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.

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