A man in a white and blue windbreaker sprints across the sidewalk ten feet in front of me. Chasing closely behind him is another man wearing navy, with a silver badge reflecting in the sun that reads SECURITY. The man in the Windbreaker is faster, but he falters, losing his balance when stepping down a curb. He catches himself with his other leg, but Silver Badge is gaining on him. In one movement, Windbreaker spins on his heel and hurls a glass Snapple bottle towards Silver Badge. The bottle misses its ducking target, instead smashing into pieces on the large Ross window. Silver Badge stops and calls out: “Ha! Well now nobody gets it!” Windbreaker continues across the street between honking traffic, shouting: “I’ll be back next Tuesdee, you’ll see! YOU’LL FUCKING SEE ME!” People turn to look at the scene, but not one stops walking, and within seconds everyone has their faces firmly back in their phones.

This is the San Francisco rarely advertised to outsiders, but notorious to locals. There are swaths of the city — SoMa, Tenderloin, sections of Mission — where petty crime, drugs, and poverty are routine. It’s not all California sunshine, much as even I may have sold it that way.

The Snapple glass crunches under my feet as I avoid stepping on the shit (probably human?) on the sidewalk beside it. I keep walking too. Is this who I am as a game developer?, essentially summarizes my thoughts. Do I seem great to outsiders, but with many problems to insiders? I haven’t released a game, nobody’s paying me, am I just a bum? That self-doubt might seem strange, but I assure you it’s genuine. If even the best creatives can have imposter syndrome, surely I can be forgiven my own. I take a deep breath and quicken my pace towards The Moscone Center. My first GDC.

GDC — the Game Developers Conference — is an annual event in San Francisco where game creators, publishers, and hardware makers get together to show their wares, network within the industry, and get properly hammered. Though I’d lived in San Francisco for years as a professional dev, GDC is expensive, and at the time I didn’t think it was worth the price of entry. This year, though, I’d been away for long enough to bite the bullet and buy a ticket. My goals were: to describe my game to enough people to finalize its pitch, to talk to marketing and PR experts for launch advice, and to get properly hammered. I achieved all three.

But there was something more broad and more vital than all of that. Maybe it happened while pitching my game to the hundredth person, or talking to that one other marketer, or downing my last Mai Tai with ex-coworkers. Maybe it was a combination of all of those. But this GDC renewed my confidence.

You know something, people like my game idea. I like my idea! 

There are others who used to AAA and now indie — chatting with them was both enlightening and relieving. They made it, I’ll make it too!

And all the others — the students, the current AAA devs, the marketers, the publishers — they all think I’m a badass! I left my cushy job and struck out to push our industry forward. That’s fucking cool!

I’m not some imposter pretending that I can make games. I know what I’m doing. Sometimes, working on my own, I can forget that. This GDC made me realize: I belong and I’m a leader.

Now let’s make something I’m proud of!


Background image by GDC Staff

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