GDC 2016 Tops Attendance Record, Celebrates Past & Future

The 30th edition of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) set a record for event attendance, with more than 27,000 game industry professionals at last week’s conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. One of the major draws this year was the debut of the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC), an event dedicated to the creation of new video games, entertainment and technology around virtual and augmented reality (AR), which was held alongside GDC 2016. VRDC brought greater focus to the nascent field of virtual reality development.

VRDC attracted such a large audience on its first day that the conference sessions had to be moved to larger rooms to accommodate the overflow crowds. Sessions covered both games and entertainment production issues. In total, GDC presented more than 150 talks and panels, covering production, storytelling, monetization, audio, marketing and education, among a range of other topics.

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GDC 2016 celebrated the history and legacy of the conference with “Flash Backward: 30 Years of Making Games,” an all-star session that covered insights into the history of game consoles, the birth of digital game distribution and the promising future of VR with an all-star panel featuring giants of game and GDC history, including conference founder Chris Crawford, PC adventure game pioneer Lori Cole, industry leaders Phil Harrison, Ken Lobb, Tim Schafer, and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.

More than 550 companies packed the Moscone Center expo floors with product and tech demonstrations. networking and recruitment opportunities. In addition, GDC hosted a variety of Interactive Spaces throughout the week. Independent developers and some of the latest indie games were featured in the GDC Train Jam, alt.ctrl.GDC and Mild Rumpus areas, a special edition of Double Fine’s “Day of the Devs” and the Indie MEGABOOTH showcase. The GDC VR Lounge featured a range of VR and AR demos across all the upcoming VR platforms.

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At the annual Game Developers Choice Awards, USC’s Tracy Fullerton, associate professor and director of the University of Southern California Games program, received the Ambassador Award for the “instrumental role” she has played in “the creation of influential independent games that include ‘Cloud,’ ‘fl0w,’ ‘Darfur is Dying’, ‘The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom’ and ‘The Night Journey,’ with artist Bill Viola.”

The Ambassador Award honors individuals who advance video games through advocacy or action. The GDC announcement went on to say, “in and out of the classroom, she has established her sterling reputation as an esteemed designer and teacher in the art and craft of game development.”

The GDCA Game of the Year went to CD Projekt RED for their game, “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.”

“This year’s GDC, paired with the inaugural VRDC, allows us to look both backwards at the legacy and lessons of previous years, and forward to the future of games and VR experiences. Even in its 30th edition, GDC continues to evolve and grow to encompass all of the key lessons, advancements and artistic strides that the industry makes,” said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference.

“Games are becoming the most popular form of entertainment in the modern world,” she added, “so it’s only appropriate that GDC carry with it the same spirit of fun, adventure and discovery as the games themselves, just as it has since its beginning.”