Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I just wanted to say I agree with Obama when he said, as a candidate in 2007, the following:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch.

Clearly Bush is completely out of line starting a third illegal war by choosing to plunge the US in war against Libya without Congressional support. Is Bush not the worst President ever? I mean the guy really... oh, wait a minute, Bush isn't President any more. Obama is. But that can't be.

Obama campaigned against Bush saying his tax cuts exploded the debt and that we should not escalate the war in Iraq because the US should not get involved in civil wars. As President, blew through over a trillion dollars in a Stimulous bill he promised we desperately needed, then a year later admitted he now knows there's no such thing as a "Shovel Ready Project." That was a trillion dollar President-in-Training mistake that we didn't need right now. Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, saying it was "the good war," despite Bush having the good sense not to get us too mired there. Now we've lost far too many troops and resources there with little to show for it. He extended the Bush tax cuts, despite all his supporters and himself single handedly pointing at this one excuse for all our problems with debt... and then he carried on "the problem," himself. And now, he's started a third war without approval with Congress(even Bush waited for Congressional approval).

Why are we at war with Libya? Because Europe gets oil from there. So we're bombing people we don't know just so other countries can keep a steady supply of oil. For every 2 Cruise Missiles we shoot at Qaddafi's tanks, it costs us a million dollars. Our missiles are often more valuable than what we destroy with them.

Civil war, genocide, atrocities... these things happen in many African countries all the time. But Libya has oil and the others don't. Where are all the Obama supporters that chanting "No Blood For Oil!" when it was a Bush sending over troops? And as a side note, these same anti war protesters have no problem going to the grocery store and buying inexpensive produce that got there by way of big diesel trucks. I get pissed off at oblivious people that act like they're morally superior while they benefit against the very thing they protest. The same people that say, "Oh, but I drive an electric car because I care about the environment." No, you drive a coal powered car because that's where electricity comes from, you moron.

Anti war hippies piss me off in general. I say "hippies" instead of saying "Liberals," because the term "Liberal" includes a wide variety of people with very different view points. As much as it pisses me off when people make broad and inaccurate generalizations about all us Republicans, I shouldn't do it about Liberals. But anyways, back to hippies. It's not a strong military defense that causes wars, but the lack of one. Hitler didn't attack Poland because he wanted a challenge. Cut military spending, reduce the US's ability to police the world, and you'll see violence increase. The US needs to stop pretending to be the world police and accept we are the world police.

That said, I don't entirely disagree with Obama's decision. But I want to see the anti war, Obama supporters stop being hypocrites. Obama's approval rating is 45%. That's about 20% too high.

Oh, and I want to point out something else. Gas prices are now at $4 dollars a gallon. But don't you all feel a lot safer since Obama banned new well oil drilling in the gulf of Mexico? Of course, we don't own the gulf of Mexico. So Obama didn't stop drilling there. He stopped Americans from being able to drill there. That means instead of us getting more oil, many south American countries who hate us got to drill there instead. And that accomplished... what, exactly? Populist President, not doing the right thing, but doing the popular thing. We don't have a President. We have a celebrity.

And on to Health Care news, because this just keeps getting better. So over a thousand of the biggest corporations have gotten a special federal waiver allowing them to be exempt from Obama's crushing, anti business health care law. Guess who can't get the waivers? That's right, small businesses. That's the thing with federal regulations. The big companies have an army of lawyers, accountants, and analysts to get around any new regulation the government throws at them. But the smaller companies can't. So everytime some idiot politician wants to pass some regulation to "take it to the man and clean up Wall Street," what they're really doing is making it harder for small businesses on main street to compete with the big guys. This is the same reason why big business loves Liberal policies like the job killing regulation of minimum wage--it puts the hurt on small businesses struggling to compete.

Why are things not improving? Is it still Bush's fault for reasons we don't even remember any more? You could make taxes 0%, and it's still not going to make much difference. The problem is a lack of stability. People say of FDR that if something didn't work, he tried something else. That sounds like a good thing. It's not. If things are constantly shifting around you, what do you do? You play it safe, huddle in survival mode, and wait it out. No one knows what the hell Obama is doing because he doesn't know. What are we doing in Libya? What's our goal there? He doesn't know. What's our goal in Afghanistan? He doesn't know. Federal ban on gay marriage? He says his opinions on that are "evolving." Meaning, "I don't want to take responsibility for my beliefs." His inability to lead has caused massive instability and a gaping lack of confidence. He played the populist. He swayed the idiots. Now no one knows what he stands for other than he chases popularity instead of leading. Instead of creating financial stability, he destabilized the financial market with a chaotic and an unpredictable health care bill and a wasteful "stimulus" bill. He turned a simple Recession into The Great Recession, and it's just going to keep getting worse until we get a President who can bring some stability.

Monday, March 7, 2011

GDC is over.

My last day at GDC was fairly uneventful. I met a few more people. My contact asked us if we wanted to help volunteer for E3 which is in June. I told her I would, so that's set. E3 is less about business and more about new games coming out. Isn't not open to the public, so not everyone can attend.

Tonight was the last night to go out to clubs and network, but I was tired. So I just went home. Out of curiosity, I looked up craigslist in SF to see about people posting about GDC in terms of after party get togethers and what not. Oh my. I found 4 adds in the Personals section about it. All 4 were in the Men Seeking Men section. I didn't click on the posts. The titles alone frightened me. Well, it was San Francisco after all.

You know what? I looked up on the GDC website and it had listed all the companies that where hiring in the career pavilion. Well, if you click to expand, it gave the phone number and the email address of the HR person for each company so you could set up private interviews. Oh my God. What an idiot I am for missing that. I could have easily seen which of those companies were hiring writers, set up some interviews and talked directly to who I needed to. Man, I really blew it.

So as I continue the hunt, life gets a little more confusing. I had a Skype meeting with the Project Lead of the one game I'm writing for. They're still not paying us, but they want to reach an agreement with each of us to talk about what they'd be paying us if they were. Like I've said, I never thought I'd see any money out of this. But what if I did? What if this is actually my first big break into the biz? They quoted me a salary which is typical of experienced game designers, but astronomically large compared to what us lowly writers make selling novels along with pieces of our souls to publishers. By that, I mean, most published authors can't make enough money to support themselves. I mean, even authors that have books out, in stores, and on shelves, still struggle. So tonight, he quoted me a salary that was well above anything I could reasonably hope for as an author.

I know this will sound strange to any one reading this, but I felt uncomfortable being offered that much money. I'm a published author, but I've never published my fiction. And I don't have any industry experience. I'm a nobody, being offered more money that my dad made at the peak of his career at the start of mine. I don't know how to take that. Then a part of my realized this is all Monopoly money anyways until I actually have the check in my hands and it clears.

So I had assumed that if I got hired by a big company, I could keep telecommuting part time, like I'm doing, for this unfunded company. But what if the new company won't let me? I'm really kind of at a loss here. Do I stop looking for a job, hoping I start getting paid by the unfunded one, or do I keep looking for a paying job knowing that might cause me to bail on the first one? If I did leave this project, they'd have to rework a lot of stuff. It'd certainly set them back a bunch. And I don't want to do that to anyone.

I'm not in this for the money. I could care less about that. I don't bail on people. But I might never see any money out of this unfunded project. Is that worth turning down my dream(paying) job for? So yeah, it's pretty confusing knowing what to do. In either case, if this unfunded project ships, that will be a huge boost on my resume. I'd be able to claim over a year of game industry experience with one shipped title under my belt. That takes me from 1 of 200 candidates applying for the same job, down to 1 of 10. Much better odds of getting hired.

But what if this unfunded project does get funding, they pay us, and the game is ultimately successful? They were telling me tonight that this is just the beginning and that they want to keep making more games. And that they don't want to see me going anywhere.

As a side note. Networking with other writers at GDC might have been a waste of time in terms of getting hired. We're all competing with each other. But it did give me a better idea of who I'm competing against. I never met another writer that's obsessed with MMOs like I am. I know games in and out. I know players in and out. I know what players like, hate, and will tolerate. I know in-game culture. As an Anthropologist, I study behavior. As a writer, I study story and characters. As a game writer, I need to work some kinks out, but I'll be really, really good at it. Maybe I should be getting paid an astronomical salary. Time will tell.

Friday, March 4, 2011

GDC, Day 5

You know how I normally dress? Sweat pants and a Slayer tee shirt. I got in the elevator to go to the convention for the day and looked at my reflection. Of course I've look in the mirror every day this week before leaving my hotel. But this was the moment I thought about it. I was wearing khaki slacks and a dress shirt. I looked at my reflection and said, "This is who I am." Then I thought about last night, how I threw on some sweat pants and a metal band tee shirt just to go across the street to get a pizza. That's not who I was any more. I don't want to go back to that. I don't want to go back to Sacramento and be that teenager trapped in a man's body, wondering where my high school days went.

So I was hoping Thursday would be my big networking day. I still have a decent amount of business cards to hand out. People seemed a lot less approachable. They looked tired. And there was whole mess more people around. I ended up networking with the people that could help me the least--other writers. We saw each other at the same panels, the same social gatherings, and just seemed to gravitate towards each other in general. We can't really help each other since we're all competing for the same jobs.

I did better just sitting down at a table, waiting for people to sit down next to me and striking up conversations with them. I apparently met some really important Sony exec doing that. She explained what she did. It was something like a communications position, like she meets other companies trying to do stuff and she gets their games published through Sony. Could be an excellent contact if Sony would be interested in funding the MMO we're working on. Though, I hardly know how business gets done in the game biz other than what educated guessing could accomplish. But still, it might make sense for me to make a connection, then get our project manager in touch with her and let them talk it out.

I also met some guy that's a head chapter leader in the IGDA. He gave me some great advice about working the career pavilion. This is stuff I should have known, but it's been so long since I've had to apply for a conventional job, that I forgot this stuff. The HR people at the booths are the gate keepers. They are primarily checking to see if you're crazy or not. If you're a loon, they thank you for your application, tell you they'll pass it on to the right people, then throw it away when you're not looking.

At the end of GDC, the "non throw away pile" has some potentially good candidates mixed in with a lot of crap. It's impossible for them to accurately distinguish the difference. I understand this. I know I'm an untested, unknown quantity, applying for a high financial risk industry where my work could help make or break a huge investment in time, money, and resources. No company is going to want to gamble on people without experience. I get that. I hate that. But I get that. And really, if I didn't know me, I wouldn't hire me.

So anyway, this chapter guy(I'm not going to mention any names) told me that the whole objective of the booths, is to get passed the HR booth people and get on to the real people doing the hiring. As he was talking, I remember telling an HR booth guy about what I did. He told me the Content Designer guy was around, and if I wanted to come back in an hour and talk to him if I had any questions, I could do so. I didn't realize it, but what he was doing was telling me that he liked what I had to say, and he wanted to get someone in the company that knew more about the position I was applying for to better sniff me out. Like a dumb ass, I said, "I think I'm good, thanks," and passed on it.

Ah well, more stuff to know for next time. I got the impression that industry people wanted to help the talented wannabes learn the tricks and secret handshakes so they can make the industry better. Meanwhile, the untalented people should stay on their side of the fence. I'm slowly climbing the fence. I got a lot of really great advice. Really, I just have to keep at it.

One thing that really surprised me, when I talked about the project I was involved with, people seemed really interested. Like it was a big deal. I was like, "Did I mention it was unfunded. I did? Yeah well, that means we're not getting paid. Oh, you get that?" But people didn't care. They still took that as serious sounding. I guess it's not all that uncommon for people to work on serious, but unfunded projects. The Stargate MMO comes to mind. Those people worked for free for a long time. When they finally gave up, a lot of those people went to big studios. One of the Content Designers(a position I apply for), went to Cryptic Studios (a studio I've applied for multiple times over the last couple years). So, I'm thinking I need to take my current project a hell of a lot more serious. I mean, it really is a cool project. I just didn't think it meant anything since it was unfunded.

It's not that I blow it off. It's just that I found it mentioned on the Gamedev boards along with a lot of crap. It looked pretty cool. They said there might be money down the line, which I read as, "You will never see money from this ever." I just thought of it as a portfolio piece. Anyone that knows me, knows I don't care about money. I really don't. I need enough to eat, sleep, and take care of minor things here and there, but I don't care about material possessions. I need a good computer to do my thing, that's about it.

Anyway, other than free burritos from some tiny game companies giving away food to people with GDC badges, not much else happened. Another group of people gave out Korean tacos. It said, "pork" and I hope that's what it was. But yeah, I was pretty nervous. While you waited in line for your food, they had their games set up for you to demo. I didn't really think about all the people on the street handing out fliers and stuff. People were dressed up as wizards, pirates, and zombies just outside. Since I stayed inside from opening to close most the time, I didn't really notice them being there. As they gave out the free food, they asked people to blog about their company and check them out and stuff. But now I can't remember the names of their companies. But there, I blogged about them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

GDC, Day 4

Day 4 was yesterday, Wednesday. Today is the day I get my first chance to go to the career pavilion. A few people on the street have asked me what the "GDC" on my badge around my neck stands for. So people have struck up conversations with me about it. So these two garbage collector guys stopped me as I was walking from my hotel to the convention to ask me about it. I stopped and talked to them about how I was hoping to try and get a job. One of them said, "No, you're not going to try and get a job, you're going to get that job." I laughed, and they kept going. He said, "You're going to go in their and take someone's job because you're the best." It was just so funny and awesome. He said, "Let me tell you something. When I applied for this job, I told them I used to be a carpenter. The guy said, 'You see these ten pages I got here? These are a list of guys trying to get this job, and they're all carpenters. What makes you any different?' So I said, 'None of those guys are a bad ass. You want to start your company off with bad asses, right?' So that's what you gotta do. You gotta go in there and let them know you're a bad ass."

I shook their hands, patted them on the shoulders, thanked them immensely for their advice. Then I put my hands together and did a short bow. Why? I dunno. Cause it was an instinct and I really appreciated their encouragement. They did the same and bowed back, which was really funny. I'm a white guy, bowing to two black guys, which makes no sense, but it was fun and I smiled the whole way to the convention.

Aside from women asking me if I want dates and the 10-12 pan handlers I pass to or from the convention, I've got a general sense that the people in San Francisco just seem to be really nice.

So Wednesday - Friday is when Expo Pass people get to actually start doing stuff. And I had a lot to do. First off, they opened the Expo floor up at 10pm. It might have been a little bigger than the size of a soccer field. On the far left where closed booths for game companies. I didn't really get what was happening there. I think people made appointments to interview for jobs or they're doing some kind of business deals there. I don't know. In the middle was wear a lot of companies expo'd stuff. There was a dancer lady with motion capture sensors strapped to her. She was moving around and the 3d, CGI character on the screen was perfectly synced with her. I've seen that done before, only the 3d character was fully rendered--which I hadn't seen done before.

There were a bunch of other things like some guy lecturing about new features in 3d Studio Max and Maya. Since I'm not an artist, I just kept going. I got the the career pavilion. This is why I came to GDC in the first place. I didn't really get what I was supposed to do. Just walk up and say, "Hi, I'm awesome, please hire me"? So I just kind of pretended like I was looking at something else while I stood in hearing range to listen to what other people were saying. Ok, so I saw a lot of artists with their digital portfolios on IPads showing off their work. Blizzard wasn't taking applications. It seemed like their booth was set up to tell each person in line why they weren't going to be hired. They were pretty nice about it. It was more of a, "You need to do this and this, then come back next year," kind of thing. I mean, I'm trying to get a vibe about why employers are even here in the first place. They get plenty of people applying for them through their websites, so why even have a booth? It's not like the very people they want to attract aren't already aware of Blizzard. But I think what it is, is that employers want to help develop a better community of employees. So maybe a diamond in the rough gets some encouragement to keep going, thus better expanding the pool of talent worth hiring down the road.

So I hit the Blizzard booth first since I figured I might learn from that and won't get hired either way. He told me that I was too all over the place and needed to focus on one type of game writing and get experience doing that.

That makes sense, but does offer a problem. The term "writer" means a lot of things in the industry. There's design documents that need to be written. These will never be seen by the public. They're instructions for the programmers and artists to follow in creating mechanics and art assets. There's content design. This is quest information. There's dialogue. Writers that do dialogue come in near the end of the project. There's transfiction writing. This is creative writing that is really glorified fan fiction. Transfiction writers have no impact on shaping the game, but come in after to create more content in terms of novels, web comics, etc, to go along with the game. All of these forms of writing are done by different writers and here I am applying for all of it. If I can do a little bit of everything, it either makes me more viable to companies looking for one of the things I do, or less desirable to a company that wants someone that specializes in that area. It's hard to know which way to go. As I get more exposed to the industry, I'll be better at reconciling this problem.

Ok, so I hit the other booths. Blizzard had a long line, but many of the others didn't. Again, I was still trying to figure out what the objective of the people at these booths had. I hit some stumbling blocks. One guy, I mentioned that I'm a studio producer for musicians, and that would make it easy for me to transition to working in the studio with voice talent--an important thing since writers are often writing the dialogue. The guy said, "We don't make the kind of games with voice overs."

Tom Sloper gave advice on for people like me going to the GDC. He said the most important thing we can do is listen. He also said that employers don't care about us(I think he was exaggerating), but rather, care about our interest and enthusiasm.

I was thinking about as that guy told me that I made a false assumption about his company. I tried to cover by saying that if they chose to start using voice overs in later games, I could really help to make them more believable. But still, as I went booth to booth with the, "I don't know what kind of games you guys make, but please hire me" attitude(ok, so I tried to play that down the best I could), the bottom line was, they could see through that.

One guy told me they already had a writer. I said, "And he's almost as good as me." He laughed, but I later regretted saying that. I mean, just because he laughed, doesn't mean he didn't think I was an asshole for saying that. I mean, I want to be a "Bad ass," but not a jerk. What I should have said after that is that I was kidding, that I was sure they had a wonderful staff and I'd be honored to work with them--which is very much the truth. Instead, I think I just came across as another forgettable person standing in line with too much ego and not enough experience.

In line for Obsidian Entertainment--a game company that makes the hit games... ah, I have no idea... the guy said to the artist standing in front of me, "Every time I see your work, it keeps getting better and better." How many times do we need to keep coming to the GDC to get hired by someone?

I would cheat a little, pull out my IPhone, look up each company on the internet to see what kind of games they made, and try and give my pitch based on that. Tencent Games in Boston was actually hiring a Content Designer. The position said they were looking for someone to help the Creative Director and Lead Writer realize the full potential of their game lore. Um, crap, that's what I've been doing for the last 15 years in my writer critique groups. So I walked up to the booth and explained what I did and what I could offer. The other thing too, these people manning their companies booth--um, who were they? Think about it. So if you're a programmer, artist, writer, accountant, social media marketer, producer, what have you, these are radically different roles. And they just had one person there talking to you as if one person really knew the ins and outs of what you do. So as I'm explaining to the lady how awesome I am--I was being funny and down to earth about it--she said, "Content Designer? That's on our list. Does this match what you're talking about?" as she showed me the description, that I already read off their website before I talked to her. I mean, I just explained to her what I did, and now she was asking me if that fit the job description. It made me realize that she was listening to what I was saying, but only kinda sorta. Then it started to make me wonder what the booths were really for again.

I thought this was the grand daddy event for job seekers going to the GDC. Now I'm starting to wonder if there's much difference between going to the booths or just emailing your resume through their sites while sitting at home. I know there's got to be more to it. What ever is really going on, I'm on the outside looking in for now.

In either case, not all my booth experiences were negative. I'm kind of making it sound like I was actually like a dope, being an ass all full of myself. That's not really how I was. I was being pretty down to earth, pitching what I did with a nervous tinge in my voice I hoped wasn't noticable, why I thought my choice of majors and the skill sets I developed set me apart and made me unique, and what I could bring to the table. But I was charming about it. I made people laugh. The lady at the Warner Brothers booth was handing out WB deodorant. I asked her if it makes you smell like Bugs bunny. She thought that was funny, and we joked around about what WB must think of gamers if they're passing out deodorant to us. She told me about how their office in Seattle was looking for writers and asked if I'd be willing to move. I got that question a lot, actually. Hmm, it seems kind of silly to ask me that. If you're applying for a game company, you pretty much have to accept that you're going to be moving to do it. I've decided that I don't like telecommuting. I don't like being alone at home, feeling in the dark about what's going on. I'm a visual person. I need to figure out the vibe of things, the body language of people talking to me, and get a sense that way about things.

Other than the two big companies there--Blizzard and Bethesda, all the other companies took resumes. Some of them wrote notes on them. One guy wrote, "Writer" on the top even though I had that near the top. Another put a box around, "Content Designer" which I had as my resume title after my contact info. One wrote, "Willing to move," on the back. A couple I didn't leave my resume with. One company said they only hired local people... and they had no offices in California. Um, why were they there then? Another only had offices in Taiwan, which, at this point, I'd move to Taiwan for a job. I don't care. He told me, "If we decide to start having a western touch to our games, we'll consider you." That just seemed odd that they would come to a convention in the west, but not have west themed games.

I don't know. Like a lot of what was going on, I didn't really get it. I think it will make more and more sense as time goes on. I think something killing me is that I didn't know which companies made which games. I know maybe the top 20 game companies, but there's hundreds that I should know. And only a few of the ones I do know, I know fairly well.

How much farther would I have gotten had I walked in like, "You know how much I love playing your game such and such and how great the story line is with the thing and the thing?" How much further would I have gotten had I contacted these companies ahead of time and asked to set up meetings to get a private interview with someone that actually knew what questions to ask a writer? I'm on some mailing lists that had game companies posting that they were available to schedule private meetings with people at the GDC. They were all companies that didn't make the type of games that need writers, so I didn't go through with that, but what mailing lists am I not on to hear about the companies that do make the games that could use me?

Ah well. There's always next year, right? Next year, I'll be a lot better prepared.

So I got to go to a couple panels today. The first one was on the importance of testing games early. The guy presented worked on Halo a lot and talked about things they did in that game. I've never played Halo, so I didn't really get a lot of what he said. But he said something like at the beginning, they make you run around without a gun. They want you to get used to the controls first, without having to worry about defending yourself. So some players would get pretty frustrated at playing a shooter and going the first three minutes without having a gun to shoot. So finally, you talk to this really important guy, and there's this big deal about how he gives you his gun like he's passed the mantle on to you, and it's all epic. And they found that players would take the gun and immediately shoot the guy just because they were so mad at going so long and not being able to shoot anything. Some people weren't mad, but just wanted to test the gun out, shot the guy, and it screwed up their game. So they had to change the game so that you didn't get ammo until after you left the room. Now, this is a problem that game testers won't encounter. Why? Because they're game testers. Game testers do a poor job at simulating what the typical player is like. Most players don't play 50 games a year like us hardcore players do. So they do silly, none nonsensical things like shoot important people they're not supposed to shoot.

I went to another panel after that, that was a game writer's round table. They mostly talked about the frustration writers have in that most "writers" get hired because they know people, not because they're good writers. And because of that, games often have bad writing--which they do--and that writers need to band together to try and promote good writing in games. It's sort of a weird thing here. Some players don't care about writing, but the ones that do and can spot good writing, find it important. The problem is that most game makers can't spot good writing and don't care about it and don't see it as that important. How do we, as writers, impress upon the greater game development community the importance of hiring actual writers for writing positions?

I don't know. But after, I worked at the IGDA booth for a few hours, felt tired and hungry and for my motel. I had been living off a case of Slimfast, some blueberry bagels, and a bag of tangerines that I bought before coming out here. I stocked up on anything that didn't need refrigeration, but didn't think about nutrition. I was badly craving anything with protein in it. Getting a pizza might not have been the best filler for that, but I decided to see if Domino's lived up to the "we don't suck any more" claims on their commercials. I thought it was pretty good. I ate almost an entire medium pizza by myself, crawled into bed and slept. Ok, so it's now thursday morning. Hmm, I don't really know what to do today. I have to work something today and there's some awards show--that sounds like a big waste of time. I've heard that Will Wright sometimes comes in and gives speeches, but he has to do it under a pseudonym or the room gets crazy packed and unwieldy. For anyone not obsessed with games, Will Wright created Sim City, the Sims, and all the other early Maxis games making him the most successful computer game designer in the history of the world. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

GDC, Day 3

So Day 3 would have been Tuesday. I'm getting behind on keeping up since it's Thursday morning as I type this. Ok, so Tuesday, I didn't have much to do in the morning. So I'm still trying to figure out the vibe, the hiddenness of things. You know when you don't know enough about something to ask questions about it? Well, there was so much going on that I knew I wasn't prepared to take it all in, but I knew from the beginning that this trip was about learning how to get in to the industry rather than getting into the industry.

I accidentally dropped my folder. It's a really old folder, one that's lasted me from my junior college days--so almost 10 years. The front binding tore, so it was hanging on by little more than a thread. I couldn't just throw it away, but I didn't want to show up to interviews with something clearly old and damaged. I bought a new folder at the Walgreen's nearby. It was a symbolic thing. I was saying good bye to my college days and accepting that I was forging a new path.

So tons of stuff to do, but not for meager Expo pass holders like me. I heard a guy say, "They've got balls to charge us thousands of dollars for content that they're just going to show on youtube for free." But i occurred to me as I thought about all the GDC seminars I've watched on youtube. All this stuff I'm missing out on has nothing to do with the content itself. It has to do with being a high level industry people being able to be surrounded by other high level industry people without the wannabes like me pestering them. At this point, I'm riffraff, and the people that shell out the money(or who work for companies that did), have a really high chance of walking up to someone, starting a conversation, and having it be a contact worth making.

That's ok. I understand things have to be that way. It doesn't bother me because I know one day I'll be a high level person. And two, I shouldn't expect some big exec to give me a job tomorrow and whisk me away into some huge company making epic games. I need to start with the little guys and start small and pay my dues. I'm fine with that.

So I go to do my first day of volunteering. There was some meet and greet for IGDA members. Basically people wanted to go and I checked to see if they were on the list. If they were, they got a wrist band to the party. If not, no go. I thought it was a little amusing being the list Nazi when I'm not a member of the IGDA. The fact that I'm not a member, yet I'm volunteering for them, is another really weird thing, but that's another story. It's only like $25 - $50 bucks a year depending on what kind of member you are. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I'll probably join soon. I'm really thrifty, and all this money I've been blowing through has got me a little nervous, so even $40 bucks has me a little nervous. Once I'm employed, I won't be as nervous.

So the wristbands got sent out, we closed down the IGDA booth and headed out to the mixer. It was at a dance club and it was really loud. I went with some other IGDA volunteers and we walked around and talked to people. I met some artists that seemed interested in the gaming project I'm working on. I gave out my business card and hopefully something will come out of that. I asked my project lead if there was anyone he wanted me to try and recruit and he said character modelers and animation artists.

We closed out the night by hopping to a few other clubs. It's amazing how many clubs are in downtown San Francisco. But at night, any club you go to near the GDC convention will have tons of gamers there networking. More and more, I'm thinking the whole conference is just a gimmick to get people to hang out.

It was close to midnight and I was pretty tired. The blisters on my feet were starting to get blisters, so, instead of going to the next club, I just went home to catch up on sleep.

I'll type up Day 4(yesterday) right after this.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GDC, Day 2

So yesterday(monday) was a pretty short day for me. I didn't really understand that volunteering earned me an Expo Pass, not the full access one. So none of the cool conferences and summits were open to me. The Expo pass generally means for Mon and Tuesday, you get to wait in the lobby.

So I checked in and everything and got my badge to wear around my neck. Walking San Fran, I can see lots of other GDC'ers wearing their huge badge around their necks. That's kinda cool, I think. Anyway, so two hours after I took care of getting my badge and pass and worked out what my work schedule would be for volunteering, I got an email from GDC saying I won an Expo Pass. They announced they were giving some away a couple weeks ago, and I filled out a form to win one. But yeah... little late in the announcement, guys. I wrote them back and told them I already had a pass, so please give mine to the next person on the list.

Ok, so why am I working for a badge when I could have accepted the free one? One, I really don't care about moving boxes around and setting up stuff, or whatever work needs done. And two, it gives me the chance to network with people.

Anyway, here it was monday, and it's setting in that I have nothing to do(nothing I have access to, I mean). So I asked my volunteer coordinator if I wasn't on the schedule for Monday, could I just do whatever. Basically, I was trying to nicely say, "Can I go home?" She said that Mon and Tues of GDC is when all the high level industry people come to do all the conferences and summits. And since there's not many other people around yet, this is the perfect time to talk to them and make contacts. I nodded and said that was a really good idea. Then I walked to my hotel room and went home.

Yeah, yeah, I know. But my stupid hotel room didn't have internet. They had WiFi, but I don't have a wireless modem on my desktop, and my laptop won't run Rift. I had to get home, log in, and see how my Rift guild was doing. Kinda crappy, the game comes out, I start a guild, recruit like mad--we're the biggest guild on my server, then I leave for a week. Lame of me, I know. But I changed the ranks so they could do all the stuff they need to do without me. So they should be ok. They're doing well.

Alright, so sorry for anyone interested in GDC finding these posts through googling GDC and hearing about my Rift addiction. Today should be a little more interesting. I'm working some party for IGDA--and I barely even know who they are or what they do... and I'm volunteering for them.