My first GDC!

This March marked the first time I attended and spoke at my first Game Developers Conference! It was a hectic and enriching trip, but I’m so glad to have done it. I’m not sure I want to speak again because it was STRESSFUL. But overall, it was a good time.

I took the trip out to San Francisco on Monday, March 20th. That also happened to be the date of my talk. I spoke with the organizers and asked that my talk be as late in the day as possible since I knew I’d be flying in the day of the Community Summit track of talks. I was grateful that they put my talk at 5:30 PM because that would give me more time to rehearse and get a lay of the land before I had to speak. Or so I thought. My plane got delayed by almost 2 hours and at one point I was thinking “I’m lucky if I can get to my talk on time.”

By the time I landed, checked in to my hotel, and made it to Moscone, I had missed my rehearsal room’s booking. In hindsight though, I think not practicing helped because my nerves couldn’t get to me. I had to trust I knew the content—which I did! I just had to have a bit more faith.

I ended up spending a bit of time with two of my friends who were also speaking at the conference this year until 5 PM and then headed to the room I was supposed to speak at. Someone was already outside the room waiting for my talk, so I had a chat with them for the next 10 minutes or so. It was reassuring that folks actually wanted to show up and listen to me! One of my other friends showed up at around 5:20 PM to my room too and we ended up catching up until I had to go on stage. All of this helped me keep my mind off my talk and didn’t leave me much time to be nervous, so shoutout to all the folks who ended up occupying my time!

My talk was only 30 minutes, but trying to remember half an hour’s worth of content was a challenge. It went the way I wanted it to I think, and I’m proud of the work I put into it. I hope it was valuable to those who attended! I ended up taking questions to the overflow area outside the room because questions were causing us to run overtime. I spent an extra hour in the overflow to answer folks’ questions. It became a lovely roundtable chat with peers in the game development community who wanted to know more about my processes and topic. If you want to check out my talk, it’ll be in the GDC vault in the future! My speaker page is here.

The rest of my GDC days were filled with showing up to talks for folks I wanted to support, as well as business meetings with various partners in between. I also spent a good amount of time roaming the expo floor. There were so many cool companies doing neat things and tons of swag. I’m always down for good swag. I will say that Discord takes the cake for the best swag at the conference though.

I haven’t done multi-day conferences or events for a good while since the pandemic’s start. On Wednesday, I was exhausted from just all the walking, commuting, and face-to-face interactions. I ended up sleeping in and ordering an Uber Eats breakfast to the hotel. I had all these grand plans of trying out different breakfast joints, but I physically was drained. I didn’t realize what a big toll this would take on me.

Some other tidbits from the trip I’d like to remember includes:

  • Chinatown visit
    My last San Francisco trip was very short so I didn’t get to revisit Chinatown even though it was on my list. I had such fond memories of a family vacation I took back in 2014 and when I had a work trip in 2019, I had wanted to go back. This time however, I managed to plan a dinner in Chinatown and it was a great nostalgia hit.
  • Dinner at House of Prime Rib!
    I initially had plans to do the Alcatraz night tour with some friends I haven’t seen since my Montreal days. However, there was a huge wind storm that caused the tours to get cancelled the day of our booked trip. We ended up managing to get a last-minute reservation at House of Prime Rib! I really wanted to visit and I was willing to try to even just get a walk in spot at the bar if needed. But we ended up getting a proper table and all went for the whole prime rib shebang!
  • Japantown dinner
    I love Japantown. It’s made up of so many nooks and crannies of cool shops and restaurants. Ended up getting conveyor belt sushi here for dinner.
  • Asian Diaspora meetup
    Two members of the Asian game dev community organized a meetup at the Yerba Buena Gardens. It was wonderful meeting other Asians helping to drive and create games for players around the world.
  • Visiting the fiance’s office
    I got to tour the Salesforce towers in San Francisco! I usually am not super into office tours, but Salesforce has the Ohana Floor which gives you a view of the entire city. So freaking cool. They also have free drinks from the various cafes inside the building and I got to tour the rooftop garden too.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf + Musée Mécanique
    I don’t care that this is probably a super touristy place. I just love the views and the neat things here! This time, I got to visit the Musée Mécanique. They have machines that are a hundred years old and operates on quarters. I highly recommend breaking a $10 bill and just spending the next hour bringing the museum to life! It’s such a special place and I hope the family that runs it continues to operate it for many more generations to enjoy.

I am a little sad that I didn’t get to eat danger dogs. These bacon wrapped hot dogs that are sold by street vendors always seem like the most delicious thing to me. I actually grabbed one during my E3 visit back in 2019 — albeit that was in LA. I had coworkers telling me to stay away so I had to sneak a dog while waiting for an Uber during a trip back to the hotel once. My fiancé also talked me out of getting them back when we visited Hollywood once. I feel the risk vs. reward for food poisoning vs. deliciousness is worth it. This time around, I was determined to get some danger dogs but upon approaching the vendors lined up against the pier, I was told they’re now $10 USD for a dog. I’m too cheap for $10 roadside hot dogs and left. But then I came back to Vancouver and realized I caught Covid and then proceeded to lose my taste. I dream of tasting a danger dog now.

I still don’t have my sense of taste back, but I am overall better from Covid (thankfully). I managed to dodge Covid for 3 years and this was my first time getting it. I guess it was the first unmasked large-scale event I attended so it probably was inevitable. But my goodness—it SUCKED. It seems I caught OG Covid. I had full body aches, fevers, loss of taste/smell, coughing, and congestion. Really hope I don’t catch it again.

When I got back to Vancouver, I was so psyched to be back with my dog. Onyx spent the whole week with our neighbors—who are awesome folks and they also have a little dog of their own. Actually Onyx got to sleep on their bed all week whereas we usually try to alternate days on the bed vs. him sleeping in his own bed. So he probably was getting a vacation of his own hanging out with his friend and getting to jump on their bed whenever he wanted! Super thankful for our neighbors though because Onyx is a reactive dog meaning it’s more difficult taking him on walks. They were so lovely about it and we even caught Onyx trying to sneak back over to their patio to see if he could go play the next day!

Now I’m formally back, no longer dying from Covid, and it’s time to let my body rest back up a bit before the next adventure. Glad to have gone to my first GDC!


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