Welcome to my GDC 2023 diary, where I share the highlights of a great week in the world of XR publishing. Despite a rough start with a delayed flight, the rest of the week was nothing short of amazing as my team, and I explored cutting-edge technology, attended inspiring sessions, and connected with industry colleagues. So, join me on this journey as I take you through each day of GDC 2023.
Sunday, March 19
Although my travel plans were delayed heavily, and I ended up stuck at Vancouver Airport for nine hours, the Andromeda heroes managed to check into our hotel and bond over some quality time. Despite being trapped in the most beautiful airport I have personally had a chance to visit, I couldn't wait to join them and kick off our GDC adventure.
The first official day of GDC began! Niel's session was on the very first day, and of course, the entire Andromeda team attended and sat in the very front row to show our support. The talk was remarkable. He did a great job in the session, shared tons of information on what it's like creating a game from scratch as a solo dev, and got tons of great questions from the audience! I am so proud of him and hope his session helps many people.
Right after Niel's session, I had an engaging two-hour conversation slash meeting with our PlayStation rep, Mike Foster, to discuss VR, our shared passion for writing, and more. I was joined by my colleague Almir, CEO of Sinn Studio, creators of Swordsman. It was awesome hearing about how hyped the PlayStation VR2 community seems to be over the launch, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for this long-awaited and much-anticipated platform. With the Audio Trip team not arriving till the following day, the Andromeda team decided to wrap up the day early, calling it an early night and vowing to conserve our energy for the coming week.
Tuesday, March 21
What an inspiring but busy day! Today we had a few offsite demos, my favourite being from the innovative folks at Thirdverse, who invited us to try their new game, X8. The offices were bustling with visitors chomping at the bit to try the new multiplayer Overwatch-like competitive experience, so I actually personally didn't get a chance to try the game out myself. Instead, I watched John have a blast with his new teammates--Thirdverse had staff playing with the demo-ers, and it seemed like so much fun! It was here that I also had the pleasure of meeting HeyFalcon for the first time! He was waiting for his turn with the entire team from Kluge, so catching up with other rhythm game gurus and talking shop for a bit before the Unity party was great.
Because, yes, Tuesday was also the night of the Unity party! This ended up being such a highlight of the entire week for us as we chatted with numerous XR colleagues, experienced new VR titles, and learned a few things. A big thank you to Unity for the invitation!
Wednesday, March 22
I can not believe I was invited to the Sony offices today to participate in industry focus groups. I was humbled to discuss strategies I've used to keep communities I've helped build safe as well as the challenges I've faced in development and implementation. These focus groups were part of a larger project aiming to develop tools for studios of all sizes that help to better identify and combat hate and extremism in digital game spaces (you can see a full overview of the project here).
Seeing such a dedicated group working to positively change the industry was inspiring. But, unfortunately, it was also incredibly nerve-wracking, so between my nerves, the roundtable, and my meetings that day, I didn't even get a chance to check out the first day of the expo!
Thursday, March 23
I finally got to head out to the expo to check out the main floor, and wowie! GDC reported double last year's attendance; you can feel it on the expo floor this morning as people bustle and queue for experiences and demos. Unfortunately, I had barely enough time to float by the Meta, Pico, PlayStation, and Pimax booths before heading off to the Unity offices for lunch with my bay area BFF, Dana Mart! She gave me a tour of the place during the day and introduced me to some of her amazing colleagues. It was so nice to catch up and hear about her latest projects and all that Unity is up to.
After that, I headed back to the expo for more sights and demos and to connect with Olga from VR Oxygen, our provider of in-headset VR testing. Connecting with her in person was awesome and introducing her to Niel, who she helped by testing SolarBlack's upcoming update was a highlight of the day.
Thursday was also the night of the GDP, which was held at the most incredible residence in the corner of the city. We saw friends, met new ones, and I got trapped in a stable diffusion photo booth for over an hour. Really, I couldn't stop; it was so much fun!
Friday, March 24
Friday was the last day of GDC, so we decided to take some time for rest and relaxation. I did head up to the expo to get my last demos and sites and shopping in before we headed over to Lucas Arts studios for lunch and to bask in the sunlight. After a filling lunch, we took a stroll to the Palace of Fine Arts to take in the sights and some sun. It was so nice to soak in nature's beauty with good friends and be inspired. What a perfect way to unwind after an exhilarating week.
Saturday, March 25
With our flights scheduled, we said our goodbyes and exchanged gifts before heading home. My flight was uneventful, a welcome change after a week of non-stop excitement. GDC 2023 was a phenomenal experience filled with innovation, inspiration, and invaluable connections. Now that I'm home, I can't wait to dive back into work, armed with new insights and ideas from the conference.
As I snuggle with my kitties and prepare to publish and port to multiple exciting new platforms, I'm reminded of the incredible power of the gaming community to bring people together and drive meaningful change. So here's to pushing boundaries and creating a brighter future in the world of gaming!
Ashley "ashleyriott" Blake
Links mentioned in this blog
Future Realities Summit: Iteration in Isolation: Finding Success as a Solo VR Developer During a Global Pandemic. (n.d.). GDC Schedule. https://schedule.gdconf.com/session/future-realities-summit-iteration-in-isolation-finding-success-as-a-solo-vr-developer-during-a-global-pandemic/891518