Game Developers Conference 2002: Summary & Pictorial
by Jason Della Rocca
Aside from some serious sleep deprivation, this year's Game Developers Conference was a huge success for the IGDA - and the conference as a whole! Contrary to what many may have predicted, most developers were in good spirits and there was an overall positive vibe. The IGDA had a ton of stuff going on at GDC from the dedicated track of IGDA sessions, our heavily trafficked booth and the Game Developers Choice Awards to the Academic Summit, the newly inaugurated "group gatherings" and our Annual Meeting - never mind keeping up with developers at night!
The Good Vibe(TM): Greg Costikyan hangs with Harvey Smith, Randy Smith and Lulu LaMer of ION Storm Austin. Journo gadfly Justin Hall soaks in the vibe in his bright red shirt.
While I'll quickly summarize some of the IGDA's activities (along with nice pictures), full reporting on events like the Academic Summit will follow at a later date. In complement, these other sites have compiled a great amount of GDC coverage:
- Gamasutra.com: GDC 2002 Coverage
- GameDev.Net: Inside the 2002 Game Developers Conference
- GameSpy: Game Developers Conference 2002
- Joystick101: GDC 2002 Coverage
The IGDA Academic Summit
For the first time ever, the IGDA brought together pioneering academics and leading developers to discuss research relations, curriculum development and overall collaboration between the academic and development worlds. The Summit got underway on the first day of GDC with about 140 attendees. This first morning was a bit slow going as everyone drank their coffee and warmed up...
The first day of the Academic Summit was dedicated to the research relations and collaboration side of things. There was a panel to discuss the realities the two sides deal with, followed by a panel to discuss how we can deal with these realities and build bridges. Several case studies of successful collaborations provided inspiration that it can be done. The first day closed with a lecture from Alias|Wavefront chief scientist Bill Buxton. Wow! It was a well thought out and entertaining speech on the ecology of our two worlds and how we can and should work together.
The second day of the Summit was focused on curriculum. Warren Spector (ION Storm Austin) and Henry Jenkins (MIT) kicked things off with a brief discussion on why education is both important to the growth of the industry and to our overall understanding of the medium. Then, the audience heard case studies from a half-dozen schools that are already teaching or studying games. The afternoon was dedicated to a presentation of the Education Committee's curriculum framework proposal and a moderated feedback session. The day closed with three IGDA GDC Scholarship recipients giving short speeches on why this is all so important to them, as students. Hearing from the students was a nice way to cap it all off!
Andi Smithers (The Collective) and Mark DeLoura (Sony) caffeinate themselves before their opening panel.
Jason Della Rocca (IGDA) chats with Henry Jenkins, Alex Chisholm and Kurt Squire (all from MIT) before the first day of the Academic Summit gets underway.
Matt Ford (Microsoft Games Group) and Celia Pearce (UC Irvine) give the opening address on the state of industry-academia relations.
...and the ~140 attendees listen attentively.
...with the exception of Doug Church (ION Storm Austin), who is furiously collating feedback on the curriculum framework.
Robin Hunicke (Northwestern University) and Eric Zimmerman (gameLab) misbehaving at the back of the class...
Graeme Devine (id Software) presents his case study on how id successfully collaborated with an AI researcher for Quake 3.
Marc Prensky (game2train.com) leads the panel on building bridges between academia and industry. On the panel, Gino Yu (Hong Kong Polytechnic (behind the podium)), Randy Hinrichs (Microsoft Research), Will Wright (Maxis), John Laird (University of Michigan), Simon Redmon (Liverpool John Moores University) and John Buchanon (Electronic Arts Canada).
Randy Hinrichs (Microsoft Research) and Will Wright (Maxis) field questions after the panel.
IGDA GDC Student Scholarship recipient Cynthia Poremba (Technical University of British Columbia) addresses the audience to close off the second day of the Summit.
Education Committee co-chair, Warren Spector (ION Storm Austin) is pleased with the results of the IGDA's first Academic Summit.
Game Developers Choice Awards
The 2nd Annual Game Developers Choice Awards was a blast! Building on the success of last year's event, the same heartfeltness and sincerity was abound - I had only wished more of the recipients made longer acceptance speeches than just "thanks!"... Oh well. Everything ran nice and smooth, and developers were out in less than an hour and a half. Check the Awards web site for the full list of recipients.
Quiet on the set: Backstage during the Awards rehearsal.
Industry Bigwigs: Phil Harrison (Sony Europe) and Dave Perry (Shiny) measure up in the greenroom.
Dave Perry (Shiny) and Niel Young (EA) chill out in the greenroom.
Will Wright (Maxis) and Mark Cerny (Cerny Games) go over their lines...
Rob Huebner (Nihilistic), Dan Huebner (Gamasutra), Jennifer Olsen (Game Developer magazine) and Julian Eggebrecht (Factor 5) snacking in the greenroom.
The IGF presentation, by Alex Dunne (Gamasutra), preceeded the main event...
Jennifer Pahlka (Gama Network) and Graeme Devine (id Software) gave the welcome speech to kick things off.
Yuji Naka (SEGA), accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award...
...and is quite pleased!
Rockstar and DMA celebrate after picking up three awards, including Game of the Year for Grand Theft Auto III.
Ico development team members Kenji Kaido and Fumito Ueda, with their translator/photographer. Ico also picked up three awards, including Excellence in Visual Arts.
The crew from Rookie Studio Award recipient, Bohemia Interactive Studio, on hand all the way from the Czech Republic.
Conference Sessions & Expo
As always, there are simply too many interesting lectures/sessions to go to at any given moment! Overall, the quality of speakers and sessions was strong and diverse. The IGDA's track went very well, and dealt with some issues not normally seen in the other GDC tracks (eg, violence, women in game development, minorities, etc). The IGDA also introduced a new format this year, called a "group gathering". Group gatherings are a chance for like minded developers to get together for open discussion and networking. The IGDA's Annual Meeting was also well attended and generated a ton of good feedback.
The expo floor was noticeably smaller, although highly trafficked. This is understandable given the past year of consolidation and economic challenges. Also, there were almost no booth babes (which never seemed right for a developer conference). The IGDA's booth was not actually on the show floor. Rather, we were positioned in the very busy upper lobby! Things were made even busier as developers came to play our in-booth game, Leviathan, developed by gameLab.
A shot of the expo floor.
The IGDA Annual Meeting in full swing.
(Most) of the IGDA board on hand for the Annual Meeting: Alex Jarett, Jason Della Rocca, Rob Huebner, Warren Spector, Graeme Devine and Julian Eggebrecht.
Liz Wakefield in command of the IGDA's booth.
The gameLab crew - Nick Fortugno, Frank Lantz & Eric Zimmerman - pose in front of the Leviathan game board.
Dustin Clingman (Full Sail), Alex Garden (Relic) and Will Wright (Maxis) make moves for the Green team (which eventually came second to the winning Yellow team
Daniel Greenberg leads the discussion in the violence roundtable, collectively we demonstrate how much we really care...
Women of the industry circle up for the women's group gathering at the IGDA booth.
While less abundant than in past years, the party atmosphere was still alive and kicking. The Xbox party was well attended, the Suite Nights parties were crowd pleasers as always and the Fairmont lobby bar always packed. As much as we are all at GDC to learn, share knowledge and do business, it is just nice to hang with your friends.
Karaoke action at the Gama Network suite.
Michiel Ouwehand, JanBart and Doug from Amsterdam-based Lost Boys Games are outside party hot spot, the Agenda.
Mike Burrows and Denise (Microsoft) chat up Dave Weinstein (Red Storm) at the lobby bar of the Fairmont.
Mark Rein (Epic Games) and Ted Hase (Microsoft) chill in the lobby as well.
Mike Parsons (Nihilistic), Brandon Moro (Nihilistic), Thomas Engel (Factor 5), Rob Huebner (Nihilistic) and Holger Schmidt (Factor 5) just hanging out and having a good time.
...can't wait for next year!
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