Desktop/laptop users: please click here if you do not see a Nav Frame at left
 Mobile users: tap here to display only this frame.

FAQ #54:

Originally written August, 2005. Latest update June, 2011.

So you're going to GDC (or any other game industry event)! Good for you. And you wonder what to take with you, and how to act when you get there. OK. No problem.

What These Events Are About

The industry pros who go to these events have their own agendas, their own reasons for attending these events. And those purposes or reasons vary depending on the event and on the individual...

They're most likely not there to meet wannabes and hand out cushy dream jobs.

I wrote in detail what E3 is about - what GDC is about - what TGS is about - what MGS is about - in Article 6 and Article 46. Go read those articles, then come back here before continuing.

What Do You Hope To Accomplish

Okay, I know. You want to get a job. You want to sell your "Ultimate Idea". You want a break. You want everybody to understand how brilliant you are. That you're not just the usual wannabe - that you're special - that your Mama knows this, but nobody else seems to get it.

Guess what, though. Networking can help you achieve these things... only indirectly. Ya gotta be sub tile!* Ya can't waltz up to a game biz pro and say, "Hey, hi, can I have a minute of your time? I'm not the usual wannabe! I'm special and even my Mama would tell you, if only she could be here! Let me knock your socks off with my Port Foal E-O!"

No. That's not how to network. And guess what. That's why you go to these things... to "network."

So. What the heck is "networking"?

Forget "Get A Job"

At GDC, lots of companies do set up hiring booths. But they've heard it all before. (You think other guys' mamas don't think their little boys got smarts too? Think other mamas' little boys' don't gots no port-foal-E-O's? Gimme a break!) The chances that you'll come away from GDC or E3 or whatever, with a job offer, are slim indeed. But there's still a lot you can accomplish.

Forget "Sell My Ultimate Idea"

At E3, producers and submission managers routinely hold meetings in which they listen to pitches from excited folks from all around the world about the great game ideas they have. If you are reading this, trust me -- you would not believe the sophisticated pitches those guys are going to be hearing. The chances that yours is going to win over all those others are very low. Have you read my FAQ 1 and my FAQ 11 and my FAQ 21 and my FAQ 31 and my FAQ 35? I'm not saying you shouldn't dream of pitching your idea. And I'm not saying you shouldn't pitch your idea at a huge industry event like GDC... What I'm saying is, if you're still a raw wannabe, you should continue reading.

Where To Network

E3 can be hard to get into (or expensive to get into) unless you're an industry professional. But E3 isn't the best venue for networking anyway, unless you're an industry professional. GDC (Game Developers Conference) is the best, and there are numerous other game conferences that occur, not only in the US but also in Europe, Southeast Asia, Korea, and even China. PAX, for instance, and South by Southwest (SXSW). There is also the IGDA. The "I" stands for "International," get it? International Game Developers Association...? The IGDA has local chapters that provide opportunities for you to network in your area. If there isn't a chapter in your area, you can start one.

To read more about conferences and trade shows, see FAQs 6, 33, 46, and my Game Biz Links page (use the nav frame at left). And use Google and Wikipedia. To look up IGDA chapters, go to

So What Are These Events About?

These events are opportunities for you to network. To meet people. To just shake their hands, collect their business cards, to maybe say one or two sentences about yourself, but mainly to talk, to listen, to show your face, to see others' faces, and mainly... to learn.

"Learning" - Sounds Boring. BUT...

If you are just a raw wannabe, admit it. Say these words aloud: "I am just a raw wannabe." Go ahead, say it. I'll wait...

Okay, now repeat after me: "I still have a lot to learn."

That one is hard to admit, isn't it? I mean, GEE! You've graduated from high school. You've graduated from college. You've been trying very hard to stifle your impatience so you could begin your career. Impatience is normal. Especially today. I mean, this is 2005!! The internet age. We have smartphones now. And our smartphones aren't just for talking on anymore.

Right. And it'll all happen, like, y'know, next week or sumthin'. Look. You are not a nerd, right? I mean it. Nerds are smart. (^_^)

Um... Whatever.

Sorry... Just a little splash of cold water. We return you now to your regularly scheduled program.

How To Network

There are just two things you are going to accomplish (short term) from networking:
1) You're going to collect business cards.
2) You're going to make your face visible to the folks you meet.
3) You're going to listen. (I lied when I said there are two things.)

That's it. That's all there is to it. Hey -- it's easy.

To GET a business card, all you have to do is to GIVE a business card. Worst case: the other guy will say, "Sorry, I ran out." If that happens, well, too bad. That's what happened. Deal.

To make your face visible, all you have to do is be there and say "hello." I mean, does it get any easier than that?

To get somebody else to talk, all you have to do is ask a solicitous question. Do not try to talk about yourself. Just ask them something about their current projects.

How To Get Folks To Take You Seriously

This, too, is really easy. All you have to do is to not do a typical wannabe trick. Do not talk about yourself. Do not say you need someone to give you a break. Do not ask for a job. Do not ask them to look at your portfolio. Do not force your résumé or demo disc on anyone. Instead, try this...

Wrong: "I really admired that game you produced. I'm looking for a job."
Right: "I really admired that game you produced. What was one of the biggest challenges on that project?"

Wrong: "Whoa, you worked on that game? Cool! Got any advice for me?"
Right: "Whoa, you worked on that game? Cool! I was wondering, was that all developed at your location, or was it external?"

Wrong: "Can I have your business card?"
Right: "Here's my card." (He'll give you his in return.)

It. Is. Really. That. Simple.

If you meet a "hero" -- somebody whose name you've already heard, or whose games you have played, then read the above. Then read it again. Then read it a third time. Got it now? Are you sure? Get down on the floor and give me 50 push-ups. Then read the above a fourth time. NOW DO YOU GOT IT???

Dress Code

Wear (1) shoes, (2) shirt, and (3) pants. Not clear enough? How about this...

1) Shoes - Note that flip-flops are not shoes. Sneakers are. Socks are optional, as long as the casual observer can't tell whether you're wearing socks or not.

2) Shirt - Don't wear one of those muscle-man fishnet things that let your nipples and shaved chest show through, OK? Something that covers your nipples, and something that prevents anyone from finding out whether or not you have chest hair, would be just great. Regard this as a personal favor. PLEEZE! (Note to females: the foregoing was addressed primarily to males. But try to use good judgment - playing the sex card is not recommended. We're nerds. Nerds are smart. If you're playing the sex card, a lot of us can see through that one. Doh! There I go with the "see-through" thing again...)

3) Pants - Pants should extend from your waist down to the tops of your shoes. And your pants should not have holes in them. Your underpants (your "U-trou" if I may use the vernacular of my youth) should not be visible in any way whatsoever. Regardless of your gender.

4) Neckties - Please! Are you kidding me??? A necktie??? What planet do you live on, anyway???? And where the heck do you get off adding a #4 when I specifically only mentioned three articles of clothing??? Do not wear a necktie to a game industry event, unless you aspire to be in marketing, or unless you want to specialize in game law or something. Trust me on this. I wore a necktie to CGDC back in what, 1987 or something. And I've regretted it ever since. Do you need it in Morse Code or something?

-.. ---    -. --- -    .-- . .- .-.    .-    -. . -.-. -.- - .. .

What To Do With The Business Cards You Collected

Maybe nothing. Maybe email the guys or gals you met at an industry event 2 or 3 days later, just to say, "Hey, it was a pleasure to meet you at [name of industry event] in [name of city where industry event occurred]. If you are at all interested, you can check out my online portfolio at [URL of your online portfolio]. Hope to see you again, perhaps at [name of next industry event you might attend] in [name of city where said industry event is scheduled to occur]."

That's all. Anything more than that might be legally considered to be "stalking." (^_^)

And that's all there is you need to know about networking for now. If you have questions, email'em to me and I'll respond on my bulletin board. Hey, you already know how to find my email address, and how to find the internet address of my bulletin board. (Hint: if you don't, then give up right now - you have no hope in hell of ever working in the game biz.)

* "Sub tile" = "subtle"... only in a not-so-subtle way. It was a play on the word, sort of playing on the fact that subtlety is totally being ignored in the way I wrote the word. Get it? Do I need to explain it more? (If I do, then I am truly sorry, but you are not cut out to be in the game industry. We in the game industry is nerds. And nerds be smart. Sorry, but that am the way things is. Are. Do. Doo-doo... Whatever.)

* * *

Additional reading on the topic of networking:

  • From GameCareerGuide: top events and organizations you'll need to know when starting a career in the game industry.
  • IGDA/The Games Game, March 2006 - "Planning For A Successful GDC" (click Archives).
  • IGDA/The Games Game, February 2007 - "Focus On Connecting/Listening" (click Archives).
  • Darius Kazemi's blog entry on effective networking.

    Got a question or comment about this article? Email your comments to - you'll get a response on the Sloperama Game Design bulletin board. Like, for instance:

    Click here to go to the previous article.

    Click here to go to the next article.

    Click here to return to the School-A-Rama main page.

    Updates to these articles are logged at log.html.

    © 2005-2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.