My First GDC: Late to the Party, but Worth the Wait!

Ankita Verma

April 5, 2024

In my latest blog post, I delve into the immersive journey of my first Game Developers Conference (GDC), sharing insights and reflections from this enriching experience.

So, I finally made it to my first Game Developers Conference(GDC) this year – I know, it's about time, right?

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking – "Ankita, you live in SF, how have you not been to GDC before?"

Well, let's just say NFT LA lured me in last year (rookie move, I know!), and before that, corporate life had me in a strong chokehold. But hey, better late than never, right?

So, let me give you the lowdown on my Game, AI, and Web3 adventures at GDC!

Gaming: Where Magic Happens

Gaming isn't just another thing – it's pretty darn special! Why, you ask?

Well, gaming has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, paving the way for new tech and trends.

Gaming is at the forefront of innovation!

Think about it – Second Life was around way back in 2003, long before anyone was talking about the Metaverse. Live services, user-generated content, streaming, and microtransactions? Yeah, gaming had them first.

Even during my time at AWS, gaming led the charge with the latest and greatest tech, like personalization, anti-cheat & anti-fraud technologies, real-time anomaly detection, etc.

The next aspect that makes gaming special is its community – pure, unfiltered passion! Gamers love a good challenge, drawing inspiration from stories and art, and forming bonds that go beyond the screens.

And at GDC? Picture this: Thousands of gamers lost in their worlds, popcorn in hand, fully absorbed in their games. It was a gamer's paradise. GDC wasn't just an event – it was a celebration of everything we love about gaming!

AI in Gaming

No surprises here – AI was the talk of the town at GDC.

I had the honour of speaking at “The Future of Tech: WEB3 & AI in Gaming” panel organized by Hadera, Orbis86, and the Blockchain Gaming Alliance (BGA).

We discussed how AI is the ultimate game-changer, revolutionizing the entire gamer journey:

  • From discovery via personalized targeting and creatives
  • To landing pages tailored to each gamer
  • To refine the game based on real-time feedback,
  • And finally, keeping the playing field level with anti-cheat measures and fostering a sense of community. AI isn't just making games better – it's making them more fun, more inclusive, and more profitable!
Us at the “The Future of Tech: WEB3 & AI in Gaming” panel!

And let's not forget about user-generated content, which through LLM and AI is democratizing game development and content creation.

AI is set to play a pivotal role here, empowering creators and fueling innovation.

Blockchain, Web3 & Gaming

One hot topic that kept cropping up was the age-old battle between creators and exploiters. In today's gaming landscape, it seems like creators – the artists, programmers, and developers – are getting the short end of the stick. Blockchain has the potential to change that!

By enabling ownership within games and unlocking new monetization avenues through NFTs, blockchain is levelling the playing field. It's like a breath of fresh air, injecting new life into an industry ripe for disruption.

At GDC, the buzz around blockchain was… well, a mixed bag! Avalanche and Arbitrum had huge booths stealing the spotlight, and I had a blast checking out their latest games. But I'll admit, the Web3 booths, overall, were few and far between (<10% of the expo), and finding them was a bit like searching for buried treasure! Side events hosted by Solana, BGA, Skale, Hadera, Immutable, and others were fun and perfect for networking.

Big Web2 names like Unreal, Tencent, and Meta dominated the floor, teasing us with sneak peeks of their latest projects – and throwing in some free coffee and popcorn didn't hurt either!

Other themes I observed:

Fundraising: Fundraising is beginning to heat up, which is great for those who weathered the 22/23 winter. If you're considering this option, now is the time to start conversations.

Gaming Monetization: Multiple companies like Xsolla, BIGO, and several others focused on Game Monetization. I read somewhere on Linkedin about Eric Seufert’s "Everything is an Ad Network" and it rang in my head multiple times at GDC. In a crowded games tooling space, it felt like every service had an ad tech angle. This makes me super excited for obvious reasons 🙂

Global Flavor: I loved how global GDC was - Games from India, Brazil, Switzerland, Japan, Spain, and Pakistan…. you name it! Each country showcased its top games and projects, complete with detailed catalogues. It was a fantastic opportunity to see the latest trends and innovations from around the world and to connect with developers from different cultures. Gaming truly knows no borders!

Women of GDC: On the flip side, the representation of women, though better than a lot of other events I have been to, still looked sparse.

Uncertainty persists: Also, the overall sentiment from game dev veterans was a thin layer of optimism covering a depth of pessimism. Many are still processing layoffs and feeling uncertain about the industry's future.

Parting Thoughts: Hope in a Pixelated World

As I said goodbye to GDC, I had this beautiful realization - Web3 builders who've weathered the storms of the last few years have come together, like a band of warriors who've been through battle together. It's inspiring to see how they're always there for one another, offering support and collaboration whenever it's needed. Shoutout to my dear friends at BGA for playing a key role in nurturing this camaraderie!

There are challenges, but gamers are tough. So, to all the game dev warriors out there, keep your heads up – things are looking up!

And with that, I'm off, armed with memories of popcorn-fueled gaming marathons and AI-powered adventures.

Take care, and I’ll see you until next time 🎮✨

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