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GDC08: Dennis Dyack is worried about GDC

During the Game Developers Conference, was able to record interviews with developers in the guise of their weekly 1UP Yours podcast, one such episode was with outspoken Silicon Knights boss Dennis Dyack. In the episode on February 21, Dyack outlined his worries for the future of GDC based on the marketing spin put on the, "once sacred," developer gathering.

"I worry about GDC [because] how many talks are you learning something versus when somebody is trying to sell you a product?" Dyack asked the crew made up of editors Garnett Lee, Shane Bettenhausen, Bryan Intihar and former 1UPer Mark MacDonald. "Are we calling this the Game Developers Conference [or] are we calling it the Game Demo Convention?"

Currently the industries hottest topic is the suit filed against Unreal Engine 3 developer Epic Games by Silicon Knights and while Dyack never addresses that issue formally he did maintain a strong dislike for the method in which Gears of War 2 was announced. "When people are jumping out of smoke and telling you what's coming, I am not learning anything here," he said referring to Cliff Bleszinski's Lancer busting reveal of the November '08-bound sequel.

"We're running into a real crisis in some sense with GDC," Dyack added in the lengthy podcast, "If people are going to continue to call it [GDC] the next E3, E3 just exploded because there was no point to it ... I would hate to see that happen for GDC."

While no one has come out to agree with Dyack's specific points, others are echoing his concerns for the conference. During their first foray into podcast territory since leaving GameSpot, Jeff Gertsmann and Ryan Davis discussed the merits of a press presence at the show on the Arrow Pointing Down podcast. "I still maintain that they should not let press into this stuff [dev conferences like GDC and the DICE Summit ]," former GameSpot reviews editor Gertsmann said. "The whole reason there is stuff like the Game Developers Conference and DICE is so that developers can get together without the scrutiny of the press and talk about their trade and actually learn something." While he agreed, Davis added that GDC coverage was something he loved to see.

During the show Dyack reiterated that GDC, since it's inception, is supposed to be a meet-n-greet for developers to share best practices and ideas and not about sales pitches. "I'm so tired of going to GDC and seeing a talk where someone is trying to sell their game, where someone is trying to sell you their middleware, trying to tell you what the future of videogames will be as long as it's their world ... that is a big problem." Begging the question, is the press presence forcing GDC to take a turn into a sales convention much like E3 was?

Therein lies the rub. News outlets, such as us at X3F, cover these events because the public craves information on the latest gaming news. Videogame marketing is directed, mostly, to the enthusiast press who maintain a strong connection with their readers. While GDC does display a substantial amount of PR spin it also offers great ideas for people in the industry, such as BioShock lead Ken Levine's discussion on storytelling. The points made are very interesting, and we'd like to hear your ideas. So readers, what are your views on GDC coverage and the future of this industry event?

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