GDC: The First-Person Perspective of a Noob

Last month, ThinkSpace Education student Thor Bremer attended his first ever GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) situated in sunny San Francisco. For any composers or sound designers, this is a great event if you are able to attend as it’s the largest professional game industry conference.

Here’s what Thor had to say about his GDC experience…

It’s my first day back from my first-ever GDC and I’m still attempting to process everything that I experienced over the course of the conference. This blog post is an attempt to do that while trying to offer some insight to those considering going.

What is GDC?

GDC is the Game Developer’s Conference. It’s a place for people in all aspects of the video game industry to meet and learn. Everyone involved in game-making: artists, programmers, producers, audio, they all go. It’s five days of talks, mixers, awards ceremonies and exhibitions.

There are three main components of GDC, which I’ll expound upon:

Talks: The talks at GDC are focused discussions on the various aspects of the industry. These talks are given by top industry pros, on their most current work. It’s the most up-to-date information you can get. I had the Audio Track pass, which allowed me into (with few exceptions) the audio talks. Those mostly run from Tuesday-Friday. I went to many talks on both sound design and music. I took a medium-sized notebook with me and it’s over half-full now! If you’re looking to learn, you won’t be disappointed. Some of the talks were refreshers for me, but some of them were very advanced and I struggled to know what they were talking about! I got something out of every talk, even if I didn’t understand everything that was discussed.

Connections: Many people go to GDC purely for networking. It’s the one time that all of the people in the game industry are all in the same place. Bring your business cards! If you’re looking to get into the industry, this is the place to meet people. I met a ton of people this week and it’s true what they say about the game industry: everyone’s friendly! I’m fairly introverted, but everyone there is attending in part to meet people, so it’s really easy to talk to people there. Every morning there’s an audio meetup at a coffee shop and most nights there are parties and events to go to (often with a free drink or two!).

Exhibition hall: Lots of things to check out. Are you in the ThinkSpace game courses learning Fmod? You can talk to the Fmod gang! I did! Want to check out the newest version of Nuendo? You can, and they’ll tell you about it. I got to play a new Oculus Rift game as well as the new Ossic headphones (they’re amazing), among many other products. Lots of VR stuff on display to try, but the slant is on the development side. If you’re going to play lots of games, this isn’t the place to go. It’s far more of a trade show as you would expect.

What should you expect out of GDC?

Whatever you’re looking for. Some people go only for the expo. They want to try out new developer tools and see what the market has to offer. Some people are going purely to meet people. Some people are there to learn. For many it’s a mix of all of that. I mostly went to talks, but also saw everything on the expo floor as well as went to the audio meetup most mornings.

My experience

I’m new to this. I haven’t composed for a full game yet. I am a noob. There were times when I felt out of place. I wondered why I was there sometimes, because I didn’t know what they were talking about. That’s okay, though. It gave me the motivation to work hard so that next year I have more to show! There is a music and sound design demo derby, where a panel of pros listens to your reel and gives you feedback. I plan to enter my demo next year.

Honestly, there were also times where I was simply overwhelmed. My brain couldn’t handle all of the information that I was feeding it. I’m still processing it! It’s like cramming a couple months of education into five days. It’s a lot to process.


Thanks for sharing your experience, Thor! It sounds incredibly worthwhile and if anyone can, they should definitely look into attending next year’s conference.

If you would like to learn more about how to become a professional in the game industry, why not check out our degree course in game music and audio? If you have any questions, get in touch with Brad at Bradley@ThinkSpaceEducation.com.

About the Author
Matt Lightbound

Matt Lightbound

Matt is at the helm of all the things video game related. He's worked in the industry as a sound designer, composer, audio editor and voice casting/directing.

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