Recently I had the great fortune to attend the annual Game Developers Conference, or GDC, in San Francisco. It was an incredible experience, and really helpful to be so embedded in the industry perspective, as opposed to my usual academic ones. I got to meet artists, programmers, animators, producers, and a long list of job titles that I struggled to comprehend.
Not that my academic side was lonely; there were plenty of heavy-hitters of game thinking from my world to meet and greet, including a few that set my fangirl eyelashes fluttering, like Ian Bogost, Constance Steinkhuler, and Raph Koster.
What going to an industry conference/convention like this one reminds me of is how much this stuff is incredibly big business. The 25.1 billion (in 2010) the U.S. game industry pulls in annually these days (compare that to the film industry’s ~$10 billion) reminds us all that this isn’t some little side market for geeks and kids. No, these folks are big-time media movers and shakers.
What really struck me about the GDC set of folks, though, especially after wandering the Expo hall and the recruiting booths, is how many, many independent developers there seem to be in games. Movies have famously been more and more run by conglomerates – in no small part because of how expensive each profitable film costs to make – and, like TV and newspapers and magazines, pretty much all the stuff we see and read and listen to other than games are run by a pretty small group of mega-corporations.
That’s not to say big game developers – or the “AAA titles” – are equal with the little folks, but hey. One of the most popular games out there right now, DragonVale, was created by our very own local Backflip Studios here in Denver!
I love my job.