Game Developers Conference

Game Developers Conference
Game Developers Conference
Game Developers Conference Logo.png
Official Logo of the Game Developers Conference
Status Active
Genre Video Game Development
Venue Varies
Location Varies
Country Varies
First held 1988
Organizer UBM TechWeb
Official website

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers, focusing on learning, inspiration, and networking. The event comprises an expo, networking events, awards shows such as the Independent Games Festival and the Game Developers Choice Awards, and a variety of tutorials, lectures, and roundtables by industry professionals on game-related topics covering programming, design, audio, production, business and management, and visual arts.



Outside the San Jose Convention Center during GDC 2004.

Originally called the Computer Game Developers Conference, the first conference was organized in 1988 by Chris Crawford in his San Jose, California-area living room. About twenty-seven designers attended, including Don Daglow, Brenda Laurel, Brian Moriarty, Gordon Walton, Tim Brengle, Cliff Johnson, Dave Menconi, and Carol and Ivan Manley. The second conference, held that same year at a Holiday Inn at Milpitas, attracted about 150 developers. Ernest W. Adams was a director from 1991 to 1995, and during this period conferences moved between facilities in Santa Clara, San Jose and Long Beach, growing steadily in popularity, and changing from a small, undercapitalized company with previous financial losses into a profitable million-dollar business. Attendance in this period grew from 525 to 2387. By 1994 the CGDC could afford to sponsor the creation of the Computer Game Developers Association with Adams as its founding director. In 2005, the GDC moved to the new Moscone Center West, in the heart of San Francisco's SOMA district, and reported over 12,000 attendees. The GDC returned to San Jose in 2006, reporting over 12,500 attendees, and returned to San Francisco in 2007 – where the organizers expect it will stay for the foreseeable future. Attendance figures continued to rise in following years with 18,000 people attending the 2008 event.[1] The 2009 Game Developers Conference was held in San Francisco, on March 23–27, 2009.[2] The IGDA awarded 25 scholarships to send qualified students to attend the 2009 GDC.

Crawford continued to give the conference keynote address for the first several years of the conference, including the famous "whip" speech in the early 1990s where he punctuated a point about game tuning and player involvement by cracking a bullwhip perilously close to the front row of the audience.

Crawford also founded The Journal of Computer Game Design in 1987 in parallel to beginning the GDC, and served as publisher and editor of the academic-style journal through 1996.

The CGDC changed its name to "Game Developers Conference" in 1999. The GDC has also hosted the Spotlight Awards from 1997 to 1999, the Independent Games Festival since 1999 and the Game Developers Choice Awards since 2001. The GDC is also used for the annual meeting of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

The Independent Games Festival is the first and largest competition for independent games, and highlights the innovative achievements of developers ranging in size from individuals building PC titles to studio teams creating console downloadable titles. A pool of judges from the game industry selects the finalists and winners, and the individual creators are named as the recipients of the awards. The IGF is managed and developed by UBM TechWeb, the organizer of the GDC.

The entrance to Game Developers Conference 2005

The Game Developers Choice Awards is the game industry's only open, peer-based awards show. Any member of the IGDA may nominate games, and then the membership votes on the finalists. As with the IGF, the individual creators are named as the recipients of the awards. Specialty awards such as Lifetime Achievement and First Penguin are determined by the GDCA committee, and all are revealed at the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony at the GDC. The IGF and the GDCA are presented back to back, in an awards show produced by UBM TechWeb, typically on the Wednesday of the GDC.

UBM TechWeb has added several other events to the GDC in recent years. At the GDC Expo, developers display the latest techniques useful in game development. "GDC Mobile," first held in 2002, focuses on developing games for mobile phones. Starting in 2004, the GDC partnered with Game Connection to present Game Connection @ GDC, a live matchmaking service for developers and publishers, which in 2007 expanded to include Game Connection Services for outsourcing and other services. Starting in 2006, the GDC partnered with Video Games Live to feature their symphonic performance of videogame music as the closing night event. In addition, the GDC has hosted a number of conference-wide game experiments designed by GameLab.

The Archives of the 2000-2007 GDC Conference are available from UBM's website Archives page.

UBM TechWeb has also produced several spinoff events. For example, the first GDC Europe (GDCE) was featured at the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in London between August 31 and September 1, 2001. Other GDC-related events include the Serious Games Summit, first held in 2004 as a GDC tutorial, and spun off as a standalone event in 2005, focusing on developing games for practical purposes, such as education, corporate training, military, and health care applications; and the Hollywood and Games Summit in conjunction with The Hollywood Reporter first held in June 2006. Additional events include the Game Advertising Summit, the Game Outsourcing Summit, the Game Career Seminar, GDC Russia, the China Game Summit, GDC London, the London Games Summit, the London Game Career Fair, and many others. In late 2006, UBM TechWeb acquired The Game Initiative, and now produces the Austin Game Developers Conference.

Game Design Challenge

Eric Zimmerman came up with the Game Design Challenge.[3] "The idea of the challenge, he said, was to give everyone a sense of the process behind game design, and to attempt to get everyone thinking about new kinds of games." No actual game needs to be built, just designed. The goal of 2nd annual Game Design Challenge was to create a game based on Emily Dickinson. It was won by Will Wright who designed an Emily Dickinson personality simulator contained entirely on a USB flash drive. The personality would interact with the player by sending Instant Messages and email. The goal was to maintain a stable relationship and avoid the two extremes of romantic obsession with the player or suicidal depression. The first occurrence meant constant interruptions when using the computer. The latter occurrence allowed for the simulation to delete itself. The 3rd time, the task was to create a game worthy of a Nobel Prize. Harvey Smith won with his PeaceBomb game. It would utilize wireless devices to organize flash mobs to engage in random acts of charity. For the first 3 challenges, Eric Zimmerman has always ended the challenge by indicating that all the contestants ideas could really be made into a game.

The goal of 4th annual Game Design Challenge was to create a game which was a religion, or which could become one. It was won by Jason Rohrer who designed a one-player at a time multiplayer game named Chain World contained entirely on a USB flash drive.[4]


Conference Location Dates
GDC Europe 2009 Cologne, Germany August 17-19
GDC Austin 2009 Austin, Texas September 15-28
GDC China 2009 Shanghai, China October 11-13
GDC 2010 San Francisco, California March 9-13
GDC Canada 2010 Vancouver, BC May 6-7
GDC Europe 2010 Cologne, Germany August 16-18
GDC Online 2010 Austin, Texas October 5-8
GDC China 2010 Shanghai, China December 5-7
GDC 2011 San Francisco, California February 28 - March 4
GDC Europe 2011 Cologne, Germany August 15-17
GDC Online 2011 Austin, Texas October 10-13
GDC China 2011 Shanghai, China November 14-16
GDC 2012 San Francisco, California March 5-9
GDC Europe 2012 Cologne, Germany August 13-15


External links

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