GDC is next week! I haven’t been since 2008, but it holds a fond place in my heart. There’s two obvious sides to the event; the actual presentations, round tables, summits and whatever else goes on at Moscone, and then the parties and networking.

The presentations are great, and I really hope to pick up some ideas from my peers and share some of my experiences with them. Ultimately however, most things in game development are just, like, your opinion, man. The vast majority of what I share at my talk will not be directly relevant to anyone else’s project (and indeed I’ve tried to focus my talk on the things which will be directly relevant to other projects). It’s therapeutic to get together and share your experiences though, and it brings some sanity to this crazy industry of ours.

But the networking is the invaluable side of the event, and if you’re going for the first time then I wanted to put down some words of advice. Networking, for those who haven’t done it, is the act of making friends. That’s really all it is, although these friends are ones in your industry, who you can bond with over a common and really nerdy interest, and who may help you in the future. In this sometimes tumultuous industry, it’s really helpful to have a network of friends to lean on at times, and I don’t just mean recruiters on LinkedIn. So to maximise your networking abilities:

  • Carry your business cards at all times. You do have business cards, right? And don’t try to make them look fancy if you aren’t a graphic designer, all it needs is your name, contact information and probably some white space to write on if necessary.
  • Don’t get drunk. Or rather, don’t be that guy that gets memorably drunk.
  • Give more than you take. Do favours for no special reason. (I totally stole that from Bryanna…)
  • Don’t worry about finding the right party. There’s going to be industry folks at all of them, and the bigger ones are generally full of people getting drunk that won’t remember your name. And remember, there’s always The W.

Your network will pay off in the long run. When I was job hunting a couple of years ago I did what I rarely do and asked for a favour. Half a dozen amazing friends, who I’ve befriended for no reason other than they are cool people and we all like video games, went out of their way to put me in touch with people who could help me, and I had job interviews lined up the next day. I just realised I still owe most of them a beer, some of which I am looking forward to buying next week.

So if you see me at GDC, come tap me on the shoulder (hey, it worked when this guy went and said hi to one of my coworkers!) and tell me my blog sucks. Maybe we’ll start our own little network!