GDC'11 Student Scholarship Reports Each scholarship recipient was asked to compile a report of their adventure to GDC.
Here are the submitted reports, which describe their favorite sessions and advice to others heading to GDC for the ﬁrst time. Enjoy! Student Report Index Bobby Anguelov - University of Pretoria Stephen Ascher - Concordia University Andrew Bertino - Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy Sarah Chu - University of Wisconsin-Madison Paul DiPastina - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Teale Fristoe - UC Santa Cruz Salvador Garcia-Martinez - Concordia University Adam Green - University of Teesside Pier Guillen - Purdue University Mary Holtschneider - Wake Technical Community College Andrew Hsu - Stanford University Sho Iwamoto - Hokkaido University Arpita Kapoor - ABV Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Abhimanyu Kumar - Indian Institute of Management Arvind Kumar - Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center Zach Lindblad - UC Santa Cruz Billy Matjiunis - George Brown College Hazel Mckendrick - University of Edinburgh Margaret Moser - Parsons, New School for Design Sanghee Oh - University of Southern California Jacob Pennock - East Carolina University Molly Profﬁtt - Savannah College of Art and Design Michael Scott - Brunel University Samantha Vick - University of Southern California Wenjie Wu - University of Tokyo
Bobby Anguelov GDC was a real eye opener for me. Iʼm currently looking at getting into the game industry and it was an amazing experience from both a learning and a networking perspective. The IGDA scholarship made my year. This was my ﬁrst exposure to the real game industry, an industry previously to which my only access was through online articles and game development books. I spent the entire ﬁrst two days at the AI summit, then the next three were spent in a mad dash running between talks, meetings with peoples and networking. At the end of the week I was dead on my feet but it was worth it. I didnʼt walk away with a ton of cards but the ones I did walk away with were important. My mentor was Neil Kirby, he and his friend Dave Mark took me under their wing and helped me survive the conference by giving me pep talks when I needed them and introducing me to a whole lot of important people! My favorite sessions were the following:
• The Entire AI summit: this relatedmostly to my interests and Iʼd be hard pressed to pick the best
talk from the entire lineup. Its sufﬁcient to say they were all informative and interesting.
• Living Crowds: AI & Animation in Assassinʼs Creed Brotherhood – this session covered just how
well crowd behavior could be faked through simple animation. It made me realize that it is possible to simulate entire living crowds with almost no actually AI.
• Lighting you up in battleﬁeld 3: It was really amazing to see how DICE implemented pseudo realtime radiosity in the frostbite game engine. My advice to future scholar recipients is as follows:
• Bring lots of business cards, but be careful not to put student on them. Also make sure to leave
the backs blank.
• Try and get a hotel as close to the conference as possible, trust me youʼll be grateful at the end of
• Do not miss any opportunity to network, no matter how shy you are and pick your events
carefully. Donʼt blow off a large publisherʼs event for a college club dinner. You are there to meet industry professionals not other students.
• And most importantly of all relax and enjoy yourself. If are not sure about a future in the game
industry after a week at GDC youʼll know for sure if game dev is for you or not. Thanks to everyone involved in giving me this amazing opportunity! I really appreciate it and it was one of the best weeks of my life!
Andrew Bertino Two months ago, on my way out to dinner, I received a phone call. It was an unrecognized number from California. I thought to myself for a moment and it hit me. It couldnʼt be I said to myself. After answering the phone, my assumption had proven true.
On the other end of the phone was Gordon Bellamy, the Executive Director of the IGDA. He informed me of winning one of the twenty-ﬁve IGDA scholarships for GDC 2011. I honestly donʼt remember much of that conversation as it all happened so fast. But I do recall my responses, which were pretty much comprised of awesome and thank you. When a professor of mine sent out an email about an article on Gamasutra talking about the IGDA scholarship, I never expected it would lead where it did. I honestly assumed it was a long shot. But I took my time and submitted the application. Iʼve always wanted to make video games, even when I was a child. I graduated from Florida State with a degree in IT. After two years of Web Development, I knew that was not where I wanted to be. Thus when my job as a Web Developer was in jeopardy due to layoffs, I knew now was the time. I could no longer sit around and miss my chance to be part of the industry. I think not taking that chance would have haunted me forever. From that, I applied and got accepted into the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida. FIEA is a graduate program in game development where we work on prototype games, and even make 8 month capstone games with team sizes in the 20s. These are the events that led me to FIEA, led me to that email, and led me to the phone call from Gordon. I had become one of the twenty-ﬁve GDC 2011 Scholars and I was going to San Francisco for GDC, an event, prior to a year ago, I assumed I would never get to attend. My experience as an IGDA scholar was both memorable and rewarding. The people I met and the skills I learned in the week at GDC were amazing. From the private tours of studios, to the networking we were able to do with Zynga, Microsoft, Epic, and other companies, the experience was really like nothing I had been a part of before. Aside from the meeting with companies, having lunch with Zynga, and all the completely awesome things Jack Bogdan, Sheri Rubin, and Gordon planned for us, some of the best experiences came from meeting and talking to the other 24 scholars. GDC and this entire experience of being an IGDA Scholar, if nothing else, taught me one thing. I am a game developer. Sure I am still a student and should consider myself as such, but with talking with the other IGDA Scholars, and attending a lot of the talks and tutorials at GDC, I realized that amidst FIEA and the scholar experience I had become a game developer. Being an IGDA Scholar and attending GDC was really the ﬁrst time I felt like one and not just another student. I had conversations with 24 amazing people and we all talked about the projects we were working on, the assignments we were completing and the trials and tribulations we faced every day while working on our respective game related projects. We talked about managing people, development methodologies, programming topics, engines and more. It was great to meet and interact with such a dedicated and passionate group of people. We came from countries all across the world but were united under one thing, our passion and love for video games and the industry.
The experience taught me more than that of course. On top of feeling like a developer, I also realized that this was really what Iʼve always wanted to do. When I came to FIEA I ﬁrst received that reminder. It was where I wanted to be and I couldnʼt be happier making video games with 60 other passionate people. Being a GDC scholar was again a reminder that I was in the right place. It was a realization that hey my dream is coming true and I was living that same dream with 24 other people who too I am sure have the same dream and goal as me. Through the scholar program Iʼve met and talked to so many great people, and that includes my mentor. Part of the scholar experience is being paired up with a mentor. At GDC I met up with my mentor on two occasions. My mentor was Dustin Clingman, the CEO of ZeeGee games here in Orlando, FL. Dustin was very helpful and taught me the networking ropes at GDC. He taught me about various networking techniques, introduced me to people, and we talked about some of things I was working on at FIEA. Aside from the great tours, the talks with companies that the IGDA set up for us, and talking with all the other scholars, just having the chance to go to GDC was amazing. I went to the Producer Boot camp, sat in some writing sessions, toured and talked to a lot of people on the Expo ﬂoor, watched the experimental gameplay sessions, and even went to a talk from Will Wright. I learned a lot about production, development methodologies and a lot of little things that I could take back and apply in my projects at FIEA. Plus, I mean seriously. I got to see Will Wright in person. Two years ago that notion would have seemed ridiculous. In the end the entire experience would not have been possible without the IGDA. They have done an amazing job with the scholarship program and again the events they were able to plan for us scholars were stellar and informative. The IGDA is an impressive organization that I donʼt think gets enough recognition. They are great group of dedicated game developers who are daily trying to help each other and help budding young developers. They are doing great work with programs like the GDC Scholarship program and they are trying very hard to help students make contacts and get jobs in the industry. I can easily say the program that the IGDA setup for us scholars will undoubtedly be a huge factor when it comes time for me to ﬁnd a job. I almost cannot fully put into words the gratitude and appreciation I have for all those involved in setting up this scholar experience. It was one of the best weeks of my life and it truly was a dream come true.
Sarah Chu Let me ﬁrst get this out of my system: we got to visit Double Fineʼs studio! I was checking my email at a bus stop after work when I was notiﬁed that the IGDA Scholarsʼ ﬁrst studio tour was to be at Double Fine. I let out an audible gasp that made a few heads turn. I would have been thoroughly satisﬁed with just the one studio tour, but little did I know that it was only the ﬁrst of numerous events that got scheduled as the weeks passed.
As expected, our visit to Double Fine was incredibly inspiring. After hearing Tim Schafer and his staff speak about their craft, I left the studio with ideas for improving our game development processes at work. And, in an industry that can be inundated with concerns about unfair working conditions (such as overtime during crunch), it was refreshing to see that a studio cares about the morale of its work environment and that everyone on staff genuinely loves their job. This was my second time attending the conference, but my ﬁrst with an All Access Pass, which enabled me to attend a number of sessions I only heard other attendees rave about in previous years, including the Experimental Gameplay Sessions. The innovative gameplay showcased at this particular session made me excited about the untapped possibilities of the medium. Another highlight of this yearʼs conference for me were the Classic Game Postmortem talks, where I got to hear industry legends elaborate on the processes they took in developing their early works as emerging designers. Not only was my week at GDC a remarkable learning experience, it was an even better networking experience. In lines, during sessions, on the expo ﬂoor, and at parties, I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I also got to meet my mentor Keith Fuller, an accomplished game producer, who conveniently lives in the same city as me, so we have many opportunities to connect again in person beyond GDC. By far the greatest perk of being an IGDA Scholar was the chance to meet the other scholarship winners who are all diversely talented, highly motivated, and deeply passionate. I am lucky to include them in my worldwide network of colleagues now. Throughout the conference, I wondered numerous times how I was selected among such brilliant folks. No doubt they will all end up doing groundbreaking work for the industry, pushing at its boundaries, and it will be their talks that I attend at future GDCs. Jack Bogdan, Gordon Bellamy, and Sheri Rubin worked tirelessly to secure a jam-packed schedule for us that involved a handful of studio tours, meetings with developers, and private booth tours. Much, much gratitude to them and the IGDA at large for this incredible and unforgettable opportunity!
Salvador Garcia Overall experience Before going to GDC 2011, I did not know exactly what to expect. GDC was my ﬁrst formal interaction with the video game industry; I was slightly anxious and lacking of conﬁdence. However, one goal was clear on my mind: I was going there to learn – and even better, I was going as an IGDA scholar. Overall, I can summarize this experience as an awesome “learning boot-camp” in the game industry. My takeaways (no particular order) are: • Interaction with my industry mentor. Before beginning the conference, I exchanged plenty of emails with my industry mentor. He answered all my questions, he gave me good advice before and during the conference, he helped me to meet very interesting people and he gave me very good tips for my career development. Now I am aware of the main opportunities and challenges in the game industry. • Meeting wonderful people. The networking experience started before the conference. Through Facebook I met all the other scholars and some IGDA members. All of them are great people and shared very useful advice. As some people said during their previous experiences, most of the networking part took place during the parties and social gatherings. I managed to meet plenty of interesting people everywhere. Regardless if they are students or professionals, they were always very approachable and willing to share their experience. • Getting involved with IGDA. Being an IGDA scholar game me the opportunity to interact more closely with the organization and its members. Now I am aware of the many opportunities of being part of the association and the beneﬁts of becoming a more active member. In addition,
during the conference, all staff and members were very helpful. They answered all my questions, they gave me very valuable advice, and they helped me to meet other people. Presentations. My favorite top picks are: o One Falls for Each of Us: The Prototyping of Tragedy, by Brenda Brathwaite. In this presentation, Brenda introduced the design process her new project on development: One Falls for Each of Us. This game is part of series of games where there is a message in the mechanics. She explained that “tragedy” is a topic that can be part of game. Examples of this are: Puerto Rico and Super Columbine Massacre, which have been a big inﬂuence for many people in the society. One Falls for Each of Us is a 4-players game; you play as a white man and you have to remove Indians. There are also resources; you can spend them on helping Indians or on growing up your country. Brenda explained that during the design process, she tried to feel what they felt. However, she has not ﬁnished the project because in 2006, a “tragedy” was part of her life: she was attacked – as described on her own words – “in a horrifying way”. She tried to do a game on her imagination in order to cope with that. Then, and after playing “The Path”, she realized that “games can do anything, they are a magic medium. o Bringing Games User Research into Our Educational Practice, by Katherine Isbister. In this presentation, Prof. Isbister introduced the importance of user research on gamedesign. She shared her experience doing user research across different universities and explained the importance of usability in a product. o The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger than Jesus. This was a panel/competition built around a video game theme. This yearʼs participants were Jason Roehrer, John Romero and Jenova Chen and the theme was religion. Roehrer proposed an extension of Minecraft, were one player continues playing until she dies exactly once; then she passes the game to another player on a USB key. Romero started up his game on Twitter, where the audience registered in to participate. He gave a pad of post-its to the chosen “apostles”; they distributed the post-its to the audience. If a post-it had a star, they granted a “miracle”. The apostle who granted more miracles was the winner. Finally, Chen urged participants of his game to spread ideas to ﬁnd purposes and meaning in life. The goal was to propagate these ideas; each idea will give points to each participant. The winner will be the player with more points. The champion of the contests was Jason Roehrer.
Advice for future scholars • Establish priorities. Depending on what you want to do, I suggest choosing what to attend and what to miss. For example, if your priority is to get a job, maybe it is worth to miss the keynote speaker and use that time to visit the career pavilion… it is empty at that time. If you met somebody interesting and you miss a presentation, donʼt worry… remember that you will have access to the to the GDC vault. • Use your mentor. Your mentor is an excellent opportunity to get in touch and know about the gaming industry. I strongly suggest communicating with her before the conference and ask as many questions as possible. Donʼt be afraid, your mentor is there for helping you. • Relax, meet people. Donʼt push yourself to collect as many contact cards as possible; enjoy meeting people. Try to make a connection, have something to talk and to share. It is important to ﬁnd a good balance between quality and quantity. As a tip, there were many people around playing board games. Do not be afraid to join them, that is a great opportunity for meeting people. • Enjoy your time with the other scholar recipients. Before and during the conference you will constantly be interacting with the other 25 awesome scholars. They are on the same boat than you. Try to be part of group, get to know them, hang out with them. They will meet people too; you will also meet cool people through them. • Take few breaks. During the conference you wonʼt have many hours of sleep. If necessary, take one night off or skip a presentation and go back to the hotel to relax. Having energy is a must for enjoying the conference!
• Bring a cell phone. You want to keep in touch with the other GDC scholars and all the people
that you will meet. There are plenty of last minute outings; make sure that people can reach you.
Adam Green Having attended GDC previous to the scholarship I thought I knew what to expect; but the IGDA really went above and beyond to make it the most valuable possible experience! I was a bit of an odd case in that I was mainly there to organise business meetings related to the various businesses I run/ am involved in so I just wanted to organise as many meetings as I could with the most relevant people possible as well as network with as many people that may be useful in the future in a business sense rather than an employment sense... To that end I was assigned Jason Della Rocca as a mentor (former IGDA chair) and this was a great pair-up. Jason really helped me get the most out of the trip, inviting me along to private events where I got the opportunity to network with some very high-proﬁle industry ﬁgures outside of the normal hectic-ness of GDC as well as providing some great introductions pre-conference to aid in organisation of meetings which allowed me to setup some great meetings with the likes of EA and others. Iʼm currently doing follow-up from these meetings, but I already have one offer on the table to sign one of my games in development as a result of those meetings and a few publishers have requested follow-up meetings to discuss things in more detail back here in the UK. Also Jasons current work in business consulting was also very useful to discuss during the times we met over the course of the week in terms of improving my own business strategy and it was great to have someone in a knowledgeable position I was able to talk over the current businessʼ as well as future plans with in an analytical way. The Parties Again having attended previously I knew the importance of parties and therefore pre-planned the majority of my nights around the most ideal networking opportunities. I managed to get into the Sony party via email introductions pre-conference, as well as getting invited to several useful iPhone related parties due to the businessʼ I run and existing connections. What I found interesting is that the majority of my ʻwork and networkingʼ during the conference happened at the parties and that I spent the majority of the time at them actively rushing around networking and introducing myself to people. I would urge future scholars to really maximize their networking during the evenings as the parties give are a great opportunity to form friendships with people that will not only be great to hang out with, but also likely valuable in your future career. Having made the mistake of just enjoying myself at parties in previous years I really wanted to maximize the beneﬁt of the trip by forming as many new valuable relationships as possible. Via Jason I also attended the house party of Clint Hocking (Creative Director, Lucas Arts) the Saturday following the conference. This was a networking dream with the likes of Brenda Brathwaite, John Romero and a number of speakers at the conference all very openly accessible to chat to, and a number of valuable contacts came out of that party, as well as a few potential business partnerships which are currently being discussed. Studio Trips So IGDA also organised a number of studio trips for the group including a trip to Double Fine, Lucas Arts and Playdom. There was also a lunch organised with Zynga.
Double Fine was a great opportunity to catch up with a friend from past conferences who happened to be giving the tour, as well as it being great to see the culture setup within the studio. They wenʼt into details as to their hiring process and we weʼre given the opportunity to ask questions of both Zack (their VP) and Tim Schafer (CEO) which weʼre highly useful in terms of establishing how they wenʼt about setting-up and growing the studio which is of direct relevance to my own ventures. It was great to be able to get that level of detail in terms of how they managed to create the amazing company culture they have managed to create there. We then toured Lucas Arts. This was again useful, however due to the scale of the studio and secrecy of their projects we weʼre unable to see as much of the actual nitty-gritty as I would have liked. However it was quite cool seeing all the movie memorabilia just dotted around the studio corridors (including Han Solo cast in stone)! Next came Playdom... This was great for me given that one of my businesses is reliant upon being viral and the opportunity to network and ask questions of guys with such relevance to that venture was a great experience. Iʼve already incorporated a number of things into one of my businesses (Daily App Dream) as a direct result of their talk and advice, incorporating a number of their invitation style mechanics into the service. This is currently in approval with apple, but if successful in generating the desired virality, then the increased revenue implications could be amazing.
Conclusion GDC always is a great week, however with the beneﬁt of having experienced it before I must say IGDA really went above and beyond to maximize the beneﬁt of the week, and I achieved far more with the help of their studio visits and mentoring pair-ups than I could have achieved on my own. In terms of advice for future scholars Iʼd say:
• Pre-Plan as much as possible; e-mail everyone you know and ask about parties and try to go to
the most beneﬁcial ones based on networking and your own goals.
• Bring 200+ business cards and make sure you give them all out; donʼt be shy, introduce yourself
• Donʼt abuse the open bars! Most of the parties are free bars and in terms of networking and
introducing yourself to random people a few drinks can help, but donʼt get wasted :P! Iʼd like to thank Jack, Gordon, Shelly and IGDA as a whole for running the GDC Scholarship scheme. It really is an invaluable resource for students and I would urge you all to apply to future scholarship programs. Andrew Hsu If you're a student thinking of applying for the IGDA GDC scholarship, STOP reading this right now and go apply. It will probably be one of the coolest experiences in your life. I had the good fortune of already being in the Bay Area, so I was able to get to San Francisco every day for the week easily. I attended the Game Developers Conference just when I was launching my own game startup, and I met a ridiculous array of awesome game industry people and new connections that I continue to talk with today.
It's an exhausting conference - a full week of nonstop activity, from early in the morning to late at night. There's a lot of walking, looking, talking, and listening, and you have to carefully choose what you want to see and which talks you want to attend out of the hundreds that are offered. The biggest names in the game industry are all there, and it's up to you to make use of that opportunity. One of our memorable trips was the very ﬁrst day, when we visited Tim Schafer's Doubleﬁne Productions, creator of such games as Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, Stacking, and so on - Doubleﬁne is one of the most comfy and entertaining workplaces I've come across, with original concept art, paintings, fan mail, and an assortment of items plastered all over the walls and personalized workstations. All of this happens in a quite spacious studio close to the San Francisco Caltrain station. The next day (Tuesday) I spent most of my time hanging around the Serious Games Summit and attending excellent talks by Jane McGonigal, Laralyn McWilliams, Jesse Schell, Ian Bogost, Noah Falstein, and so on. This was the only full day I spent during the GDC week in sessions, and that's the way I think it should be done. Scholars holding the All Access Pass will have access to the GDC vault with video recordings of all the sessions afterward, so I chose to use the rest of my time meeting people, attending mixers, and roaming the Expo ﬂoor. Speaking of the Explo Floor, even if you don't have a full Conference Pass I'd highly recommend at least an Expo Pass. It's an enormous Expo/Job Fair well worth the entrance fee and there were lots of impressive demos, games, and tech on display - Crysis 2 in 3D, Halo something in 3D, Fable 3 in 3D... lots of 3D stuff. Also a tech preview from Epic games showing a frankly unbelievable piece of non-prerendered gameplay. Basically my advice would be to spend about a day in sessions, and the rest of the time meeting new people, roaming the Expo Floor, and going to meetings. Oh, and make sure you get a hotel as close as possible to Moscone - you'll want to go back more than once per day to unload stuff, and you don't want to be walking for a half hour. Thank you to Jack Bogdan, Gordon Bellamy, and Sheri Rubin, who all organized a fabulous event and helped us all advanced our careers and understand the industry much more. Jack especially was a superhuman, pulling it all together and making sure we experienced everything that we could! As a GDC scholar you'll be able to learn from the absolute best and meet people you would never meet otherwise. Oh, and we all got free Xboxes.
Teale Fristoe The IGDA GDC scholarship was a truly amazing experience for myself and the other scholars. Many of us are only about to begin our careers, and having the opportunity to experience the most important gathering of the game community was life changing. GDC is a prohibitively expensive conference, far too costly for most students, so having our passes paid for allowed many students, myself included, able to attend when there would have been no way otherwise. The fact that the pass was all access meant that we were uninhibited, able to explore all the game industry has to offer. The beneﬁts of the scholarship did not just start with the pass, though. Weeks before the conference started, Jack helped develop a community among the scholars. GDC is a big, intimidating place, and having a support group of fellow students made the event much more enjoyable. Being in a room full of thousands of people can be unnerving, but even knowing one other person can make the experience much more positive. The scholarship program also put us in touch with some of the biggest names in the industry. While these were often less than personal, just having an in to start talking to someone at a company many of us
respect makes a world of difference. In fact, many people I talked to were familiar with the scholarship program, which made breaking the ice much easier. Overall, the IGDA GDC scholarship experience was great in many ways. It connected me to the community and it gave me access to an amazing event. It has inspired me to continue developing a tight game developer community at my school and encourage members of it to look into the scholarship program for next year. I'm truly grateful that I had the opportunity this year, and I hope that in the future I will be able to help out with it! Zach Lindblad My favorite moment at GDC? When two friends and I were playing B.U.T.T.O.N. on the show ﬂoor, as I tried to slam a strangerʼs hand into one of 4 plastic buttons, the strangerʼs name tag dropped into my line of view. Clearly printed were the words “Copenhagen Collective”, he had helped make the game, and for the last 5 minutes had been pushing and shoving us as much as we were pushing him. Wow. We talked for a bit about the game, along with some other projects, did the traditional swapping of business cards, and parted ways. This was GDC to me, Listening to people, talking to people, playing with people, in positions that always seemed just a few years ahead of me in the industry. If you donʼt get the overwhelming feeling that “these are my people” at GDC, hate to say it, but youʼre probably in the wrong industry. Even the sessions felt this way, nowhere else, even in the most focused of university programs, will you hear the exact talks you want to hear, and with all 50 to 200 people in that room there for the exact same reason you are. Hearing personal industry heroes speak, like Pixel, Swery, Jason Rohrer, Derek Yu, and Notch, is something I will never forget. In addition, the studios we were able to tour gave us a truly varied look at how industry professionals work. I donʼt think anyone could have chosen 3 more different studios than Double Fine, Lucusarts, and Playdom. Everything from their culture, to design philosophies, to team structure, to the end result products they offer, differs drastically. Before This experience I had just assumed no matter where you were, a graphics programmer was a graphics programmer, and a designer was a designer, and that there was some kind of job checklist that every major studio had to go down and make sure they had one of each. In all three of those studios Iʼd bet you could not ﬁnd 2 people with the same job description, the exact position I train for may exist at company A, but be slightly mutated at company B. On top of that, touring Playdom, and talking with Zynga, gave us a look into the new and rapidly growing world of social games and social game development. For any future winners, hereʼs just a few points of advice: 1. Hang out around the Indie Pavilion. All the indie Devs are near the same level you are in the industry, the ground ﬂoor, so they are looking for anyone to talk to and connect with. Most of them are on either on one man, or very small teams, so literally any questions you have about their games they will be more than eager to answer. 2. Do Some research. Find a smaller proﬁle game you enjoyed, ﬁnd out who the developers are and if they will be at GDC, rinse and repeat. The larger booths and companies are just going to be ﬁlled with HR reps, who, despite being nice and giving out swag, you donʼt care about. Talking to developers from Obsidian about Alpha Protocol, and Tripwire about Red Orchestra were opportunities I could have never received elsewhere. 3. Be open to last second changes of plan. Spend that extra 15 minutes with someone you just met on the show ﬂoor instead of going to that session you really wanted to see, or sneak into a toga party for a game youʼve never heard of on the way back to your hotel, try not
to set your plans in stone. Good luck to all of you, those who will receive this opportunity as well as those who donʼt. Know that by just reading this, by being one of the small percentage of students who are on the IGDA website, youʼve already proved your own diligence and passion.
Billy Matjiunis It's really hard, when I sit back and think about what this IGDA Scholarship Program has done for me, to really put all my emotions into words. I've been blessed with such an incredible experience, that has absolutely changed my life. I remember when I was applying to be an IGDA Scholar, thinking about how awesome it would be to be selected, and what I would do while at GDC, but I never could've imagined how awesome the reality of this experience was. I'll just get this out of the way right now, GDC was one of the best weeks of my life. From the weeks leading up to the event, Jack, Sheri, and Gordon were hard at work getting all the Scholarship recipients together and acquainted, and started letting us know about all the awesome experiences they had in store for us during the week of GDC. We ended up going on tours of DoubleFine, LucasArts, and Playdom, had lunch with Zynga, as well as taken on private meetings and booth tours with Sony, Microsoft and Epic Games, all of which provided incredible opportunities to meet and network with people, many of whom I've been in contact with multiple times since the conference was over. We were also paired with an industry mentor, which in my case was Patrick Redding - Game Director at Ubisoft Toronto. Patrick really went out of his way to give me advice, and introduce me to many of the members of his team. It gave me an opportunity to connect with someone, and really build a friendship in a way that is unique to any other way you could've met the person. I'd like to give a huge thanks to Jack, Sheri, and Gordon for really making a difference, and giving me the opportunity to take the next step in my life and career. Thank you to my fellow Scholars, for making my experience truly awesome, and I deﬁnitely look forward to a lifelong friendship with all of you, and I'm super excited to see the amazing careers that you all have in your future. Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to say thank you to my mentor Patrick, whom after speaking to him and realizing the amount of time and effort went into his GDC presentation, still went out of his way to take the time and mentor me. It really speaks volumes about the type of person he is, and I'm grateful to have been paired up with him. Through this amazing Scholarship Program, I was able to meet so many incredible people, and with those connections I was able to land my very ﬁrst job in the industry! There's just so many things to say, so many thanks to give, trying to spill my thoughts out here just wouldn't do anyone justice. I'll never forget this experience, and the IGDA will always have a friend, fan, and supporter in me. I don't know how I can ever repay you, but someday, I will. Oh and one more thing, Jack, you are sooooo Oprah!!! ;) THANK YOU IGDA! Billy Matjiunis
Hazel McKendrick As an aspiring games programmer attending GDC has always been an aim of mine, so I was surprised, excited and slightly terriﬁed when I heard I would ﬁnally get the chance to go. However, an IGDA scholarship offers much more than just an all-access pass to the world's largest gathering of games industry professionals. Meeting developers from all over the world is one of the biggest reasons to attend GDC, and as a scholar you're immediately in a great position to do that. Having exchanged advice, plans and ideas online with
the two dozen other students before we even met in person, I was in fantastic company during the week. On top of that, the support of an experienced mentor helped me to navigate the huge number of opportunities on offer. Our ﬁrst day was spent visiting several local companies. All of the developers we met were entirely welcoming, and it was really interesting to hear the perspectives of employees in three very different environments. A series of in-depth question and answer sessions at Double Fine with developers from a variety of disciplines was followed by a tour through the extensive and almost museum-like archives of LucasArts, ﬁnishing with an insightful talk on social games from Playdom. At the conference itself I spent a large part of my time at technical sessions, highlights of which included David Aldridge's talk on networking in Halo Reach, which really brought home the importance of tools and analytics; Jacky Mallett's talk on distributing computing for EVE Online which did a fantastic job of relating theoretical topics to practical application; and Erin Catto's talk on soft constraints as part of the Physics for Programmers tutorial–sometimes it's great just to hear how someone smart thinks through a problem. I learned a lot from the sessions themselves (and there are plenty more I intend to catch up with on GDCVault later) but meeting other developers attending them was perhaps even more valuable. The talks were interspersed by yet more events organised by the IGDA, including lunch with Zynga, viewing Epic's shiny new Unreal demo and meeting with developers from both Sony and Microsoft, as well as making time to explore the expo ﬂoor. Overall, GDC would have been an amazing experience in itself but with the opportunities afforded by the IGDA scholarship, it was life-changing. Huge thanks go out to Jack, Gordon and Sheri from the IGDA, my mentor Jeff Ward and all of the other scholars.
Sanghee Oh Perhaps you are just like me. An idealist who believes that games have potential to become something more than mere entertainment, just like any other articulated, established form of human experiences. You know you could contribute to the changes that will eventually take place, and you want to be a part of the force that will accelerate that innovation. However, the reality is that your ideal resides in the realm of ideas; it is the essence that fuels you to keep going, but it rarely rewards you with the recognition you crave. Your ideal may be shared by your classmates, but beyond your small, intimate circle, you donʼt know where or whom you can turn to in order to make your ideals happen. As a ﬁrst year graduate student, a newbie in the world of game design, I wasnʼt sure if my ideals and beliefs could be acknowledged in the industry. I am a woman, a foreigner, an outspoken feminist, and a former ﬁlm theory and experimental ﬁlmmaking student whose desire to tell stories is not quite aligned with the business world of popular videogame entertainment. I am not a proﬁcient coder, nor an award winning indie game designer (at least, not yet). I didnʼt know anyone in the industry, period. I felt pretty alone. Hence, the news of my being given an IGDA scholarship was an utter surprise. I poured my heart into the application essays, drawing a picture of the future where diversity is a new norm, but the truth is I didnʼt really think people would take it seriously. I was wrong. People in the industry did care about the future we as a whole are heading to. And they listened to my ideals. The IGDA scholarship was truly a privilege. Besides all the beneﬁts that came with it, from the allaccess pass to this yearʼs GDC, to exclusive game studio tours, to freebies generously donated by sponsors, what I found most profound and life-altering was that I met people who shared similar ideals. It was an honour to meet other fellow IGDA scholars who understood my internal conﬂicts and concerns as a young female game designer. Even after the GDC, we have kept in touch, and become a support
network for each other. I was also paired up with the most amazing mentor whose life experience and interests resonated with mine, whom still I talk on a regular basis. The scholarship also provided me a chance to meet and talk to some of my industry heroines, including Jane Mcgonigal and Christina Norman. Now I am back in school, but things have been changed. I donʼt feel so alone anymore. All thanks to IGDA, I feel strongly about my becoming a part of the industry and making positive impact; the insightful education provided by the industry people I talked to was most valuable, and now I am trying to have a female student-to-student mentorship program going within my program with assistance from the IGDA and connections I made during the GDC. I would strongly recommend applying for the IGDA scholarship to anyone who has hopes for changing the industry for the better. It could happen to you as it happened to me. And lastly, thank you Gordon Bellamy, Jack Bogdan, and Sheri Rubin. Itʼs been just…awesome.
Molly Profﬁtt $ Being given the chance to attend GDC was more than I could ask for, and when I applied for the scholarship I could not have dreamed of the experience I would end up having. Because of this opportunity I was able to meet Tim Schafer who is DoubleFine's brilliant game designer, tour LucasArts and Playdom, witness the announcement of Playstation's Move.Me, talk personally with university relations at Microsoft and Zynga, and attend the conference with an all access pass. This allowed me to peruse the many booths of expo ﬂoor as well as attend panels such as the Game Design Challenge where Jason Rohrer created a game about religion using Minecraft and Doom's John Romero created a game using Twitter to engage the audience. $ Being in the presense of so many amazing people was not only inspiring, but also extremely informative. I have never been given better industry advice than the advice I was given at GDC. One of the best parts of the scholarship program was that each scholar was given a mentor. My mentor Kevin O'Gorman helped me meet useful connections in Georgia even though we were states away from where I live. He also gave me answers to all the pre-conference questions any student would have, such as how many business cards to bring and what outside activites I should attend in order network. At the end of the week we met up and compared our experiences. By doing so I learned about seminars that I had missed, but he had attended and found interesting. Later, I am going to watch these in the GDC vault which is one of the other great advantages of having a full-access pass. So many panels and seminars occur simultaneously that it is impossible to attend everything you want to, but with a full access pass scholarship recipients are able to watch video recordings of these for an entire year after the conference! As advice to future scholars I recommend the following: - Make sure to have business cards at all times and that they include several ways to contact you. They should especially have your phone number and e-mail. Your business card will become as valuable to you as cash and is the only way someone can identify you beyond your time at GDC. - Keep a small notebook with you. I carried mine to every session and event I attended. Anytime I needed to write dow something important I had a place to put it other than just on the back of a business card or on my phone. I could quickly sketch little diagrams which helped me remember people and ideas.
- Attend parties and network outside of the expo ﬂoor and roundtables. Don't be afraid to let people know who you are! If you are concerned about doing this alone, bring another scholar with you. By doing this, both of you get contacts and can help each other. In addtion, stay in touch with the other scholars after GDC. They can become people with whom you want to work on projects with later or helpful reviewers of your games. - Ask thoughtful questions to anyone you meet and research the people you are going to meet beforehand if you do not know much about them. If i knew I was going to visit a company because of this opportunity, I made sure I had played their games before I went to GDC. Your experience will be so much more fulﬁlling if you already know the answers to the easy questions and can ask harder ones. This scholarship was a gift I will never forget and I am completely thankful to the IGDA for letting me have the chance to go to GDC in San Francisco. I will deﬁnitely attend next year and am convincing others to do the same! Whether you go to GDC as part of a scholarship or save up money on your own, it is impossible to put a price on the experience.
Samantha Vick When I ﬁrst got the news that I got the IGDA scholarship, I was excited, of course. I had been to GDC the previous year with an Expo pass, and I was acutely aware of all the amazing talks I was missing out on. I was excited at the prospect of getting a Main Conference pass. I had no way of knowing that the entire Scholar experience was going to turn out to be so much more than that. The organizers went way beyond reasonable expectation to deliver an experience that I'll never forget. Thanks to them, I was able to fulﬁll my childhood dream of visiting DoubleFine studios. I'm now ﬁnally able to put a visual to the place that's made so many of my favorite games. It was ridiculously inspiring to hear Tim Schafer talk about game design, and it renewed my energy in my own long-term projects. There were plenty of other amazing moments that I was able to experience thanks to the IGDA scholarship, but this was the one that stuck out in my mind as being something that I would probably have never been able to do without the awesome planning skills of Jack Bogdan, the program coordinator. $ If you have any interest at all in games, I highly recommend that you apply for this program. The other scholars were amazing people, and I feel privileged to have met them. IGDA is a great organization and I'm looking forward to getting more involved with them in the future, both as a student and after graduation.