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10 tips for succeeding at GDC
Mar 12, 2024|3 Min
10 tips for succeeding at GDC

Excitement is only one of a myriad emotions you might be feeling as you prepare for GDC. For students, it’s an incredible opportunity to learn, network, and make connections to grow your future careers. For professionals, it’s a return home to celebrate success, catch up with long-time friends, and add new skills to your tool belt.

To help ease the stress of this large-scale gaming event, we want to provide some tips and tricks to help you navigate the chaos and at times overwhelming masses of GDC.

1. Have a plan

Scheduling your entire day out at GDC might be a touch overzealous, however knowing what you want to accomplish at GDC can help you navigate the event. Make sure to check out the event schedule and filter by your pass type to see which sessions you want to attend. Even if you will only be attending the expo at GDC, look at the companies you want to connect with and see if they are hosting activities relevant to your interests. For example, you can check out the Unity schedule and join us at our booth Friday for portfolio reviews.

2. Exchange information

Business cards are always helpful, whether they’re physical or digital. Make sure you have some easy way to exchange information so you can stay in touch with new contacts. You can also connect on social media. If you’re using LinkedIn, check out the scan feature on the LinkedIn mobile app for an easy way to connect. You may want to screenshot or download your LinkedIn QR code since cell service can get spotty with large crowds of people.

3. Take notes of who you meet

When someone hands you a business card or gives you a digital connection, take notes of where you met, who they are, and what you talked about. It seems silly now, but trying to remember everything that happened over the week will be impossible once you return home. Taking notes will help refresh your memory and maintain connections. You can use this handy google form we made as a template.

4. Actively listen

This one may seem obvious, but you will run into people working on technology that you may not be interested in or you may not understand. That’s ok, but actively listen to what they’re talking to you about and ask questions. You don’t have to know everything; the beauty of game dev is we’re all always learning.

5. Have your portfolio ready

Whether you’re an artist or programmer, make sure you have a way to show off your portfolio. Have your Github updated, your Art Station or similar site locked down, and be ready to show it at a moment’s notice. Not everyone will be available to look at it, but being ready can help when opportunities knock. Also, if you’re given feedback, write it down and review it later.

And don’t forget your LinkedIn – recruiters and industry members of all levels use LinkedIn as a digital resume and a way to stay connected with contacts. Make sure that your LinkedIn is updated with a professional photo, clear headline, links to your portfolio, and work experience. Need help on preparing your portfolio? Check out this Introduction to Portfolios tutorial on Unity Learn.

6. Talk to strangers

Stranger danger is only true outside of a conference. Talk to those next to you while you’re waiting in line or at a mixer. Generally, people don’t talk to strangers because we’re all a little awkward (industry vet or not). But the point of GDC is to meet new people, so get out there!

A great way to start a conversation is to stick out your hand and say “Hi! My name is _____.” Have two lines ready about who you are and what you’re looking for. For example, “I’m a student studying game dev at U.T. Austin, and I’m looking to learn more about the gaming industry because I hope to be a developer after graduation.”

7. Introduce everyone you’re with

If a friend walks up to you or a stranger joins a conversation area, introduce them. Bringing others into the conversation eases the burden and removes the awkwardness of a person standing right next to you silently not sure how to interject. Either you’ve introduced a friend to their new friend or made one yourself – either way it’s a victory.

8. Take breaks

The vast majority of what you’ll be doing at GDC is walking. Unless you’re extremely active in your day-to-day life, your time at GDC is very likely to be a bit of a workout! Remember to take regular breaks to rest and recover, and don’t forget to take time to eat!

9. Don’t take short interactions personally

Large conferences are hectic and exhausting. Sometimes folks won’t have a lot of time to talk. Don’t take it personally, there’s a 95% chance they just have a lot to do and had to run away, or they were as stressed out as you were.

10. Have a water bottle with you at all times, and refill it every time you see a station

The Moscone Center is huge, and it’s common for back to back sessions you want to attend to be in completely different buildings. Most of what you will be doing when not sitting in a session is walking around, and it's easy to become quickly dehydrated. While the Moscone center does have some water refill stations (usually near the bathrooms), they aren’t always near wherever you are. To combat this issue, bring a water bottle with you, hydrate regularly, and refill it whenever you come across a station.

Be sure to check out the Unity Creator Lounge at the GDC Expo and stop by on Friday, March 22 2024 for portfolio reviews. We’ll be reviewing them from 10 am–12 pm, and again from 1–3 pm. You can find us at booth S935.