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The GDC Chronicles: A Report from the Second GDC

[In the latest update in his 'GDC Chronicles' articles ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott analyzes the take-aways from a report on 1988's second ever Computer Game Developers Conference.]

If you want to impress your colleagues with your old-school GDC knowledge, be sure to work in how the 25th GDC will not be the 25th year of GDC.

It worked like this. When the first GDC was organized, it was held at Chris Crawford's home in 1988. It was such a wild success, that a second GDC was put together and held at a hotel in the same year, with a panel/session format that has held to the present day. I wasn't there, but thanks to contributed items, I can have an idea of what went on.

Eric Goldberg wrote an article for the Journal of Computer Game Design, Crawford's journal related to games and game-making, describing in overview what went on GDC #2 (then called CGDC). Here's scanned images (with permission) from the Journal:


You can view the article as a pdf file (4.3mb) or browse the images on the GDC Flickr stream. You can also click on individual thumbnails to get an idea of the article's writing.

The article is effusive in tone, happy that the whole event came off with few hitches and pleased at the amount of support shown by the 150+ attendees on the need for a conference focused on game design and issues related specifically to designers.

The keynote was the legendary Dani Bunten, creator of M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold, who gave this advice: Start a family, raise children. Grow as a person and learn from your family what people want from games and how games can best serve the needs of adults and children. Bunten, ultimately, wanted to say that being a nerd or a geek was nothing to be ashamed of, and the assembled attendees could feel pride in their accomplishments and talents.

GDC 2011 Reveals Major Roster Of Full-Day Tutorials

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have revealed a packed full-day tutorial line-up -- including notables from Epic, Blizzard, and Valve -- for the 25th edition of the industry's leading event for game creators.

With the overall session list for the event starting to fill out, organizers are taking the opportunity to reveal the full-day tutorials available to attendees during the GDC 2011 registration process.

These lower-capacity, first-come first-served tutorials will once again be held alongside the GDC Summits on the first two days of the San Francisco-based event, Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st.

They will be open to those with a Summits & Tutorials or All-Access Pass, and interested parties can select their preference during the process of registration.

Newly announced GDC 2011 tutorials of particular note include the following:

- A special one-day 'Producer Boot Camp' is being assembled by key GDC Advisory Board members including Laura Fryer, VP and General Manager of WB Games Seattle; Epic Games executive producer Rod Fergusson and Media Molecule's Siobhan Reddy (LittleBigPlanet franchise).

The trio will assemble a full day tutorial -- including themselves and other yet to be announced speakers -- that "focuses on some of the key skills required by producers, both new to the role and seasoned veterans, to be successful in this challenging industry."

GDC China 2011 Adds Marvel, CCP, Hello Games Lectures

GDC China organizers have debuted a near-complete schedule for the December 5th-7th Shanghai event, including a packed main conference and comprehensive Summits on social, mobile and indie games.

Now in its third year, Game Developers Conference China offers "valuable and timely insight into the world of game development in China for an audience of both local and international developers", according to its organizers.

Overall, the December 5th-7th event provides a forum for local and international developers to explore business opportunities, expand their reach to a unique market, and discover the on-going trends emerging in this region.

With only a few lectures left to reveal for the event, organizers are summing up the agenda as follows:

- The Global Game Development/Outsourcing track has added a talk by Concept Art House's James Zhang, discussing "case studies and analysis of successful IP integration and cross platform development", joining major talks by notables from Activision, Intel, BioWare, Volition, and Slant Six.

- In addition, the Online Game Development track has just added 'Bringing Disney's Marvel Super Hero Squad to Online Gamers' from The Amazing Society's Jason Robar, augmenting a host of valuable Asian speakers from companies including NetEase, Joyport, Kingsoft and XPEC, plus CCP on EVE Online, Riot Games on League Of Legends and Bigpoint on European online game success.

- The Indie Games Summit at GDC China includes a newly announced lecture from Joe Danger creator Hello Games' Grant Duncan on successful development and marketing tactics -- as well as lectures from Andy Schatz (Monaco), Erin Robinson (Puzzle Bots), an Osmos postmortem, and Chinese indie lectures from Coconut Island Studio and

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: The Sound of Adventure

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival mining ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott presents newly unearthed audio of a 1998 Game Developers Conference lecture led by Steve Meretzky.]

Besides the comprehensive pile of material from Game Developers Conference organizers itself, attendees have been sending in photos, stories, and home movies of their times at various conferences throughout the years. Sadly, nobody is has yet mailed in any console prototypes or cardboard standups, but I'm patient. I'll wait.

Meanwhile, there's this massive pile of tapes, both audio and video, that need some digitizing. I've started with the audio tapes, recordings of sessions and symposiums at GDCs past. Pretty much all I have are recorded professionally, by companies hired to capture the event, and therefore recorded off the mixing board. Eventually, GDC moves away from audio tapes (actual tapes) and shifts over to CD-ROMs with recordings on them, and of course video.

I've always had a soft spot for adventure games, so I thought our first digitized exhibit on this 'GDC 25' journey would be Tape #109 from the 1998 Game Developers Conference, held in Long Beach, California from May 4th-8th. The title of this tape is 'Are Adventure Games Dead?', hosted by Steve Meretzky, and it's now available to listen to on GDC Vault.

Meretzky, now at social game giant Playdom, probably needs no introduction for most of you, but if so, by 1998 he was already recognized as a giant in the field of game design, having made fifteen games for companies such as Infocom, Legend Entertainment, and Boffo.

Many of these were adventure games, of both the text and graphics variety, and in this hour-long seminar (which he calls "a roundtable but with a lot more people"), he presents his thoughts on the state of adventure gaming in the late '90s, and then invites audience members to comment and questions.

While I think the whole tape is worth listening to, I'll just mention some highlights. After a short introduction about how the seminar will go, Meretzky shows the audience (unfortunately, not in a way we can know what was shown) the sales of 18 recent adventure games (1996-1998). The list is dominated at the top by Myst and Riven, with other games' sales leaving Meretzky "shocked" at how low they are.

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Audio Award Jury

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are pleased to announce the jury panel that will determine the finalists and winner of its Excellence in Audio award, a category which seeks to highlight the best musical & sound innovation, quality, and impressiveness in independent gaming.

Prior finalists and winners of the IGF Excellence in Audio award, which will be given out at Game Developers Conference 2011 next March, earned recognition for games that took an entirely new and unique to approach to sound in games or otherwise excelled at their craft.

These have included Queasy Games' abstract acoustic guitar shooter and 2007 award winner Everyday Shooter, 2008 finalist guitar-controller platformer Fret Nice, 2009's ultra-stylized finalist PixelJunk Eden from Q-Games and Osaka musician/DJ Baiyon, and the atmospheric 2010 award winning Closure (pictured).

This year, the jury will receive recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners, finalists and indie game notables including Ron Carmel, Andy Schatz, Ramiro Corbetta, Kellee Santiago, and Olivier Lejade) as they consider the merits of each of the five finalists and eventual award winner.

The 2011 IGF Excellence in Audio award jury consists of the following:

- Danny Baranowsky (Founder of dB soundworks and musician behind games like Canabalt & 2010 Excellence in Audio finalist Super Meat Boy.)
- Vincent Diamante (Composer and sound designer behind PS3 indie hit Flower, audio & game design teacher at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.)
- Jordan Fehr (Sound designer/editor/mixer with credits on Super Meat Boy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, SteamBirds, Realm of the Mad God, & Spewer.)
- Dylan Fitterer (Creator of music-puzzle racer and 2008 IGF Excellence in Audio winner Audiosurf.)
- David Lloyd & Larry Oji (Respectively, musician and founder of game music site OverClocked ReMix; OCR head and soundtrack director on Capcom's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.)
- Matt Piersall (Founder of GL33K, the indie audio studio behind games like Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, Epic Mickey & Donkey Kong Country Returns.)
- Emily Ridgway (Music director and audio designer on games like BioShock, Brutal Legend & Costume Quest.)
- William Stallwood & Dain Saint (Respectively, creative director & technical director of Cipher Prime Studios, creator of ambient music puzzler Auditorium.)
- Rich Vreeland (Composer, sound designer, netlabel curator, and chiptune musician performing as Disasterpeace.)
- Josh Whelchel (Independent composer behind The Spirit Engine 2 & Bonesaw: The Game and works for UbiSoft, MTV and Zynga.)

GDC Vault Adds Free Game Narrative, 3D Stereoscopic-Themed GDC Online Videos

The GDC Vault service has debuted new Summit-related video talks from October's GDC Online event in Austin, Texas, including a Game Narrative Summit talk from comic and video game writer Antony Johnston, as well as a 3D Stereoscopic Game Summit talk on the history and future of 3D in games.

Following the successful developer and business event that ran in Texas early last month, organizers of the Game Developers Conference series of events are making specially recorded versions of the talks available for free -- while also archiving all of the GDC Online content in video form for future use.

This process started in October with the debut of almost 90 recordings for GDC All-Access Pass holders and other subscribers, plus Brian Reynolds' keynote on lessons from Zynga's Frontierville, and Richard Bartle's acclaimed talk on the history of the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD).

Alongside other free content from GDC Online presenters, the two freshly added free GDC Online video lectures are:

- Experienced comics writer Antony Johnston (Daredevil, Wolverine, Wasteland), who also has experience writing games for EA and Sega, discussed how games can learn from comics in terms of writing and narrative in 'From Comics To Consoles'.

Along the way, British native Johnston, who was well-rated by Summit attendees for his wit and insight, focused on "the similarities and differences between comics and games, the effect of transmedia on both media, and what games writers can learn from studying -- and writing -- comics."

- In addition, Neil Schneider, executive director of The S-3D Gaming Alliance, presented 'The Past, Present And Future Of 3D Gaming' at the 3D Stereoscopic Game Summit, explaining how modern stereoscopic 3D gaming -- perhaps about to flourish, thanks to console and Nintendo 3DS advancements -- came to be.

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: The Inbox and the Starting Line

[In a new series of posts, official GDC historian Jason Scott will be presenting video, audio, photos and attendee recollections from the last twenty-four iterations of CGDC and the Game Developers Conference event, ahead of GDC 25 in San Francisco next February.]

Hello, my name is Jason Scott, and this is my inbox.

Jason's Tape Inbox

What you see here is the first of what I hope will be hundreds of tapes, documents and artifacts related to the nearly quarter-century history of the Game Developer's Conference.

A short while ago, I agreed to be GDC's official historian and archivist to help celebrate the 25th conference by digitizing as many records of past events as I can. A short time after agreeing to this task, huge piles of boxes arrived on my front porch. The digitization has begun!

GDC Item Catalog

In a twice-weekly posting leading up to the 2011 GDC, I'll be bringing you highlights and discoveries from this process, and posting them for you at the GDC Vault to enjoy and share.

2010 GDC China Adds Notable Chinese Speakers To Packed Roster

GDC China organizers have announced a host of new Chinese speakers, including NetEase, 6waves, Joyport and Ubisoft Chengdu notables, alongside a multitude of Western talks for next month's leading Shanghai-based event.

With the schedule for the event filling up with both notable Western and Chinese speakers, organizers are taking the opportunity to highlight some of the higher-profile Chinese speakers recently added to the program for the event.

Some of the newly added talks, which will be simultaneously translated between Chinese and English languages, as will all of the event's lectures, are as follows:

- In 'Establishing a New International Development Studio, Richard Tsao of Ubisoft Chengdu (Scott Pilgrim) discusses how "the key to creating an international development studio is hiring the right kind of people, providing training, and placing them in an appropriate work culture bubble that fosters global game development values."

With examples from the major Ubisoft studio, "attendees in this talk will learn what are the global game development values that are necessary in any studio."

- The Social Network summit sees Arthur Chow, COO of 6waves, discussing 'The Global Phenomenon of Social Games: How to Monetize the Global Audience'. As the description notes, "within two short years, 6waves has [assembled] a network of over 50 million monthly active users", and Chow will look at how "distribution, localization and monetization" helps 6waves "to maximize the significant opportunities in the increasingly competitive Facebook market."

- Bo Chen, CEO of Joyport Technology, is giving a talk called 'Designing Successful Strategy Webgame - How We Did That with Kingory', offering introduction to the browser-based game industry's background and the success of Kingory products by discussing his company's decision making process, product design, team building approaches, and the "successful and unending efforts to improve user experience."

2011 Independent Games Festival Debuts Record Student Entry Numbers

The organizers of the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2011's Student Competition, following its submission deadline this week.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in more than 280 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the most prestigious universities and games programs from around the world.

While 2010's content saw an impressive 193 entries, this year sees that number increase another 47% to 283 total games, making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

Together with the record Main Competition entries, this year's IGF has taken in roughly 650 total entries -- the largest number in the festival's history across the Main and Student competitions.

This year's Student Competition includes a number of entries from students tackling intimate personal issues through the medium of games, including Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab's Elude, a game which mirrors "the rising tide of depression, and the search for a path to happiness".

Also in this vein is the University of Portsmouth team's self-reflective portrait of a single man in Dinner Date, which looks at "his desires and doubts to reflections on his friends and his place in the world" as he waits alone for a would-be romantic evening.

2010 Independent Games Festival China Announces Finalists

Organizers of the second annual Independent Games Festival China have revealed finalists for both the Main and Student competitions, including over 10 stand-out indie games from across Asia.

High-quality submissions for the second iteration of the event -- a newly formed sister competition to the main yearly Independent Games Festival in San Francisco -- were received from multiple Chinese provinces, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Iran, India and beyond.

Finalists were chosen by a panel of distinguished local judges, including representatives from Shanda Games, Tencent, IGDA Shanghai, TipCat Interactive and more.

IGF China finalists are invited to Shanghai for the Game Developers Conference China event from December 5th to 7th, where they will be showing their games at a special Pavilion on the Expo Floor, open to all GDC China attendees.

In addition, finalists are eligible to win up to RMB61,000 ($9,100) in cash prizes, as well as specially created awards and All Access Passes to GDC San Francisco 2011 worth thousands of dollars.

The Main Competition finalists for the 2010 Independent Games Festival China are:

Sugar Cube (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Hazard: The Journey Of Life (Alexander Bruce, Australia)
Train Conductor 2 (The Voxel Agents, Australia)
Cut & Paste (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Skillz: The DJ Game (Playpen Studios, Hong Kong)
ButaVX: Justice Fighter (Nekomura Games, Singapore)
Crossout (Coconut Island Studio, China)

The Student Competition finalists for this year's IGF China event are as follows:

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Nuovo Award Jury

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are announcing the distinguished jury panel that will determine the eight finalists and overall winner of its Nuovo Award.

This special award, part of the IGF, which takes place at Game Developers Conference 2011 next February, is dedicated to honoring abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which "advances the medium and the way we think about games."

Now in its third year, the Nuovo Award allows more esoteric 'art games' from among the almost 400 IGF entries to compete on their own terms alongside longer-form indie titles, and has been newly expanded to include eight finalists.

The Nuovo has previously been awarded to Jason Rohrer's abstract multiplayer title Between and to Tuning [YouTube link] -- the perception-warping platform puzzler from Swedish indie Cactus.

This year's Nuovo Award jury has been selected to represent a diverse body of developers both independent and mainstream, academics, art world notables, and -- in general -- some of our industry's top thinkers on the future of art and the video game medium.

The jury will receive game recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners and finalists including Petri Purho, Kyle Gabler, Jakub Dvorsky, Tyler Glaiel, and Dylan Fitterer).

The 2011 IGF Nuovo jury consists of the following:

GDC Celebrates 25th Conference With Official History Outreach

The organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference are announcing a call for written memories, photos and videos from the past twenty-four iterations of the Game Developers Conference.

The public call comes as the event approaches 'GDC 25' in February 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and organizers plan an unprecedented digitization push from its own archives, utilizing an official GDC historian.

With almost a quarter-century at the forefront of the art and business of game creation, the first ever GDC (at that time the Computer Game Developers Conference) took place all the way back in 1988.

There were two events in the show's inaugural year, and a yearly conference going forward, growing to over 18,000 attendees and encompassing events like the Game Developers Choice Awards and the Independent Games Festival.

Along the way, GDC has seen keynotes and signature lectures from Shigeru Miyamoto, event founder Chris Crawford, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, design legends like Sid Meier, futurist Ray Kurzweil, and a host of others - and inspired tens of thousands of game creators to take their skills and inspiration to the next level.

To celebrate 'GDC 25', the conference organizers have appointed an official historian for the show in the form of noted technology archivist Jason Scott, known for his digital archive and his history of preserving important digital artifacts.

2010 GDC China Adds Happy Farm, Bigpoint, League Of Legends Talks

This December's Game Developers Conference China is debuting further new Chinese and Western speakers for its December 5th-7th Shanghai event, including major talks from Happy Farm's creators, Riot Games (League Of Legends) and German browser game giant Bigpoint.

These announcements, with all talks simultaneously translated between English and Chinese languages, add to multiple high-profile speakers already confirmed for the event. GDC China is run by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website, and takes place at the Shanghai International Convention Center.

Some of the the newly announced speakers include the following:

- In 'League Of Legends Postmortem: One Year Later', Riot Games president Marc Merrill will look back at the last year of live operation on the popular multiplayer online battle-arena title, recently the winner of multiple awards at the Game Developers Choice Online Awards in Austin.

Merrill will discuss "lessons learned and some key factors for developing, launching and supporting a core game that is operated as a live service", including surprises and challenges the team faced, spanning strategies to optimize the live feedback loop, key roles and live team structure.

- Presenting 'Philosophies and Principles of Creating Social Games for Everyone' is Shaofei Gao, CEO and co-founder of Five Minutes Inc., the noted social game developer and maker of Happy Farm (pictured), which launched in 2008 in Asia -- predating Zynga's famous Western social network game hit FarmVille.

GDC Vault Adds Free FrontierVille, Bartle Videos, Nearly 90 Subscriber Talks

The GDC Vault service has debuted both free and subscriber-only videos from October's GDC Online event in Austin, Texas. Free-to-watch talks debuting include Brian Reynolds' keynote on lessons from Zynga's Frontierville, and Richard Bartle's acclaimed talk on the history of the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD).

Following the successful developer and business event that ran in Texas earlier this month, organizers of the Game Developers Conference series of events are making specially recorded versions of the talks available -- while also archiving all of the GDC Online content in video form for future use.

These new free talks debut alongside an update making available nearly 90 lecture videos from GDC Online for subscribers at the GDC Vault website. The site features video technology that allows users to simultaneously view a presenter's slides alongside video and audio of their presentation.

Alongside free slides from GDC Online presenters, the two new free GDC Online video lectures are:

- In 'Bears and Snakes! The Wild Frontier of Social Game Design', Zynga's chief game designer Brian Reynolds -- formerly at Firaxis and Big Huge Games and notable for his work on titles like Civilization II -- discussed the launch of Zynga's game FrontierVille and work around melding social and traditional game design that went into it.

Reynolds' introduction notes of the lecture: "We'll look at key
features such as missions, 'doobers', and varmints and explore how they
take traditional social game models and make them more entertaining.
Well also look at the ways we took traditional social game interactions
and made them more social" for the title, which currently has over 30
million monthly unique users.

- Also featured in video form is the acclaimed lecture 'MUD: Messrs Bartle and Trubshaw's Astonishing Contrivance'
from Multi-User Dungeon co-creator Richard Bartle, who was voted the
first Online Game Legend during the debut Game Developers Choice Online
Awards at the Austin show -- a show that is also available for viewing at GDC Vault.

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Record Main Competition Entrants

The organizers of the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2011's Main Competition, following its submission deadline this week.

In total, this year's Main Competition, which will see finalists showcased and winners announced at GDC 2011 in San Francisco next March, took in just under 400 game entries -- many of them new titles from leading indie developers -- across all platforms.

This includes 150 entries for mobile hardware like the iPhone, iPad, DS, PSP and Android devices, with all mobile entries now eligible for all IGF 2011 prizes, including a unique Best Mobile Game award.

In-depth information and entrant-provided screenshots and videos on each of the IGF Main Competition entries are now available on, a feature unique to the contest.

This total entry tally for the event comprises almost 30 percent more games than last year's record 306 Main Competition entries. This is itself a 35 percent rise over the previous year -- emphasizing the continued popularity and importance of both independent games and the IGF itself.

Connecting the Global Game Development Community