2011
03.11

PAX East is about to start, so I figure I should get down my thoughts on GDC before they get completely wiped out by new PAX ideas and inspirations.

I went to GDC 2010 and again this year. GDC this year was far more successful in my eyes than last, year, and I think I know why.

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When GDC 2010 rolled around last year, I had my hand in a few projects. I was working on Gamebook Adventures, as well as another iOS game, Terracore Adventures (not related). On top of that I had also done a bunch of work on some open source libraries for Unity3d. Because of that work I was also invited (in a voluntary capacity) to help to expo the open source stuff in the Unity booth during the expo days.

I had never been to GDC before so I really didnt know what to expect.

Here is what I had planned for 2010:

Attend the summits and tutorials and go to a bunch of press meetings (generously set up by the GDAA and MMV). At the press meetings, I was going to push the Gamebook apps (both the first book at the time that was out as well as the upcoming second book), and push the other iOS app: Terracore Adventures. On top of all that I also planned to attend some parties and give away lots of cards. Somehow this seemed like a plausible plan.

To my credit I did manage to do all of the things I wanted to do, but my effectiveness was pretty low. I had too many apps to pitch when I did get some valuable time with the press, and so none of them got a particularly good pitch. Neither Gamebook Adventures nor the Terracore game got any serious press as a result of my endeavours.

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Flashforward to last week, GDC 2011. This GDC I decided to focus singularly on Gamebook Adventures (specifically the new book, GA5). I had Tin Man Games business cards (as opposed to my own personal biz cards, and a separate terracore card that I had last year). And when I talked with the press I focused on our new gamebook, Catacombs of the Undercity, and nothing else (unless they asked).

I had press kits ready to go (basically a promo code and a zipped media kit with the press release and some images from the game) and the moment I finished a pitch to anyone, I would sit down and write them a thanks email and send off the promo code and press kit straight away.

I also attended the summits and tutorials. Mostly because none of my press meeting conflicted but I also tried hard to make the summits and tutorial talks work towards my main goal of marketing the gamebooks. I tried to tweet lots of useful tidbits from the talks and generate some new followers. once a day I tweeted about the new gamebook to all my new followers too. I don’t think that it was a huge number of people, but every little bit helps.

When I went to parties, I had only a single game to pitch, so when I met people I was far more successful in getting them interested.

This year, with my hard learned lessons from last year, and my renewed focus, I think that I managed to push gamebooks far more effectively than last year. I heard back from about half of the press people I met with (usually in just a few hours, since I had already sent them a press kit) and in the week following we have already have a few sites do reviews of GA5 (with more coming hopefully 🙂 ).

So the takeaway is two things:

A) your first trip to GDC (and any trade show probably) is more about learning the show and getting to know how the show works than it is about actually getting stuff accomplished. If you go to your first GDC with big expectations, you will probably be let down.

B) However, if you focus on a single, simple goal then you will have much better results.

Did you go to GDC this year? What did you want to get out of your trip? Did you manage it?

Cheers!
-Ben

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