Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

2 November, 2005

I get no respect
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:32 AM

Yeah, sit down and let me rant a bit.

I like to think of myself as a fairly effective speaker. This year I’ve given well-received talks at the GLS conference and the AGC. Some even go so far as to call the talks the best of the show.

So, what is it with the people choosing talks at the Game Developer’s Conference? Once again I look at the rejection letter and I have a Rodney Dangerfield moment.

It’s not for lack of trying, either. I’ve submitted talks for the conference for the past five years, trying to find something that they’ll find appropriate. I’ve offered to talk about game design, scripting languages, business issues. I’ve submitted lectures, panels, and even a roundtable. Nothing.

Of course, the wonderful system for reviewing talks gives NO feedback whatsoever. Was my talk too elementary? Not deep enough? Not organized enough? Do they hate me personally? No way of knowing, just get the rejection letter in the mail every year about this time and my wondering why I get no respect.

It boggles my mind, because I thought I had some sure-fire talks. Last year I organized a panel with myself, Daniel James, Andy Tepper, and Dr. Cat talking about the economics of running an indie online RPG. Got rejected, but the panel showed up for the MUD-Dev conference that year and was a smashing success. (Interestingly enough, Daniel James and Andy Tepper both had talks at this year’s GDC, though.) This year I submitted a proposal for a roundtable on starting and running a game business, a topic that a book publisher has been falling over themselves to have me help co-author and edit. Not good enough for a talk at the GDC, though.

The only time I got to speak at the GDC was when I got put on a panel at the last moment due to a cancellation. The panel wasn’t all that interesting for various reasons, but I’ll not go into that right now. Of course, the panel got a very negative rating with comments like, “Have successful companies speak next time.” I figure this is probably the attitude of the people reviewing the talks: “Some loonie calling himself “Psycho”-something working on a game that’s barely a footnote of history? What could he possibly know?”

And, yeah, I know the system is highly political; people that have spoken before seem to get preference, and they like to rely on tried-and-true talks instead of getting new blood in there. For example, most of the years I’ve gone to the GDC the online RPG based talks have been dominated by Raph. I enjoy Raph’s talks, but it wasn’t until he decided that he wasn’t going to give virtual world themed talks one year that we finally saw some new people talking about the subject.

To be honest, though, I’m not really too upset about it even though the topic makes for a good rant. The GDC has slowly becoming irrelevant for people in the industry for a while. People rarely go to the conference for the talks, which they know are mostly recycled from last year. It’s all about the networking. And, I’ve found a way to get into the conference for free, so I get my networking in just fine. I much prefer smaller and more intelligent conferences like the GLS conference or the AGC.

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  1. You’re not missing anything. I didn’t bother going to the last GDC when the one before was literally rehashed from the previous year.

    All GDC was good for was the parties and, well, Austin does parties better.

    Comment by Scott Jennings — 2 November, 2005 @ 6:26 AM

  2. I got rejected year after year until I was asked to fill in on a panel in an emergency. I apparently was energizing enough to get… roundtables. I now submit a speech and a roundtable every year. This year, my roundtable was accepted. No word on the speech yet, but I’m not optimistic.

    This would be less annoying if I didn’t go to so many mediocre GDC speeches. Raph and Will Wright get repeat speeches because they’re engaging every single time. Other speakers that get invited back – for many of them, I don’t get why.

    Comment by Damion Schubert — 2 November, 2005 @ 10:06 AM

  3. Yeah, this year’s submission was for a roundtable on starting a business, still got rejected.

    I live in the area, so I’ll still attend. As I said, I have a way to beat the system, so I use that instead of speaking. Just boggles the mind that after getting a lot of kudos about my other talks, the GDC still doesn’t deign to give me a slot.

    As I said, I’m not too upset over it all. Scott’s right, it’s not all that useful except for networking.

    Comment by Psychochild — 2 November, 2005 @ 1:15 PM

  4. You guys don’t give me much hope for having a good time at GDC this year. It will be my first and new things are always exciting.

    Note: When I say “good time” I mean “Hear interesting things, learn, and report.”

    I have a fire pit, redneck neighbors, and about 30 beers left over from the Halloween party, I don’t need to fly to get drunk.


    Comment by Grimwell — 2 November, 2005 @ 2:19 PM

  5. Grimwell: especially if you’re interested in the MMO side of things, definitely go to AGC before GDC – in fact I’d say as a press/outsider GDC is pretty much completely irrelevant. The booths are 50% yawn and 50% companies recruiting (I heard it was more like 75% recruiting booths last year though), the talks are all variations on the theme of “This Is How I Justify Six Figures For My Role On This Console Game” with some exceptions such as Raph and Gordon (both of whom also tend to recycle their talks – which is only fair, few listen the first time judging from the state of the industry). Really I’d only recommend going to GDC if you’re looking for work. And if you are, expect a lot of competition, because everyone else there is, too.

    AGC on the other hand has mostly online-related panels which, while often self-referential are still worthwhile especially if this is your first show. You can meet pretty much everyone in the MMO industry – the only noshow this year was Blizzard, I think, and that was probably because Blizzcon was the same day. But I always got the impression Blizzard mainly went to trade shows so that people could touch the hem of their cloak worshipfully anyway. The highlight though are the raucous after-show parties, where the gaming industry basically takes over several bars on 6th Street and bends them to its iron will. I spent a good part of one night with the guys at Cornered Rat screaming at the top of our lungs about how the state of the art sucks. No, really – I was hoarse the next day.

    Comment by Scott Jennings — 2 November, 2005 @ 2:34 PM

  6. LOL! I don’t care what you say, that right there is funny.

    Comment by Sachant — 2 November, 2005 @ 3:23 PM

  7. Personally, the independant MMORG panel presentation was the best presentation I attended during the 2004 AGC. The whole thing felt much less corperate than the speakers from NCSoft, EA, and SOE. I really regretted I missed the MMORG rant during the 2005 AGC.

    Comment by Bobby Thurman — 3 November, 2005 @ 7:47 AM

  8. Talk about no respect! I see Lum at Dave and Busters, say “hello” and he doesn’t even remember me.

    AGC was very meaty for me, was also my first. I’m still digging out from the notes and recordings my team took while we were there. I even enjoyed the Writers and Womens conferences seminars.

    Comment by Grimwell — 3 November, 2005 @ 11:37 AM

  9. FWIW, my proposed lecure got rejected this year too. :)

    Comment by Raph — 3 November, 2005 @ 2:27 PM

  10. So, you’re not speaking at all this year, Raph? What was the rejected lecture about?

    My major complaint is that I wish there were some feedback on the process. I propose what I think would be really great talks. If I knew what were “wrong”, I could adjust my talk a bit.

    Ah, well. That’s life.

    Comment by Psychochild — 3 November, 2005 @ 2:44 PM

  11. Don’t feel so bad, I got rejected this year as well. It’s actually my first time being rejected, but I actually considered it my best proposal yet. For the last several years I’ve done stuff on interactive/adaptive music, this year I went for latency management (real-time melee combat in high latency environments). The funny thing is that I’ve only ever spent about 10% of my time working on music in games; most of my work has been in art, tools, design and engineering..

    Comment by Jason Booth — 3 November, 2005 @ 7:55 PM

  12. You should post the talk up on your blog, Jason. It sounds very interesting from what you’ve described before.

    Comment by Psychochild — 3 November, 2005 @ 11:03 PM

  13. But what about the MUD Dev conference? I went to it 2004 and it was lovely. Will it ever happen again? I want that. In that case the trip to the states would be worth it.

    Comment by mirjam — 4 November, 2005 @ 8:27 AM

  14. The main organizer of the MUD-Dev conference, JC Lawrence, has been very busy lately. I’ve had a lot of people asking about the conference, so I’ll pass along your inquiries and let him know the conference was missed. :)

    Have fun,

    Comment by Psychochild — 4 November, 2005 @ 2:34 PM

  15. Jason, I would love to read your thoughts on real-time melee combat in high latency environments.

    Comment by Wonderbrick — 14 November, 2005 @ 3:11 PM

  16. I once read something a player who loved Meridian 59 once wrote, and I will never forget it.

    I think that’s what matters.

    Plus, yer a fun and likeable guy (and you can even make me laugh), and that alone makes you almost totally unique in your industry.

    Hmm, that’s prolly why those brittle manhags hate you ahaha.

    Never heard anybody impressed with all these other dudes ‘cept devs, so they’re worthless to me.

    As a matter of fact, I think they should be begging you to join YOUR club.

    Oh, sorry if I’m getting you in trouble with those guys you look up to, but seriously, who the hell cares about that ahaha.

    Comment by Ole Bald Angus — 15 November, 2005 @ 1:10 PM

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