In the week from 28th of February 2017 to 5th of March, I flew to San Francisco, California to attend the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017 happening in the Moscone Center and visit my brother who lives in the same city. Attending GDC has a been a huge dream for me, as I have followed it for the past years through Twitter. Without hesitation, I went there to see the latest in the entertainment industry and listen to talks from companies investing on gaming platforms and infrastructures (Google, Facebook, Amazon to name a few).
It was one of the best experiences in my life. I fell even more in love with the gaming world, not just the content but the whole world being built around it, namely Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
After spending more than 15 hours in the event talking to people from all companies and studios, here is an overview of it.
VR is the next big thing
Yes I know, I said this a bunch of times already!
I wrote a bunch on VR explaining how it represents the future, but this is different. In the expo, nearly EVERYTHING was about VR. It was like heaven for me, literally heaven. I was walking there like a little kid, fascinated by everything around me. You put your eyes up, and all you read is "PlayStation", "XBOX", "Google", "Facebook". I attended different tech talks, 2 from Facebook and one from PlayStation. It was interesting to see how facebook is putting so much money into gaming, not game development, but rather into the platform (instant games, gameroom). Google is doing something different, they are more into analytics rather than ads and platforms.
I also talked to some people from Naughty Dog (Uncharted), Treyarch (Call of Duty), Psyonix (Rocket League), Oculus, PlayStation and were all telling me how it is to work at their companies.
I had the chance to try several Oculus exclusives, played a tournament of Robo Recall to try to win an Oculus Rift, but did not manage. Anyway, it was an amazing experience to meet engineers from their team. I also had the opportunity to try the PlayStation VR with the Aim Controller to play an FPS game. It was amazing and disgusting at the same time, as spiders jump on you in the game. Honestly, if I felt disgusted, it means the game was well designed, doesn't it ? :)
Here are some photos about what happened there in downtown San Francisco
Facebook + Oculus
This is Facebook and Oculus hubs, where Oculus was making the Robo Recall tournament and showing the demos of other games. Facebook was mostly there to give tech talks, give Facebook swags (cool right ?), and recruit.
Having seen the GDC, my perspectives and opinions changed quite a bit. Before this, I wanted to become involved in Game Development (Programming mainly), working in game studios. Now, even though I still want to do that, GDC expanded my horizons. I realized I also want to enable game developers to do their job and provide awesome interactive experiences to players. I saw so much potential there, and started thinking about specializing in Human-Computer Interaction, Software Engineering in VR companies such as Oculus. Of course, the entertainment industry is still where I am heading (and that will hopefully never change). GDC did expand my horizons, offering me a broader vision and more opportunities to consider for my future.
Here are some other photos I got from the event
It was kind of funny to see Unity and Unreal (Epic Games) battling and trying to get the maximum of players. I spent some time talking to the analytics team and met their product manager. He explained to me their plans for the future in terms of data analysis.
It was also funny to see XBOX vs PlayStation and Google vs Facebook. As a passionate game developer, I focused on trying the maximum of knowledge from every company.
A photo of the PS VR + Aim Controller is part of this slide show.
Last year, I spent a week living on the campus of Stanford University. This year, I had the chance to visit the campus of UC Berkeley and Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, and all of them were really, really amazing!
A funny selfie at GDC :)
Ahmed Ahres, 24.