I’ve been at GDC for ten years. I was only an official CA for eight of those years, and last year was one of the two times that I wasn’t a CA. I had a whole week of scheduled events to network and to meet with industry legends as an IGDA Scholar, yet I spent every spare moment I had in the CA lounge wanting to help (even though it wasn’t permitted).
Since my introduction to the game industry ten years ago, I’ve found myself among the communities of independent developers, AI developers, serious game developers, educators, and, this year, the writers from the narrative summit. While I feel I know who I am more than I ever have before, the CA program is always where I felt like I’ve belonged regardless of who I am.
So, why do I make a good Conference Associate?
I answered that question last year, and then withdrew from that year’s CA crew. This is my tenth time thinking about why I’ve been a good CA, and why I would still be a good CA. I didn’t expect that by not being a CA (last year), I’d find my answer the question of why I’ve been a CA for nearly a decade of my life. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a PhD studying games, an indie developer, an AI researcher, or a game design teacher. By not being a CA, I realized that I’ve always been and will always be a CA whether I am wearing a florescent shirt that year or not. Whether I’m an official volunteer or not, I always find myself back in the CA lounge. I can’t imagine what GDC would be like without the CA’s.
In so many ways, I find myself among people who want to create a better world for video games every year at GDC. That’s what brings me back every year, and that’s what I think is important in a CA. GDC isn’t a conference about me or my small circle of influence. It’s a place where we help steward the future of games.
With all these data points, in various contexts, I know that my passion for games and for the developer community is why I will always a good CA– this year, next year, whether I am a student, or the keynote headliner of the conference. I will always be a good CA.
It’s amazing to spend a week with a group of people who care about this industry, and who naturally create a place where we all feel like we belong (especially with all the fighting going on with gamer culture these days).