Monday, February 28, 2011

GDC 2011 Report - Day 1

I'm at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) this week. I'm not going to have much of a chance to post my usual, side-splitting essays about the metaphysics of morals or how limericks are really a ploy by the Communists to take away our collective bargaining rights. Instead, I will be posting about the conference itself.

I've been coming to this conference for... Um... Well, I'm honestly not all that sure. More than a decade. Maybe fifteen years? In that time I have only missed one conference (2006) due to a bad case of not wanting to spend the hundreds and hundreds of dollars it costs. In short, I know this conference inside and out and I know the interesting parts to report on.

You know, me. I mean, you don't want to hear about game innovations. You want to hear about how I had to stand in line for fifteen minutes to get a badge. (And then they pronounced my name wrong!)

Today, I want to talk about how my role as a game educator impacted my experience at the conference. In other words, what happens if you, a teacher, get spotted. Getting spotted by a student outside of class is one of the most difficult things for a teacher to endure. Thoughts run across your head like maddened warthogs:

  • Who the heck is this student?
  • Did he hate my class?
  • Did he recognize me, or can I sneak away?
  • Who the freaking heck is this guy?

Yeah, sure, sometimes the meetings are great. My father once ran into a student who happily told him how his class had changed his life. I don't get that. I just get the awkward meetings. I walk out of Best Buy and a student says hi. I smile and nod, knowing I had just failed him and worrying he was going to shoot me. You see, inside a classroom, I'm in charge. Students live or die on my word. I am a god. Outside a classroom, I'm just a weasely guy you had to listen drone on for a few weeks and then got a bad grade from. It's disconcerting.

Anyway, I was just spotted ten minutes ago. I went to ask where to recycle the giant mass of free advertising they hand you at GDC ("Do you want lots of money? Then spend lots of money on our product. Please!"). I went to a group of four volunteers manning a desk and asked where to... Um... Stick it.

After a moment, one of the guys said "Hey, I took your class!" I didn't remember him, but pretended I did. He told me how he was now a successful game designer. He mentioned he was in class with another student that I did remember (and failed). I nodded and smiled. I couldn't remember him and his career was going ever so much better than mine. I had to go to the bathroom and wipe myself down with moistened towelettes; it was just that unnerving.

In closing, a short suggestion to all past and future students: If you see your professor, don't make direct eye contact. I'm really scared of you.

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