Countdown to GDC 2016: 19 essential survival tips

Countdown to GDC 2016: 19 essential survival tips

By Colin MacDonald, All 4 Games

March 11th 2016 at 11:30AM

All 4 Games' head Colin MacDonald offers advise to those flying to San Francisco next week

Whether you're headed to GDC for the first time, or you know the Moscone centre like the back of your hand, here's a few tips to make the most of the week:

Getting there and away

  • Many UK flights to San Francisco the weekend before GDC will be full of game developers, prepare to network early.
  • Travelling light? Taking the subway (BART) is the quickest way to get into town.
  • Don't worry if you're not staying near Moscone/Union Square – the city's easy to get around and has so many diverse and fascinating areas.
  • Things start winding up after lunch on Friday – don't feel the need to stay till 5pm.

Once you're there

  • Don't bother trekking to Moscone on Sunday to pick up your badge. Even with the Monday 9am crowds, it only takes a few minutes.
  • Swap out the standard sponsored lanyard with your company's own to help promote yourself.
  • Remember to turn off data roaming on your phone – US data rates in particular are horrendous.
  • If you need to Skype etc, the wi-fi always seems most reliable at the back of the West Hall.
  • Carry business cards 24/7. And a pack of throat sweets.
  • Don't make the bizdev rookie mistake of just filling your diary with any meetings – cherry pick and save time for the priority ones.
  • Need to do some work on UK time? Get up early and breakfast with fast wi-fi at Epicentre Cafe just a few blocks behind Moscone.
  • Get out of the Moscone centre for lunch – either head to the Food Court underneath nearby Westfield Mall, or grab something tasty from Whole Foods and picnic in the sun in the garden park build on top of the Moscone. 

Conference Talks

 

  • Download the GDC app before you go, and pick a few preferred talks for each time slot ahead of time, so that on the day you're just choosing between a few at a time depending on how much time you have.
  • Be wary of sponsored talks, or ones not in the West Hall.
  • Turn up early to talks and use the time to introduce yourself to someone new sitting nearby each time.
  • Sit nearer the front for less noise from the corridor and distracted attendees.
  • Don't be the awkward sod that sits on the end of an empty row forcing everyone to squeeze past.
  • Don't feel compelled to sit through a whole talk. If after 10 minutes it doesn't seem like it'd be useful, better to leave and catch a portion of a better one. 

 

Enjoy the city

  • Check out the historical arcade and pinball games at Musee Mechanique, unleish your inner science geek at the Exploratorium, or rent a bike to cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge and take a ferry back to town.