Playing Games in San Francisco

April 30, 2013

By Tim Belter ’13

At the 2013 Game Developers Conference, Bradley students got to see the future of the video game industry, interact with cutting-edge technology and network with professionals from every corner of the industry.

Dr. Monica McGill and five Interactive Media students attended the GDC in San Francisco in late March. Several Bradley alumni were also in attendance, and met with Dr. McGill and the students, and networking sessions helped the students get their names out to the developers.

“I spent most of my time at the GDC interacting with the designers at the Riot Games booth,” said Andrew Howell, a senior game design major. “Talking to people in the business about their process and experiences is surprisingly easy in the industry, and this is on full display at the GDC. Having that kind of information can help you mentally prepare for working every day in the industry.”

An array of exhibits showcased everything from simple mobile and social games to the powerful Sony PlayStation 4, but Dr. McGill had eyes for the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality device that displays games on a wrap-around headset monitor.

“The 3D headgear really immerses you into the game,” said Dr. McGill.

The major companies, including heavyweights like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were all present, but smaller, independent developers had a big presence as well. Most of the developers Dr. McGill spoke with were independent.

“The indie gaming movement is gaining more and more momentum,” she said. “It’s not easy to break into, but you work at it you can make a name for yourself.”

The group also attended several panels and presentations, including one that looked at effective game design in Farmville 2 and a speech on diversity and gender issues in the industry. Other schools focused on game design had booths at the event with games from their students on display.

The conference offered an exciting glimpse of the professional world that awaits the students. The gaming industry can be hard to enter, but like any career, students who do well and build their skills will go far.

“Students have to be dedicated to building themselves and their own brand through networking and their portfolio,” Dr. McGill said. “It’s a huge benefit to network at the conference, meeting people from the industry and seeing who’s hiring.”