Back from GDC Online

I spent most of this week in Austin, Texas, at GDC Online (which isn’t really online much at all, despite the title). I’d never been to Austin before, but the city welcomed me in and treated me like an old friend: it fed me well and kept me up drinking and chatting all night.

I got in late Sunday morning and wandered around town until my room was ready. That evening, I met up with a bunch of folks from the IGDA Writers SIG, plus longtime tabletop industry friends Jesse Scoble (now with Kings Isle in Austin), Thomas Reid, and Scott Haring. (It’s free to join the Writers SIG mailing list, by the way, and a great means of networking with other video game writers.) Afterward, I had dinner with the other speakers in for the Game Narrative Summit, followed by a pilgrimage to the Ginger Man.

GDCO is large enough to support several groups of people involved in video games, but the writers have been wise enough to establish the Ginger Man as the default hangout. Go wander off and have lunch and dinner where you like. Hit a few of the parties in the evenings. But wind up your night there, and you know you’re among friends.

I didn’t have any duties on Monday, so I hung out with Jesse Scoble and hit a number of the seminars, including watching Nolan Bushell (founder of Atari) give the keynote. One of the many highlights of the day was meeting many of the great people at Blizzard and attending their party later that evening.

The next day, I gave a talk called “Building a Transmedia Property.” This sandwiched me in between Geoff Long and Aaron Linde, each of whom gave stellar presentations of their own on the subject, making for a Transmedia Tuesday Triple Threat. I had forgotten the dongle to connect my laptop to the AV system in the room, but I had copied it onto a USB stick in case of disaster. Aaron kindly let me transfer it to his computer for the talk.

The downside was that when the Keynote file opened up, it had lost my custom settings, which would have shown my notes I’d written to go along with the slides. That meant I had to wing it, using the slides as my only mnemonics. I think this worked better, as it kept me from consulting notes and forced me to talk directly to the audience the entire time. Many people complimented the speech, and no one walked out, so I count it as a win.

That night, I hit the WGA West mixer and the GDCO Speakers Party, then had an excellent dinner with many new friends before hoofing it to the Ginger Man once more. Wednesday was a bit more of the same, leading up to heading out for the airport that afternoon. At one point, we had thirty-some people lined up for an impromptu lunch, but we wound up MIRVing off into smaller groups. Mine included Thomas Reid, Sheri Graner Ray, Chris Clark (of Magnificent Egos fame), Brian BlankingOnTheLastName, and Ryan Dancey.

I’d list off all the wonderful people I met, but I’m sure I’d forget more than a few of them. I do want to shout out a special thanks to the Game Narrative Summit Advisory board, including Tom Abernathy and Lev Chapelsky and especially my old pal Richard Dansky, who encouraged me to submit a talk and come out in the first place.