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Master Your Game Plan: 12 Pro Tips for a Successful GDC 2024

Updated: Feb 29


Sierra Division Art Outsourcing Studio Game Developers Conference

Happening from March 18 to 22 in San Francisco, the Game Developers Conference is the go-to event in North America to connect with Game industry professionals and learn more about the latest trends and developments.


Whether you are going on behalf of your company or attending on your own, preparation is key to having a successful and productive time at the conference. Here are 12 tips from our Studio to help guide you as you gear up for the event.


Attendees at Game Developers Conference Expo Floor

Image Credit: GDC Official

 

PLAN FOR GDC EARLY


1) Set a Goal for Attending GDC 

There are several reasons to attend GDC, such as networking with peers to staying updated on industry trends. To give you focus, start by defining your primary goal for attending. This could mean finding new clients or securing in-person meetings with studio recruiters to increase job prospects. Once you've set your goal, it will be easier to identify the key individuals, companies, and activities you want to meet with. This approach will keep you on track and help maximize your time at the event.


Meet with the right outsourcing studios at GDC with the help of our guide.


2) Research Passes and Activities

GDC is massive and there's a lot to see and do. In 2023, GDC drew more than 28,000 attendees, held 700 sessions, and had more than 330 exhibitors on the Expo Floor*. One can only imagine what this year will have in store.


There are four tier passes for GDC, and your choice decides your access. If you're goal is to learn about the industry, go for the Summits badge. It grants access to Monday and Tuesday sessions before the Expo. For networking, the Expo badge works.


There are also plenty of networking activities you can do without a badge. Studios, Companies, and self-interest groups will often organize their own events, such as industry mixers or summits at various locations near Moscone Center.


Expo Floor Game Developers Conference Epic Games Booth

GDC attendees watching the Epic Games "State of Unreal"

Image Credit: Official GDC


3) Book Your Trip

If you're fortunate enough to call San Francisco home, you've got a head start. But for those traveling from elsewhere, it's time to secure your flights and accommodations. Take advantage of any hotel discounts available through GDC's official website to keep expenses in check. San Francisco can also get sketchy. For your safety, and especially if you are traveling alone, avoid the Tenderloin area when booking a hotel.


4) Scan Social Media for GDC Mentions

From late January leading up to the conference, you'll notice a surge in GDC-related posts, with many individuals and companies announcing their presence. Consider joining the conversation by making your own post—it's an excellent opportunity to discover if people you know will also be attending, potentially saving you the effort of individually reaching out to all your contacts to inquire about their plans. 


Social media also serves as the prime platform for discovering the parties, networking events, and summits occurring alongside the conference. Lookout for party lists being shared on GDC related Facebook groups or find the invites through Eventbrite.


5) Schedule Meetings in Advance

It's common for people's schedules to fill up quickly before the conference kicks off. If you simply walk up to a booth on the Expo Floor, the business development manager or recruiter you're eager to speak with might already be busy in meetings. Chance encounters do happen, especially at networking events or even while queuing for your GDC pass, but do aim to secure some meetings in advance.


When booking meetings, look for a single location to host them so that you’re not running around San Francisco. If you don’t have a booth, hotel lobbies near Moscone Center are a popular option. Get there early to grab a spot while you wait for your meeting attendees to show up. However, if you find that you’ll need to do some running around to get from meeting to meeting, give yourself a good buffer.



6) Networking Prep

You never know who you will run into at GDC. Order enough business cards to hand out or create a digital business card that includes all of your most important links, such as your portfolio, website and social media accounts.


Wi-Fi can be spotty at conferences, so prepare an offline version of your work to avoid any technical issues. This is especially important if you are planning on meeting with clients or recruiters and want to show them your work.


7) Bring Unique Swag

Attending GDC presents a strategic opportunity to showcase your personal or company brand. Stand out from the crowd by bringing cool and unique swag for people to remember you by. This could be a keychain with a character from your game or a USB stick with unique art. Think outside the box! Whatever you decide on bringing, think how these items will help spark conversations and leave a lasting impression long after the event concludes.


We will be bringing our sleek new business cards, and also have a fun little surprise.


AT GDC


8) Get your GDC Pass

Get your pass as soon as you arrive. Lines can be long and you'll need your pass to gain access to the Expo Hall and talks.


9) Have Fun Networking and Discovering

You'll want to connect with the studios and companies that will help you achieve your GDC goal. But, don't forget to have some fun and leave room for chance encounters: On the Expo Floor, play some games, try out the latest VR tech, or visit providers to discover what new tools you can add to your arsenal. It's an opportunity to discover new companies, make new connections and pick-up some cool branded swag along the way.


When at parties, now is the time to have some drinks to relax and start conversations, but don't overdo it. It's still a professional conference and you can start having just a coke or a spritzer without alcohol to continue staying social while still being ready and fresh for the next day. Have fun, but remember your goal for attending!


Jacob Norris Unreal Demo at GDC, Epic Games Booth

Last year, GDC attendees go to meet and watch our Creative Director, Jacob Norris, do an Unreal Engine demo at the Epic Games booth.


10) Keep Track of Who You Meet

If you follow Tips #5 and #9 you will be meeting with a ton of people. Keep track of who you meet, make a quick note of what you discussed, and any action items to take after the conference.


AFTER GDC


11) Follow-up

Don't let those new connections go cold. Add everyone you met with to your contact list, and send them quick email or LinkedIn message saying it was nice to meet them. If you discussed working together, follow up with more details or set up a meeting.


12) Reflect on Your Experience

Now is the time to go full-circle. Remember Tip #1 where you set your goal for attending GDC? Now is time to reflect on your experience and see if you reached your goal for attending. Write your thoughts in a private document or go ahead and do a public blog post to let the world know.


We hope you enjoyed our GDC Pro tips!

 

Studios looking to work with a new art outsourcing partner can book a meeting with our team at GDC. Learn more about our art outsourcing and co-development services, as well as ways to partner with us on upcoming projects.


Meet Jacob Norris: Creative Director

Jacob Norris Sierra Division Creative Director

Jacob Norris (aka PurePolygons) is the Creative Director and Founder of Sierra Division. Prior to founding the studio, Jacob worked at Insomniac games, Kojima Productions, Naughty Dog, and lead multiple projects and teams at NVIDIA. Some of the games he’s worked on include, Metal Gear Solid V, Resistance 3, Uncharted 4 and NVIDIA’s RTX Demos, such as Marbles RTX, Ramen Shop, Project Sol, among many others. 


To schedule a meeting with the Sierra Division team, you can use our contact form below or find us through the official GDC Event app.



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1 Comment


G fontanelli
G fontanelli
Mar 04

Really useful, looking forward for applying those ones together haha !

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