You know, I’m not a huge conference person. I don’t really like PAX all that much. I honestly mostly go to see Giant Bomb, if I manage to even get a ticket. Tokyo Game Show is a bit too busy for me. Too many people in not enough space. I even went to Anime Boston a couple of times. Didn’t really like that all that much, either, besides from the shopping.
Wouldn’t miss that for the world.
I live for GDC. I go in worrying about if I even deserve to be there, and come back feeling ready to take on the world. GDC is my yearly reminder of why I chose to be in the game industry, of all of the possibilities and things I can accomplish. I’ve made some of my most difficult decisions, about going to Japan, about coming home, at GDC. I’ve met some of the most amazing people there, friends that have supported me in so many ways. I’ve been able to better define what it is I actually want to do with my career thanks to what I’ve learned there.
All because of a conference.
I feel like my GDCs have a theme to them. Last time, it was “Japan is not where I need to be right now and that’s ok.” It was a good and important thing that resulted in me making good and important choices for myself. This year, it was “I have a unique voice and I belong here.”
I felt it when I heard so many speakers, even during the awards shows, emphasize their support and commitment to making sure that everyone in the industry is heard, no matter how they identify, what their race is, where they’re from, or what they believe in.
I felt it when I wore my bright purple shirt as a Conference Associate, working alongside some of the most motivated, enthusiastic people in the industry.
I felt it when I spoke with women working at Unity and Riot, who encouraged me not to listen to the little anxiety monster whispering that I wasn’t good enough when applying for jobs, who told me that women like me are needed.
I felt it when I was told by the writer of That Dragon, Cancer that my small idea for a game was a story worth telling.
And I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes.
One of the most difficult things for me as someone in the beginning stages of my career is figuring out exactly where I fit in to the industry. There are already so many talented people with skill sets that are so much broader than mine, with more experience, that the challenge of getting into and actually making a difference within the industry feels insurmountable at times. But what GDC showed me is that, while it takes time, persistence, and hard work to have a thriving career, there is a spot for me here. I belong. And knowing that is all I need to stay motivated to keep going.