I am not a social butterfly by any means. Social caterpillar, maybe. But after a weekend at the Game Design Expo surrounded by people passionate about game design, I’m starting to grow quite fond of networking.
I prefer to think of networking as making friends. You never know when you might hit it off with someone or find someone who shares common interests and aspirations.
Sure networking can be incredibly intimidating. You’re almost guaranteed to run into awkward situations. But keep in mind that people are there because they want to get to know you. So be yourself, ask honest questions, and be an attentive listener. That’s all there is to it.
I can’t begin to tell you what an amazing experience the Game Design Expo has been. Meeting so many people so interested in game design makes me fall in love with it all over again. Here are my top five moments from the weekend:
5. Coat Checking
I was up at 5am Saturday morning. Why? So I could get to the Expo by 6am to help with setup and coat check. Volunteering to hang up people’s coats for 4 hours might not sound like the most glamorous job, but it allowed me to get to know a lot of the attendees and speakers as they arrived, ready and excited about the day.
4. VFS Open House
I think yesterday’s open house was one of the largest that the VFS game design program has ever held. Me? I got to help man the main VFS booth, meeting dozens of potential students interested in diving into the field of game design.
3. Steering the Rocket
I’d always been wary about moving up the proverbial game design ladder. It seems the better you are at designing game mechanics, the more likely you are to be promoted to manage people, relinquishing much of your creative power. However, Raphael van Lierop, game director at Relic Entertainment, assured us that leading creative teams just involves a different form of creative expression. Rather than building the rocket, you spend your time steering it, ensuring that the power and momentum of the team moves in the right direction.
2. Lunch with Angry Birds
First of all, my lunch at the Water St. Cafe was fantastic. Handmade gnocchi with prosciutto, prawns, and butternut squash. Doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, and I got to sit across the table from the makers of Angry Birds, arguably the most popular iOS game on the market. That wasn’t too bad either.
1. Net-Workin’ It
Like I said, I’m not normally a fan of networking. But something was different this weekend. The passion of the people at the Expo really put me at ease. Everyone was genuinely interested in game design and getting to know other game designers, both students and professionals. I’m incredibly lucky to be part of the game design field. I mean, I get to make games every day with awesome and creative people. What more could I ask for?