Trade Show Highlight: Game Developers Conference

The Game Developers Conference is the premier conference and expo event in the game development industry.  Having celebrated its 25th year in 2011, the GDC is the longest-running and largest “professionals only” gaming conference worldwide, with last year’s show boasting over 23,000 attendees.  The March 17-21, 2014 conference in San Francisco promises to be another exciting event where attendees and exhibitors will have the opportunity to form career- advancing partnerships and gain inspiration for future developments.

It’s Game Time at the Gaming Developers Conference

What started as a casual rendezvous among 25 developers nearly three decades ago has morphed into the largest and longest-running “professionals-only” game industry event. Now, the Game Developers Conference® brings together over 23,000 programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio experts, and business leaders together to discuss and learn about all things gaming.  For five days, these gaming enthusiasts take in informative sessions, lectures, panels, tutorials, boot camps and roundtable discussions.

The 2014 Game Developers Conference will be held from Monday, March 17 – Friday March 21 with the expo taking place March 19 – March 21. Gaming professionals from all industries have been showing up at the yearly event. In 2013, the breakdown of gaming pros came from the following areas:

  • Visual arts  and Game design
  • Programming / engineering
  • Audio Production
  • Business Management
  • Other

About the Conference: Tracks, Sessions & Who Attends

Trade Show Highlight: Game Developers ConferenceIn its infancy, GDC was primarily about computer games, though it has since expanded to cover a plethora of gaming platforms (in addition to computers) including:

  • Gaming consoles
  • Handheld devices
  • Mobile Gaming
  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Online Gaming

The GDC conference sessions are separated into seven tracks and eight summits to ensure that each session is jam-packed with relevant information for any gaming professional. Here are the tracks:

  • Advocacy Track
  • Audio Track
  • Business, Marketing, & Management Track
  • Design Track
  • Production Track
  • Programming Track
  • Visual Arts Track

On the opening conference days (March 17-18), the GDC’s summits will seek to promote building communities in various specific gaming industry sectors.  The summits are:

  • AI Summit
  • Free to Play (F2P) Design & Business Summit
  • Game Narrative Summit
  • GDC Education Summit
  • Independent Games Summit
  • Localization Summit
  • QA Summit
  • Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit

A typical gaming show attendee has about six years of experience and 10 game titles under their belts.  Just over half of the attendees at last year’s show reported that the Expo Floor was the main reason for attending. The top four follow-up actions were:

  • Visiting an exhibitor’s website
  • Sending an e-mail
  • Requesting more information
  • Downloading a GDC Session from the GDC Vault

Sessions, tracks, and the expo provide a fulfilling experience for attendees leaving them more motivated and better connected after the week-long event.

Who to See

Given the scope of the conference and expo, dozens of experts are available to sit on each panel.  The GDC session scheduler and accompanying app ( allows conference attendees to save a seat in the sessions they wish to attend, including the #1ReasonToBe panel, which features:

  • Brenda Romero, award-winning game designer, artist , writer, and creative director
  • Lauren E. Scott, game designer
  • Colleen Macklin, game designer, associate professor at Parsons The New School for Design
  • Anna Kipnis, Senior Gameplay Programmer at Double Fine Productions
  • Diedra “Squinky” Kiai, artist and storyteller behind Dominique Pamplemousse
  • Leigh Alexander: Editor-at-large with Gamasutra
  • Laralyn McWilliams, Studio Design Director at The Workshop Entertainment

Attendee Passes

Prospective attendees can register via online, mail, or fax.  Individuals or groups may register; groups that register can mix and match popular passes and save 10% off the total pass purchase.  Of the six types of event passes, there are five available:

  • All Access Pass
  • Main Conference Pass
  • Summits, Tutorials, & Boot Camps Pass
  • Audio Track Pass
  • Expo Pass
  • Student Expo Pass (available Friday only)

Each pass offers different levels of access into the event; costs vary from $195 (expo) to $2,100 (all access).  Show hours are 10am-6pm Wednesday and Thursday, March 17/18, and 10am-3pm on Friday, March 19.

Exhibitor Details

Exhibitors who wish to register for the expo need to log into Exhibitor Portal (just click on “forgot password” for first-time users) or contact for assistance.

The Standard Booth available to exhibitors is an all-black 10’ x 10’ booth with a back and sidewall drape and a table skirt; the discount deadline ends February 24.  Additional services for features like:

  • Telecommunication and Internet
  • Computer and audiovisual
  • Floral and plant
  • Security
  • Photography
  • Lead retrieval information

Where to Stay

GDC Convention Housing Partners is the official housing company and facilitates making reservations online via the GD SF 2014 link or at  Over 40 hotels are providing discounted rates for the conference.  Guests can book, modify, or cancel hotel registrations at any time (note cancellation policies vary by hotel).  Listed among the 40 hotels are:

  • Adagio
  • Chancellor
  • Courtyard
  • Grand Hyatt
  • Hilton Union Square
  • JW Marriott, Marriott Marquis, Marriott Union Square
  • Nikko
  • Weston St. Francis, Weston Market Street
  • InterContinental

The GDC is a premier event among game development professionals.  As the longest-running most high-profile gaming event, attendees and exhibitors are sure to make new, useful contacts that will elevate their careers and advance their collective and individual knowledge.

Northwest Creative Imaging, LLC (NWCI) is an online show trade show retailer with extensive experience in the trade show industry. NWCI offers a wide variety of high-quality trade show products suitable for any customer’s budget.  Additionally, NWCI provides comprehensive customer assistance and guidance before, during, and after a purchase.  In its continued support to customers, NWCI also shares information about upcoming tradeshow opportunities for its customers.

**Northwest Creative Imaging is not affiliated with the upcoming Game Developers Conference.**

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