynote, the 2012 organisers have instead scheduled six Track Keynotes, each of which represents the various disciplines on which the main conference is arranged.

Meanwhile the 9am Monday opening slot typically reserved for the main keynote this time goes to ‘Flash Forward’; a unique presentation that gives all main conference speakers the opportunity to take to the stage for just sixty seconds each to give a brief overview of their forthcoming session.

The track keynotes are:

Audio Track: Build That Wall: Creating the Audio for Bastion by Darren Korb, audio director, Supergiant Games

Business, Marketing & Management Track:Why ‘Free’ and Cross-Platform Is The Future of Gaming by John Schappert, chief operating officer, Zynga

Game Design Track: How I Got My Mom to Play Through Plants Vs. Zombies by George Fan, senior game designer, PopCap

Production Track: Concrete Practices to be a Better Leader: Framing & Intention by Brian Sharp, lead engineer, Bungie

Programming Track: Designing a Technology Strategy for a Large Publisher by Julian Merceron, worldwide technology director, Square Enix

Visual Arts Track: The Art of Diablo 3 by Christian Lichtner, art director, Blizzard Entertainment

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