Highlights from the first two days of GDC

So tired, so very very wired. But some of my favorite moments from GDC so far:

The weird, wired, super-fast Rapid-Fire Indie Game session. Chris Hecker’s speech at 250 miles an hour about getting your game out there and getting it known. Hearing about the genesis of pOnd, a game that made me laugh so hard I had trouble breathing. (Or have so much trouble breathing that I had to laugh? One of those.) Anna Anthropy’s talk on the indie game scene being so much about the same set of nerds making games for the same set of nerds… followed by a hilariously in-crowd-y performance during the Q&A session. Getting to meet Anna.

Seeing Aaron Reed’s book in the GDC bookstore:

The AI Summit, in just about every particular. Content-wise, even the stuff that has no bearing on my own work, like the talk on influence maps, has been fascinating. People-wise, they’re cool, brilliant folks, and tremendously approachable.

Eric Zimmerman and Naomi Clark’s talk on the Fantasy of Labor, which postulates that people play time management games and their ilk — games that are more or less impossible to fail and largely decoupled from skill — because they like believing persistent work will get them somewhere. I wanted to ask whether they thought this fantasy has become more powerful and more pervasive as the economy has tanked, but that seemed like too much of a downer even for a fairly serious talk. I think there might be some psychological terrain to be mapped that goes even deeper and to even stranger places: namely, a sense of virtue from doing large amounts of busy work that someone else has bidden you to do. I can’t say that has motivated me in real life very much as an adult, but it’s what got me through the first few years of elementary school for sure.

Not favorite: I didn’t get my speaker t-shirt! They asked me what size I wanted, but then it was not in my bag. I am sad. Childishly sad. I don’t wear my shirt from last year much, but I like having it, you know?

One thought on “Highlights from the first two days of GDC”

  1. Great update, thanks! I love the labor stuff and your economic thinking. Even without bringing someone else’s bidding into it, I’m thinking also gaming might feel less like a guilty pleasure if it feels like work. Yet another shade to it: that persistent work yields predictable results. An orderly, predictable and ultimate successful universe. A nice salve for these hard times.

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