Wake County Economic Development made its annual trip out to San Francisco for the 2011 Game Developers Conference (GDC), the largest game technology-driven show held every year. This was our fourth year of involvement with the show and each year we continue to grow our presence. This year we had a fantastic team, with representation from NC State, Wake Tech, VACO, and Capstrat. In conjunction with Raleigh’s Trailblazer Studios, WCED co-hosted the first-ever NC@GDC party the Tuesday night of the conference. The event was well attended, exceeding our expectations, and kicking off the conference in great style.
The vibe of this year’s GDC was upbeat and optimistic, which was an improvement over the past two years which were marked by uncertainty about the market and generally muted. The 25thanniversary of the GDC was marked by record attendance (19,000 attendees); the crowds started big and stayed big throughout the conference. While there were a large number of attendees from North Carolina, just two companies from North Carolina, Epic Games and Insomniac Games, actually had a presence on the show floor. Regardless, the WCED booth enjoyed a steady stream of visitors from other states and countries.
In addition to talking up the region and the great things we have going on locally in the game development arena, much of our efforts were devoted to promoting the upcoming East Coast Game Conference and also the newly enacted Interactive Digital Media tax credits. Both of these were well received and we expect to draw significant traffic to this year’s ECGC. While we were out there we received word that Bungie, the creators of the venerable HALO series and based in Bellevue, WA, plan to exhibit at the ECGC which is an excellent tribute to the growing efficacy of our show.
Every GDC seems to have a different personality and feel. This year hopefully marked a return to the more optimistic and energized market that we witnessed during our earlier trips to San Francisco. It’s a great event, especially when you’re able to cover it more thoroughly and have more to talk about, which we did this year. We’re confident that the positive momentum from this year’s GDC will carry over into next month’s ECGC!