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GDC 2017: What I expected, what I didn’t
By: LizCooper
Mar 15, 2017

GDC 2017 in my mind was going to be so much less stress than 2016 since NO BOOTH! I expected to get to meet so many people at a leisurely pace and take in so many more sessions. Did those things happen? How did my GDC17 unfurl? 2 main topics: learning and networking.

Starting with learning, did this happen? Yes, my god yes. I went to many fantastic sessions. I was both inspired and driven to connect with so many of the excellent speakers I heard. So this encouraged networking via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, sharing connections and ideas with so many so easily and effortlessly was fantastic.

I could not get to all the sessions I wanted to as they overlapped others, so I marked all them was done, and I am now working my way through the GDC Vault. The Vault is great, it is where all the recorded video and slides from the talks go after the show, so we can watch those we missed, review others we can’t wait to hear again and share with others those we think will offer them some value. The vault had both free content and paid, with All-Access badges at GDC you get a one-year subscription to the Vault. Subscriptions are also available a la carte on the website.

The energy I got from the sessions set my to-do list on fire; I felt like ideas were flowing freely. I felt driven to participate, should I speak? Get on a panel? Help with career day? Advocacy? Pretty soon I was overwhelmed. I felt like I didn’t have a place,  I was an outsider. Worse I recognized it was me putting me there. I was terrified, like a deer in headlights. Imposter syndrome from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds flat.

Being that Gamers for Good is currently publishing a charity fanart book to support mental health, I know this wonderful organization the book support, Take This helps folks like me by setting up AFK rooms at gaming conventions for just these sorts of times. So off I went in search of said AFK room. I was severely disappointed to find out there was not an AFK room at GDC. Noted to talk to Russ Pitts at Take This about that later.

Networking was rough for me this entire GDC; I could not find my place or what I do? So I was afraid to initiate. Little about me, I am a learner and a support. Meaning most of my professional career I have been a chameleon of sorts, learning skills for the current situation. This lack of hard limits creates the conundrum not of what do I do but instead I can do anything but what do I want to do?

I also was suffering my horrendous social anxiety, I am social media butterfly, and I love to help plan and run events. I’m great in those situations, socially if I have a job I’m great. Without that task to secure me, I can drift off, feeling alone and out of place.

This was something I did not expect from GDC this year, to feel out of step with the industry, to feel like I had something to prove. An overwhelming reminder of EVERY report card I ever received; I was not living up to my potential.

GDC2017 was an overwhelming wake-up call to focus my career path, to tackle my imposter syndrome and to advocate, but it would take me at least a week after the show to process everything and come to that 🙂