GDC: How They Got There

Dakota State University is proud to announce that five of its students will have the opportunity to represent the university at this year’s Gaming Development Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California. The five students are, Andrew Koerner, Sean Daily, Zach Truesdall, Mariah Beem, and the Trojan Times’ own assistant editor, Mostafa Haque.  These students qualified to attend GDC through their participation in GDC’s Student Narrative Analysis Competition. This was the first time these five students ever competed in the summit, and for some the first time they had ever heard of it.

The students were asked to describe GDC for those who are unfamiliar with it.

According to Mariah, “It’s basically this huge conference where game designers get together and learn from each other through booths, conferences, and other nerdy game things. There are a lot of talks regarding information about how to enter the industry and how to make better, more diverse games. It is a really great opportunity for us.”

Sean added, “There are lots of games on display, and keynote speakers that talk about game design and industry related topics in general. The Game Narrative Summit is specifically about narrative design in games, naturally.”

The Gaming Development Conference, or GDC for short, is one of the world’s largest and oldest video game conferences in the world.  Over 23,000 people from the video game industry come together to learn from each other and exchange new ideas in attempts to try and shape the future of the industry.

In order to get access to GDC, the students competed and placed in GDC’s annual Game Narrative Analysis Review Competition. Students from the top game design programs in the country are asked to submit papers analyzing the narrative aspects of a game of their choice. These submissions are read, reviewed, and some of them win either gold or platinum awards, both of which grant free access to GDC.  Winners are chosen based on their understanding of game development and the promise they show.

Mostafa was one of three students nationwide to be a Platinum Award Winner. As his prize, he received an all-access pass to this year’s conference.  The other four DSU students were Gold Award Winners and also received an expo pass with access to three of the talks.  As such, all five students get the opportunity to present their work on the expo floor. As Sean describes, “We’ll be presenting our posters and papers to those who walk by our area in the show floor on Monday and Tuesday, and our papers and posters will also be added to their archive, both digital and physical.” When asked if they were excited, Mariah said, “Yes, very much so! All of my arrangements are made, and I am very excited to attend my first GDC.”

Mariah wrote her narrative review on Dragon Age: Origins.  She added that it is “Really easy to do a paper on something that you’re really passionate about, so I just let that carry me through it.” Zach wrote a paper elaborating on the success/failure of Dragon Age: Origins. For his Platinum Award, Mostafa wrote a narrative essay on Soul Reaver 2, the third game in the Legacy of Kain franchise.  As Sean pointed out, “Being a Game Design major isn’t a requirement to win, if you’re confident in your writing skills, heck, even if you’re not, give it a shot!”

On behalf of the Trojan Times and DSU, our congratulations to these students and best of luck in San Francisco.