GDC Online 2010 - The Short Course

by Parks Associates | Oct. 12, 2010

GDC logoAfter an exciting week at GDC Online, the online game developer's conference (Oct 5 – 8, Austin, Texas), I must confess that I am both exhausted (they are a very social set) and impressed with where the industry is headed. Although the misconception is still alive for some, online gamers do not all look like escapees from a Wayne’s World casting call. Au contraire; most online gamers look like, well, you and me. Depending on the gaming genre, you may now find yourself rubbing elbows with young professionals, stay at home moms/dads or your own middle-aged, albeit still youthful, parents while playing online ( to avoid too many in game discussions of your misspent youth).

It is a whole new world out there. And that world is getting bigger, thanks, in part, to online social gaming (who knew that virtual cows, crops or mob hits could be so much fun?) and mobile gaming. This is not to say that the traditional MMO is out, for there were many bright, shiny, new, beautifully crafted full-fledged massively multi-player games on display at the event. The graphics of these offerings were incredible and the game play was definitely designed to appeal to a wider audience.

It was an educational week for me and I am thankful to everyone who took the time to meet with us, offer an introduction or simply share their time. I am especially grateful to the other members of our panel, How Economic Context Affects Game Development from Start-Up to Grown-Up Companies, as well to the Canadian Consulate General Trade Commission that helped to put it together. I also appreciate the time and patience of the Metaverse Mod Squad group who were always on hand to answer questions and put things into perspective.

I am looking forward to the next gaming conference (E3, in June 2011), where I hope to add to the useful information garnered at this one, including:

• The mobile game development cycle is far shorter than the traditional game development cycle;

• Children are highly accomplished multi-taskers online; some having the ability to squeeze, on average, 11 hours of game play, social networking and media downloads into only 7.5 hours; and

• Game developers are oddly obsessed with zombies. Truly, they love unleashing them on other characters, sending them through obstacle courses, blowing them up, leaving them in odd places and giving them day jobs that require them to carry a briefcase in their cold, dead hands.

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