How to prep for the Game Developers Conference

So the Game Developers Conference has come and gone. Those of you who are setting your sights on it for next year should be preparing and getting things together so that when you do head out there, you’re rarin’ to go.

Here are some things you’ll definitely need just to start off:
  • A backpack or bag of some sort
  • A folder for papers
  • Lots and lots of resumes
  • Business cards and business card holders. One holder for your own cards another for  cards you recieve from others
  • Gum (it comes in handy for you and it could be an ice-breaker)
  • Writing implements (pens, pencils, highlighters, sharpies, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer (this is vital for avoiding the Convention Flu since you’ll be shaking numerous hands)
  • Spare pad of paper for notes
  • A cheap lighter (people smoke and go out for smokes a lot, if you have a lighter on you, you can give them a light as an ice-breaker, even if you don’t smoke)
Now that you’ve got your survival gear in order, there are some things you need to be ready for as far as dealing with recruiters and events.

If you’re an artist, have a portfolio, whether it is digital or physical. You’ll need to show this to some recruiters, and it gives them an on-site idea of who you are and what you can do. It’s better than a resume, but have that too so that you can hand them that with your contact info on it as well as a business card.

Regular recruiters are seeing hundreds of resumes a day, so don’t take it personally if they don’t seem thrilled to talk to you. If they make notes on your resume, keep an eye out for it.

Often times, the person at the booth is not the right person to talk to. You’ll be talking to a technical recruiter, marketing rep or even just another employee of the company instead of the head of the specific department you’re interested in working in. Always, always, always ask who you should be talking to directly in reference to your position. Never settle for a roundabout way of getting there. Always be direct.

Get everyone’scontact information. Seriously, if you talk to them, get their info. Even if they’re just trying to get a job like you. You never know when it will come in handy to know a programmer or an artist. You may be working on your own projects some day and knowing a lot of people will be good for you. Not only that, but contact info for recruiters is great and if you establish a relationship with them, you’ll be on their mind a lot if they’re looking to fill a position.

Be prepared to get turned down. I know it sucks, I know it’s hard and it’s not what you want to hear. This is a big industry and you’re at an event that is full of other potential candidates. Just because you got face time doesn’t mean they’ll remember or recognize you again.

This brings us to the next important thing to do. Contact every single person you got a card from after the conference. Don’t do it during the conference because they won’t be looking at their emails and they’ll be super busy. Do it afterward, at least the Monday after or middle of the week. Some people won’t be back in their office right away and others might be taking some time off, especially if they got sick. Don’t anticipate a quick response either. You won’t be the only one doing this and they’ll have quite a backlog to get through.

If you have the chance to go to any networking events or afterparties, try hard to make time to attend them. You’ve got to be up to the challenge, though. They’re high-energy events and crazy fun, but if you’re not feeling it, it will show and people may avoid you as you could be a party-pooper. Networking events are great for meeting other industry folks and establishing a more personal friendship. This will help again as they’ll keep you in mind for positions later.

Remember that old phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” That is true nearly 50% of the time. Of course, if you’re not good at what you do, they’ll never refer you. But, if you’re good at what you do and they know you, you’ll have a better shot.

This is a lot of information and could be a little daunting to people just looking to enjoy the conference. Don’t worry, you’ll have fun. But if you’re looking to work it and try to get some good contacts and a job, these are some basic tips for you all to know and utilize.

Good luck!