GDC offers breeding ground for video game trends, hype

The 2006 Game Developers Conference (GDC) began today in San Jose, CA, at the San Jose Convention Center. The conference, with a theme of "You Define What's Next," features more than 300 lectures, roundtables, and tutorials from some of the top game developers in the industry.

The 2006 Game Developers Conference (GDC) began today in San Jose, CA, at the San Jose Convention Center. The conference, with a theme of "You Define What's Next," features more than 300 lectures, roundtables, and tutorials from some of the top game developers in the industry.

The GDC is the precursor to E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo - which is the center of the gaming universe.

Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, is set to give a lecture at the GDC Wednesday about how new technology and new business models will help ignite the growth of the computer entertainment industry. Other seminars will address such issues as the need for women in the industry and the ability of gamers to appeal to a more diverse audience, as well as the hot-button issue of violence and sexual content that is rampant in the video-game genre.

Why does it matter?

"The GDC has become the mecca of North American game developers," says Erica Kohnke Kain, CEO of game specialist firm Kohnke Communications. "It's a place where publishers are looking for developers and vice versa."

In previous years, major products, like the original Xbox 360, have been shown off at the GDC. It sets the stage for E3 and allows game developers to swap tracks for creating new games.

Kain says gamers will not really see the reverberations of the GDC until E3 or even the Christmas season, when most new games will hit the market. "GDC tells the game industry what platform developers are really excited about developing for right now, whether it be the PS3 or the Xbox," she adds.


Five facts:
1 The expo floor of the conference is expecting in excess of 12,000 attendees, with most of them having more than seven years of experience in the gaming industry and an average of more than nine published game titles.

2 The gaming industry is worth an estimated $11 billion. More than 90% of attendees have purchasing power for their companies concerning software and hardware tools.

3 The conference will address aspects of the gaming world ranging from audio to business and management, as well as game design, visual arts, and programming. On the visual side, Ronald Moore, the creator of Battlestar Galactica, is also set to speak on Wednesday.

4 Exhibitors on the expo floor will include big-time gamers like Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, and Sony. Other companies that will be on the floor are Cartoon Network, Virtools, WildTangent, and dozens more.

5 This year's GDC sponsors include Gamasutra.com, Game Developer magazine, 1 UP.com, Animation Magazine, Computer Graphics World, and Edge.

Lisa LaMotta

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