March 16-20 will not be GDC this year. The event has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
(They’re talking about doing something else in the summer that will be GDC or GDC-esque, but it’s hard to know at this point what that will look like, and it’s hard to imagine it will have anything like the same scope.)
I suspect this is the right choice, but it’s also a significant loss for many people who were relying on it for various personal or business reasons.
Meanwhile, this occasion is also an opportunity for talking about and reflecting on how the advantages of GDC might be made more accessible to people from more backgrounds. Solutions that we come up with for the current situation might have some broader applications later.
So some resources:
https://gamedev.world/relief/ . Some developers have invested a lot in being able to go to GDC, and this turn of events can be really problematic for small indies or companies that are otherwise on the edge. This fundraiser looks at ways to help offset that for people.
Mental and Emotional
Take This has some advice on emotional handling if this is more distressing than you expected.
Professional Visibility for Speakers
If you’ve written a talk and now don’t have anywhere to give it, there are some conferences currently accepting pitches for events later in the year. The Nordic Game conference has its call for speakers open through March 4, for instance.
UBM has also said that they’ll be accepting recorded talks and putting them on the GDC Vault and on YouTube for free. Whether that’s a good deal for you will depend on your individual circumstances (and how hard it is for you to set up a recording that you wouldn’t find embarrassing). But it may mean that some talks are available to the general public that otherwise wouldn’t have been.
Community and Knowledge-Sharing
notGDC is an initiative that’s been around since before GDC was canceled. It’s meant as a way for people to share information and enthusiasm around games, without needing to splash out on travel. The website is still up and they are coordinating events.
In narrative games specifically, NarraScope is still expected to happen this year — late May, in Illinois. Feral Vector is one of my favorite indie spaces just for its relaxed and friendly vibe; that is upcoming in the UK as well.
Local events like meet-ups are also a useful way to develop ongoing connections and support, and find people who will help you through a long project; as always in this post, I’ve listed below the events I know of in the interactive narrative space.
For developers looking for connection and support, there are a number of Slack and Discord channels that allow for some connection. Some of these require you to be invited, but some will take open applications. A couple that I know of:
- UK Game Industry Slack (you must be a working member of the game industry who lives in the UK or Ireland)
- inkle maintains a lively Discord channel with conversation about using the ink tool and writing for narrative games
The hallway conversations and the dinners
The things I will find hardest to replace myself are
- social, in-person time with friends, former colleagues, and people I have been wanting to meet. Video calls exist, but a meal with someone is a different kind of experience, one that feels more personal and less like work.
- chance meetings. In-person events vs online ones are like bookstore browsing vs Amazon searching: they let you find things and people that you didn’t know you were looking for. That element of randomness is actually really useful.
- time set aside. The week of GDC, I’m not generally expecting to do anything else, which means a relative lack of distraction and ability to be wholly engaged in what’s going on there.
I’ve heard a few people talk about Google Hangouts with people they’re missing at GDC, and that’s something I’m still thinking about — especially if they’re not 1-1 hangouts (which can be a bit time intensive) but perhaps 4-6 person chats with a group of people of shared interests. Mulling whether there’s something worth exploring in that model.
March 5, “Game Over,” the radio play I wrote about indie game development, is being rebroadcast by BBC Radio 4 at 14.15 (or 2:15 PM, for those of us still keeping time in the US fashion). This is a chance to catch it if you didn’t hear it the first time around and you’re interested. Sometimes the Radio 4 website also hosts the programs from that month for streaming.
March 7 is the next meeting of the SF Bay Interactive Fiction Meetup.
March 11, the London IF Meetup gets together to hear Destina Connor on the history of storytelling in JRPGs. We do expect to record this event and post the recording afterward, so those who aren’t able to join us will be able to view it on YouTube (eventually).
March 22, the Seattle/Tacoma IF Group will meet and discuss A Beauty Cold and Austere, with its author Mike Spivey present to discuss it.
David Schweinsberg is looking to get the Los Angeles IF Meetup running again; there’s a thread for potential discussion on the intfiction forum.
March 26 to April 6 is the London Games Festival, which features a number of different events in different venues, including an interactive narrative session one afternoon, and the indie-rich EGX Rezzed show. (Yes, there’s a picture of me over there — I spoke last year.)
Feral Vector is running May 21-23 in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. This is more “chill, playful and life-affirming hangout with other indie developers” and less “will get you a job later” (though I suppose it might do that too). Tickets go on sale March 30.
NarraScope organizers will be May 29-31, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
Jonathan Li was kind enough to record and edit the talk I gave to the London IF Meetup on storylet-based narrative design. It’s now available on YouTube:
Articles, Podcasts, and Reviews
Tom Chick raves about Sunless Skies. I am pleased to see this, and also, of course, rather biased.
Titans of Text podcast has interviewed Ryan Veeder about his work.
Meghna Jayanth has an amazing profile about her work on Sable, 80 Days, and others.
Mike Spivey has published in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics an article called Engaging the Paradoxical: Zeno’s Paradoxes in Three Works of Interactive Fiction:
“For over two millennia thinkers have wrestled with Zeno’s paradoxes on space, time, motion, and the nature of infinity. In this article we compare and contrast representations of Zeno’s paradoxes in three works of interactive fiction, Beyond Zork, The Chinese Room, and A Beauty Cold and Austere. Each of these works incorporates one of Zeno’s paradoxes as part of a puzzle that the player must solve in order to advance and ultimately complete the story. As such, the reader must engage more deeply with the paradoxes than he or she would in a static work of fiction. In addition, each of the three works presents a different perspective on the intellectual challenges associated with the paradoxes.”
If you plan to enter Spring Thing 2020, you have until March 1, 2020 to declare your intent to enter. Spring Thing is a long-running competition for interactive fiction that welcomes longer games than IF Comp can accommodate, and features a “back garden” section for games that are unfinished, commercial, experimental, or where the author just wants to opt out of the competitive aspect of the competition. The games themselves will be due March 29.
There is a poll for the ADRIFT game of the year in 2019, running on the ADRIFT forum. This covers 11 games released in that system, and voting is open through the end of March.