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My Time at GDC 2015

happy boy working at computer smiling

Where else can you meet up with tons of like-minded game developers from all over the world, other than at events like GDC?

GDC stands for Game Developer’s Conference. It’s a weeklong conference held in San Francisco that takes place in March every year, and is chock full of panels, game demos, tutorials, and tons of other fun events. For a game developer (‘dev’ for short), whether you are a seasoned vet or a student looking to enter the industry, GDC is a must-attend event. Not only are you able to find companies and developers that get you excited you about making games, but you have the chance to make an impact on others by showing off a personal project, or by simply talking to people about why you love games.

The Magic of GDC

Aside from partaking in these things throughout my 3-day stay here, I have also attended a couple of talks about women in the game industry and developing meaningful indie games. These are both hot topics that I am deeply interested in, and have the potential to completely change the way we look at video games. I came to GDC with a focus on getting some of my own questions answered, as well as gaining insight from others in these subject areas.

During a panel entitled “Curiousity, Courage and Camouflage: Revealing the Gaming Habits of Teen Girls,” Ashly Burch and Rosalind Wiseman spoke about the problems that girl gamers face while playing games, and how that contrasts with the ways boys play games. In most games, there aren’t any playable characters that are girls. When interviewing teen girls who did not identify as gamers, the girls spoke about scantily clad women in games, or girls who they couldn’t identify with because of how they were portrayed in the game. Surprisingly, girl gamers actually prefer to be able to play a character as their own gender, as opposed to boys who largely do not care if they play as either a boy or a girl. If this sounds like something you care about, then take a stand for girl gamers and develop something that speaks to them! There is a lot of empowerment to be gained from collaborating with like-minded students who want to make a difference!

To go alongside this talk, I attended a panel on game accessibility—which raised several questions about why video games do not feature options for color blind gamers, or those with physical disabilities. In this talk, the panelists conducted research over the past year taking a look at examples of good design for accessibility, as well as where accessibility is lacking in games. While platforms like Steam easily allow for gamers to find games with color blind options or subtitles, many gamers with disabilities still find themselves wanting to play games with no such filters. The panelists advised those in attendance that we shouldn’t just focus on making a game accessible, but also allowing people to find games that they can easily connect with.

Wanna make a difference?

Whether you are just learning how to develop video games through one of our game design courses, or you are looking for an industry profession, all of these issues are hugely impactful in how the growing game world is shaped. It is up to you to make a difference in how we play games—for the better! Whether you are a girl gamer looking for more representation for who you are, a deaf gamer who can’t find a game to play, or simply a developer, these issues need to be brought into the light and talked about.

What do you think? As a girl or boy gamer, are you more inclined to play games that more accurately reflect who you are? How can you take a stand to help tackle these issues? Let us know in the comments section below.

Happy Coding!