I crashed with a friend, a former Albuquerque resident himself. He drove me through the Bay Area rain and wind on Sunday morning to the San Francisco airport. The Game Developers Conference 2008 petered out Friday. Although there were still a few lectures that afternoon, most were tearing down their booths during my frantic last-minute Expo crawl.
Although the games industry is blowing up, it's still small enough that you can talk to the engineers or artists behind the project. My boss set up meetings with the teams that create the tools we use every day for our work. We got to pick the brains of a few engineers directly responsible for our toolset. These meetings were the highlight of the conference; a chance to discuss with other games people the problems we have and where we're going.
There was a lot to learn about how the industry works and who the players are. I was hoping for more nitty-gritty technical detail, but most of the lectures I attended read more like product brochures than white papers. This makes sense, given that the industry is very competitive, and games distinguish themselves, perhaps too much, by what technical magic they have.
I’m glad I went. I suppose I should have networked more aggressively, but I wasn’t looking for a new job. I’m going to try to go every year, and I'm considering the Austin Game Developers Conference in September. Maybe you’ll read about it here.