GDC Director Meggan Scavio is philosophical about the upcoming 25th Game Developers Conference, taking place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from February 28th to March 4th 2011.
“I’ve been with the GDC for a very long time,” she says.
“Not quite half of its lifetime, but close. There is a binding principle that has existed for as long as I can remember. I truly believe that the fact we still adhere to it is the very reason the event continues to thrive today.
“That principle is that ‘content is king’.”
And it is this principle that she believes has driven turnout to the event over the years.
“GDC session content influences the attendance of qualified, experienced developers which in turn fuels the exhibit floor and sponsors. That content needs to be relevant and unbiased. It needs to be valuable to our audience.
“If developers see no value in it, GDC becomes irrelevant. ‘content is king’ is our not-so-secret secret.”
Of course, that does not mean that the event hasn’t undergone significant changes over the years.
“I think the first big shift we saw in both the games industry and the GDC was the proliferation of the consoles. The latter half of the 90s saw them take off, and that was reflected in the name of the conference.
“When it launched in 1988 it was called the Computer Game Developers Conference, but by 1999 it was realised that it was probably more reflective of the industry to re-brand and drop the ‘Computer’.”
That dramatic branding alteration was a clear statement of intent, but such a large-scale reassessment of the conference has not had to become a frequent occurrence. As Scavio points out, this doesn’t mean it has been allowed to grow stagnant.
“Since then the changes have been less drastic, we tend to address the trends in our summits. You can see that with the Social and Online Games Summit and with the Smartphone Summit, both the aftermath of combining summits in order to speak to the ever-changing games landscape.”
Scavio has a clear love of her job, but when asked is able to outline the harder responsibilities she shoulders.
“Sure there are difficult parts. For me the worst part is having to explain to people why their submissions aren’t accepted. It’s never an easy answer and sometimes I don’t have solid feedback. The GDC averages 800 submissions and only a fraction can graduate to sessions, which makes it impossible to explain to everyone why they haven’t got through. I wish I were more helpful in these instances.”
The event itself is what Scavio points to as payoff for her work.
“Not much makes me happier than being onsite and feeling part of such an amazing industry,” she says.
“The collective talent housed in the Moscone Center that week is enough to make my head spin. It’s my favourite week of the year.”