[In this article, first published in Game Developer magazine's 2011 Game Career Guide issue, we provide a roundup of the key events and organizations to know when breaking into game development.]
Video game events and trade shows are an excellent resource for learning about the industry and making connections with professional developers. Here are a few events you should know.
Game Developers Conference
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), which brings together developers from all walks of life. You've got indies, social game devs, and traditional developers rubbing shoulders with students and game development hopefuls. GDC features lectures, summits, workshops, and more, all designed to make you better at your job, or to help you get one. Of particular interest for students is the Career Seminar, in which industry luminaries give lectures to aspiring game developers. This popular event continues to grow,
and supports the show's Game Career Pavilion, where attendees can meet face-to-face with some of the industry's top studios, and hand out a few resumes. GDC also hosts the annual Independent Games Festival, which showcases some of the finest games in the indie space. It has a special Student Showcase, which displays 10 specially chosen student projects and puts them on display in front of thousands of attendees (and potential publishers). (GDC is owned and operated by UBM TechWeb, which also owns Game Developer magazine, and will next take place in 2012 in San Francisco.)
Photo courtesy of Game Developers Conference
GDC Online is similar to GDC, but (as you may have guessed!) has more of an online focus, and is located in Austin, Texas, a hub of game development in the southern U.S. But that's not all the show covers-there's everything from mobile and social titles to free-to-play and subscription-based MMOs, not to mention offline game development. There's a Career Seminar here, too! The next GDC Online will be held October 10-13, 2011 in Austin, Texas.
GDC Europe follows the structure of the San Francisco-based GDC, but turns its gaze toward European developers and regional market trends. The show takes place in conjunction with the consumer-focused trade show gamescom, and has cheaper student passes that allow access to all content, and will take place in Cologne, Germany from August 15-17, 2011.
GDC China, which will be held November 12-14, 2011 in Shanghai, hosts talks on business and management, game design, production, programming, and visual arts. The show also hosts its own IGF competition, much like the primary GDC, and is open to Oceania as well as all Asian countries.
Be sure to book some extra vacation time after GDC Europe, because Cologne, Germany will be hosting gamescom immediately after the developer focused event on August 17-21, 2011. Gamescom is Europe's largest trade fair for games, and the show invites the public and industry professionals to check out upcoming titles and interact with the developers behind them.
The annual Develop Conference, held in Brighton, UK, hosts talks on production, coding, audio, design, art, and business. The show also features the Evolve Conference, which focuses on the emergence of new platforms, technologies, and markets. The 2012 Develop Conference will take place in the summer.