Getting ready for big events – GDC report
Game Conference Guide Insights - April 2022
Over the past two months, two major and impactful events happened; DICE in February with record-breaking attendance and GDC as predicted with a 50% decrease in number of delegates (12,000 on-site + 5,000 online). Targets were met, handshakes exchanged, weird pitches thrown, opinions were voiced, heated arguments solved with hugs and meetings to continue the conversation were booked.
Did you manage to finish your GDC follow-ups? Do you know where you will travel next? No? You are not alone.
If you have been attending events and plan to do so this year as well, spare a few minutes and help me gather details that will help us understand as a collective how we are attending events these days, how our travel habits have changed and how they will affect our choices in coming months.
The survey is anonymous, it will take 3-4 minutes to complete:
Love it or hate it, GDC was important on so many levels. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, NFT companies were present. Yes, there was a major backlash involving individuals hanging out at what supposed to be the safe haven - Yerba Buena Gardens. Yes, there were opinions calling out basically everyone and of course the Twitter exploded. Again.
After nearly 3 years GDC was my first in-person event, same as for many I met during the whole week. The moment I sat on the plane, I missed my home, my routine and the comfort of my apartment. Travelling to a big event brought up anxiety and questions started to pop up in my head. Here are my observations and experiences from attending GDC and then travelling around Canada for additional two weeks afterwards.
Big events = bigger risk of getting Covid. Requiring every single attendee to wear a mask inside the Moscone Center and show a proof of vaccination before you can pick up accreditation created an extra layer of protection that made the whole experience safer. Of course, outside of the venue, at dinners, in bars and meet-ups the measures were not followed which led to transmission of Covid. Almost everyone that I met, tested positive immediately after GDC or upon arrival home. All of them are fine and healthy. For some strange reason, and thank God, I didn’t contract the virus.
Companies are sending representatives to in-person events, not the whole team. Both in the US and Canada companies are still trying to get back to the old ways of doing business, and sometimes using bad practices to bring employees back to the office. Lifting mask mandate is still a mess, and different jurisdictions have different rules in place. For many it is too early to even think about having lunch with outsiders, others are completely switching to remote work (FTW, Bungie!), and for many my visit was the first time they shared drinks and meals in person in years. GDC showed it is possible to organise a big event with international audience, but the risk of getting sick is still very high.
Travelling to your first in-person event will raise a lot of questions about safety, protection of your and others well-being. At least during GDC, many countries required a negative test shortly before heading home or continuing the journey, and trust me, waiting for the results was like winning a lottery, especially considering how many people got Covid. Take care of yourself and be mindful about others when attending in-person events. Wear a mask, and avoid crowds as much as possible.
Interactions are weird. What should I do with my hands? Where should I look? Being weird is normal and sometimes encouraged. What I am talking about are the interactions after a long-time having conversations exclusively through our screens. The great news is, that many discussions were picked up where we have left them off in 2020 and they flew like nothing really happened. We crave social interactions, and to see old friends face to face, sharing a laugh, or cry was a healing process.
Ask before interacting. Are we doing a handshake? Or an elbow bump, head-nod? Are you sure you want to go for a hug in a super crowded bar and have a conversation there? I am not going to lie, the first few days were stressful. These are the simple rules, I followed:
· Respect private spaces of others you are meeting
· Ask before any physical contact (handshake, hug, fist bump)
· If you are not feeling safe in an environment where you have a meeting, ask to change the location, or try to arrange a meeting outdoors.
Business cards are out. At least for now. Many have changed jobs; others didn’t bother to bring them. Some don’t want to take anything from a stranger. This time, I came home with the least amount of business cards, which is fine, but it also begs the question, how to successfully track new connections and on which platform you connect. Making a note after every meeting is a must to remember the conversation.
Full halls and lobbies are not the way to go. We are not there yet. I observed super loud environments where I couldn’t hear my own thoughts, but people were pitching to each other, and had a lovely chat under the blossoming trees in the park. Crammed lobbies at W and Marriot will still be there, but I think we can do better.
Quality not quantity. Our social batteries are depleted. Back-to-back meetings might be a preferred way for some, but this is a road to burnout. From my experience, my peers and colleagues took decent time between meetings to recharge and sort out thoughts and they plan to practise this from now on.
Was it worth it?
Things have changed and they will always reflect the current situation. GDC happened in a good size, not too overwhelming, not too busy, not too fast. The formula – round of meetings, pre-dinner mixers and possible party or two before you head to bed and repeat it the next day – still works with a decent moderation. It was amazing to see friends, have a meal, hang out and promise each other to do it again. Sometime in the future.
In-person events are back and they are needed more than ever. Well, they truly never went away. In some parts of the world, there were events happening through 2020 and 2021.
Looking at the scheduled events for 2022, precisely 2/3 are organised as in-person first. And if you don’t know where to go next, try to consider our boutique games industry conferences Reboot Develop Blue in Dubrovnik Croatia (29.9. – 1.10.), and Reboot Develop Red in Banff, Canada (12. – 14.12.). After 3 very challenging years, we are bringing them back and I can’t be happier. Send me a message, if you want to learn more.
PARTNER OF THE MONTH
3 smart tips for increased engagement at virtual events
How do you want to engage the participants at your virtual event? Here are some things you can do to maximize the engagement during the event!
With a virtual event, you can create engagement and interaction with the participants in a completely different way than at a physical event, both before, during and after the event. This is the opinion of Marena Christensen, CEO of ifairs, which offers a virtual event platform for all types of corporate events. Below she shares her Top 3 tips:
1. Create a social media wall where the participants' various social media comments are gathered and displayed. Or why not a photo booth where participants can take photos together or let a cartonist house in one of the stands where you can be drawn!
2. Throw digital goodie bags. As an organizer, you throw moving goodie-bags on the screen. The fastest participant to click the bag wins. It's up to you to choose the price or to send the goodie bag even physically to the winners.
3. Record nice videos from the event so that you have plenty of marketing material to post on your social channels and to handouts to be sent out to the participants afterwards.
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Pavol Buday, curator of GCG
[Game Conference Guide is tracking games industry & game developers’ events, trade shows, festivals, conferences and events around the world.]