GDC 2008

GDC 2008: Jamil Moledina: Probing the Mind of GDC, Part Two

Russ Pitts | 19 Feb 2008 16:00
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Yesterday we ran part one of our exclusive interview with Jamil Moledina, Executive Director of the Game Developer Conference, the five-day convention in San Francisco celebrating and serving the game industry.

In Part Two of our interview, Moledina waxes philosophical on GDC's move from San Jose, the maturation of the industry, media convergence and why anyone should care what Ray Kurzweil has to say.

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The Escapist: This is going to be the GDC's 2nd year, I believe, in San Francisco ... on a personal note, do you still regret the move from San Jose, or is it just, at this point, kind of inevitable, and San Francisco is maybe offering more opportunities?

Jamil Moledina: Well, there are two parts to this. And actually it's the third year we've been in San Francisco ... we did an experiment a couple years ago and went back to San Jose for one year.

But the two sides of it are ... the first side is that it was purely a pragmatic decision. So the city of San Jose is too small for the GDC; the convention center is too small, there are not enough hotels in San Jose to accommodate the attendees of GDC. I was booking hotels in Santa Clara and bussing attendees in from there to get to San Jose. So it was really untenable for us to continue to have the show there, even though, of course, there's a strong nostalgic connection to that city. We pretty much took it over, and the Fairmont bar was a major hub of deal-making right there.

Having said that, moving to San Francisco and occupying most of the Moscone complex, we have, to a certain extent, replicated the feel of the GDC campus; there's a lot of people walking between the buildings, the hotels right around the Moscone complex are buzzing with GDC deal-making happening in their lobbies, there's a lot more nightlife and activity, a lot of different opportunities for developers and publishers to have their own get-togethers. And San Francisco is a world-class city, it is a metropolis, something that lends credibility to the game industry to have its largest professionals-only industry event situated here. Plus, the mayor and the mayor's office are very supportive of the GDC, and kind of see San Francisco as the Hollywood of the game industry.

TE: Coincidentally, I have, and I know other folks have always kind of looked at the GDC as the adult version of the game convention. Do you think the current growth of the conference, and certainly the attention devoted to it, is a result of the industry as a whole maturing somewhat?

JM: I think that's a fair comment. A lot of people in the business started out as very enthusiastic teenagers tinkering away in their garage, creating very simple games, and are now running businesses. So there's a life cycle of game creation that takes place on an individual level that is now reflected in the event for those individuals.

Similarly, GDC has started out with a massive amount of programming content, and now we have one of the key clusters of our attendees is what we call the Maverick group, of people that have moved through the game development cycle of being kind of a grunt designer and working their way up to creating a game, then running a division and then kind of going out on their own and starting an indie label, and then getting their game on PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade. So, this type of life cycle is definitely reflected in the type of offerings that we have at GDC, and it's very perceptive that you should bring that up. It's something that we keep a very close eye on.

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