IGF / GDC 2010 Wrap-Up

TRAUMA IGF Booth Caption

… but somehow I survived nonetheless. I recently saw that it is now one month since I returned from San Francisco. After my return, somehow my life exploded into an even bigger mess than before. It was a bit like in Burnout Revenge crash mode when you get an extra explosion AFTER you already exploded a couple of times. The burnt-out husk of what once was a car suddenly detonates once more completely abandoning all resemblance to vehicular objects and entering the realm of surreal sculptures. That was my life over the last month. The last time I worked on TRAUMA was in my hotel room before the GDC.

IGF Award Show

Speaking of which, the GDC was quite interesting. Here are some random observations.

  • It was too expensive. I said it before and I say it again. This is insane. The most interesting thing about the GDC itself was the Independent Games Summit. But charging 2000$ for participation in an indie meeting is INSULTING. IGF paid all the entry fees but the trip alone was already too expensive to afford it every year. I have to sell the Android phone I got to recover some of the costs. The presentations were cool but you will miss most of them anyway. So the GDC Vault with all the video recordings is much more useful. Sadly, GDC offers no “Vault Only” tickets.
  • No support from IGF? WTF?! The great thing about IGF is not the prize money or anything. It’s simply the free exposure all finalists get. I really enjoyed that part. What REALLY disappointed me about the IGF is the complete lack of any kind of service or support. Get this: during the ENTIRE GDC I haven’t men even ONE person responsible for the IGF. I received an email that told me when to show up to set up my stuff. I arrived at an empty pavilion with other confused finalists. There was no-one from IGF to even say “Hello” to us. When it was time for the award ceremony, I almost missed it because there was nobody there to tell us where to go. There was no attempt to facilitate meeting with other indies or judges. I felt like nobody from IGF or GDC gave a shit whether I was there or not. If you didn’t win the IGF, don’t feel bad. This is not the indie gathering you were looking for.
  • The best part about the GDC is the non-GDC part. A huge advantage of the GDC seems to be the fact that the entire industry is at ONE SPOT. So I had the time of my life at the self-organized brainygamer.com dinner. I also recorded a podcast with my favorite bloggers from Experience Points. Also I was able to meet a ton of amazing people at my booth. These are the things I remember most fondly from the trip. Because of them, the entire trip was definitively worth doing. But it bugs me that I technically did’t need the GDC to do that.
  • San Francisco is great Continuing on the non-GDC trail of thought, San Francisco is a great place to be. Especially the weather blew me away (literally and figuratively). It is an incredible spot in this planet and If I ever have the opportunity to spend some time of my life there, I won’t think twice. Protip – If you are ever there, try this:
    Krystian in the Roadster 1

    Krystian Enjoying the Roadster

    Krystian Driving Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “IGF / GDC 2010 Wrap-Up”

  1. Simon Carless

    Krystian – a couple of points on this on behalf of the IGF, although I’m trying not to be too defensive :) We deliberately stationed CAs (conference associates) during setup on Tuesday and told them to introduce themselves to people setting up and explain to them about the awards and suchlike. Not sure what time you set up, but they were meant to be doing this all of Wednesday afternoon when most people set up. Sorry if that didn’t happen.

    In addition, and I’m sure a bunch of other finalists will back me up on this, I (representing the IGF) came around the Pavilion multiple times on Thu/Fri/Sat and had a chance to talk to a majority, if not all of the finalists. Sorry I missed you – if I did, it was mainly because the Pavilion was so damn packed it was difficult to cut in to demos. (Actually, I was at the Brainygamer.com dinner also, so odd if we didn’t talk there either.)

    However, I will note that this was the first year that I (Chairman of the IGF) was also in charge of the folks in charge of the entire GDC, so that was _definitely_ a problem with my time to meet and greet. Expect changes there for next year.

    Regarding charging $2000 to participate in an indie meeting – I don’t know if you are counting travel costs, but if not, this just isn’t true. It’s $550 for a Summits pass before early registration, and what’s more, we once again offered SIGNIFICANT discounts to those IGF entrants who weren’t finalists, as well as extending the offer on certain indie-centric mailing lists, etc. It’s difficult for us because the Indie Summit is just one of many, and many of the other subsectors of the biz we cover are much better monetized. But we try hard to make it more affordable for those who can’t afford it.

    Anyhow, sorry if you thought the best part of GDC wasn’t GDC. Just know that we’ll continue organizing the GDC bit anyhow. :P

  2. Krystian Majewski

    Hello Simon, thank your for taking your time to comment.

    Yes, there were some people from GDC staff standing around at Wednesday. They were very polite but didn’t introduce themselves as IGF. They weren’t able to answer any of my questions, always promising to ask their superiors and get back to me. That didn’t happen. They didn’t occur to me as anybody representing IGF.

    As for the $2000 – well the IGF website for Finalists was very keen at pointing out the fact that we have received GDC passes worth $2000 dollars each. I found that amusing considering how you are the chairman of both events. ;)

    It’s true that you can get a restricted pass for $550 if you order early. But for an indie/student that is still simply crazy money. It’s too expensive by a factor of 10x or so. That’s about what I’m used to from other conferences. I don’t think the discounts you are speaking of were of this magnitude. :) I don’t claim I have an understanding of the costs associated with organizing the GDC. I am pretty sure you have a good reason for the pricing structure. I just have the impression that it is made with a very different kind of audience in mind.

    It’s really funny that we didn’t meet. It seems like we were at different tables at the dinner. As for the pavilion – I skipped lunch every day just to make sure I was at the booth at all times. I went to two presentations during the Main Conference. I agree that the floor was packed, I didn’t have the chance to meet all the other finalists either. That’s why I would suggest a dedicated meet & greet session in the future.

    I don’t want to sound ungrateful. As I said, this has been a great opportunity for me and for my game.

    I just wanted to show my side of the story. I’ve put all my savings into the trip, skipped work for 3 weeks and traveled to the other side of the planet. I knew this is going to be a net loss. I was counting on networking and getting feedback. Considering this, I’m left with this uneasy feeling that I didn’t spend my time there as productively as I could have.

  3. Yu-Chung Chen

    nice to read the recap! funny that I came up in the EXP podcast re: RE5 :)

    Anything else you’d like to play cooperatively recently?


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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