Was it too soon for GDC IRL?

GDC 2022 has been and gone. But what was it like? Was it too soon for real life events? How did they manage it?

‘Should we go to GDC? Or should we wait until next year?’

It’s a question a lot of us found ourselves asking. With covid spiking at the beginning of the year, we all felt a bit uneasy about travelling abroad and attending one of the largest gaming events of the year.

We actually ran a poll a couple of months before GDC to see if people were planning on going. We found that 35% of people said they were going to GDC for sure. The rest were either attending other events, or virtual only. Luckily, our poll actually helped convince a lot of people to actually attend.

But was it too soon for GDC? Covid-19 definitely hasn’t gone away for good (and likely never will). Countries have been opening up their borders, loosening their rules. But were we ready for large, real-life events? And if so, how did we manage it?

We decided that we would give it a go this year. So after plenty of Covid tests and antibacterial hand wash, we paddled our way across the pond, and for the first time in over two years, went to GDC.

Here’s what we thought.

There were less big players, but more room for everyone else

The big guys weren’t on the show floor this year, but it didn’t matter. It was actually healthy for the industry to allow the little guy a bit more affordable space. With the larger publishers and studios playing it safe, it meant a lot of small-to-mid companies had some room to breathe. And get a little bit more visibility.

We had a chance to see more games and new startups, and meet a ton of talented game developers. We hope that GDC can figure out a way to keep this spirit next year. Perhaps they can find a way to spread out the typical big players a bit more, so that smaller developers get more attention.

Everyone was nervous, to start

Handshakes or elbows? Masks or no masks? It felt as though everyone didn’t really know what to do with themselves. But after a day or two, everyone seemed to relax. We had meetings during the day. Parties and events in the evenings. Business was feeling a bit more normal.

Gameye booth at GDC

It was badly needed. It felt as though everyone let out a sigh of relief. And although it wasn’t quite the same as last time (mainly because fewer companies attended), it’s clear that we’re on the way back to normal.

We reckon it’s safe to say that it felt a bit like GDC ten years ago. Not completely mental and overwhelming as it has been in the past few years. Maybe by next year it’ll be a full show again.

GDC smashed it

It’s difficult to tell how an event is going to manage covid. We’ve been to some in the past where they’ll release rules and regulations around the virus, but then quickly fail to uphold them. GDC did a brilliant job here.

The protocols were clear. You had to be fully vaccinated with a booster, or vaccinated and then take tests every day. And it wasn’t all bark and no bite. They checked every time you went to the Moscone centre. They even introduced contactless registration to limit any spread of any germs.

Some may consider this a bit over the top. But it honestly gave everyone a sense of relief. Besides that, the event ran smoothly, as always.

Biggest takeaway? We need IRL events

Nothing beats meeting a person in real life.

Not to give shade to any online events. They work brilliantly. And they’ve helped us in more ways than one over the past two years. But it’s not that same as meeting someone in-person. Rather than building relationships, you’re jumping from one Zoom meeting to another, getting straight to business, rather than talking to another human being.

We were sceptical at first. But considering how well the venue managed the event, and the turn out, we’d say we’re on the right track to fully reintroducing real life events again.

Speaking of meetings

If we didn’t get a chance to catch up with us at GDC, then pop us a message. Even if it’s just to ramble about your favourite games or what’s happening in the industry. It’ll be good to have a chat.