The 2019 Game Developers Conference is this month and I’ve already planned out everything I want to do during that week. As someone who has attended this event in the past, I know what to plan for and what to expect. However, for someone who will be attending for the first time, it’s a different feeling.

One should plan for it like it’s FanimeCon only with a more professional atmosphere (to some degree). Here are five important tips to know when it comes to planning for the GDC week.

4. Bring Business Cards

This one is a no brainier but so many people neglect to do so, always bring business cards. It may be the digital age but most people are not gonna connect with a rando on the spot. A business card says a lot about a person and helps weed out those who actually want to connect.

5. Plan Out Everything Now

Start planning everything you want to do during that week. This includes interviews, panels to attend, and events to check out. Every event and peoples free time will be booked quick, hence start planning. Plus you need to pace yourself given the amount of travel you will be doing.

Even though the main event is at the Moscone Center, there is a lot going on it’s going to be spread out across San Francisco. Getting around the convention center is already a hassle, it’s even worse one is unfamiliar with the venue. Next you need to take into account the numerous events spread across the city and be aware of how awful the traffic is going to be.

3. Attend Networking Events

Every venue in San Francisco is going to have some kind of networking event, mixer or after party during the week. You should find several and get your ticket or reserve your spot. Many will be listed on Eventbrite but also checkout MeetUp or the many gaming Facebook groups.

These mixers or events are the perfect place to meet new people and network with them. Given the many events happening, don’t waste your time with the free ones. You’re better going to the events that have a cover charge as they attract the people you want to network with.

One final important advice, don’t go buck wild at the open bars.

2. Get a Hotel Room

Time is important during this week. Even if you’re from the Bay Area, waiting in traffic or on the train is a total waste of time. It’s also unnecessary to cut the day short just to catch the last CalTrain. Hence, it makes sense to get a hotel room.

However hotels in San Francisco are expensive (even with the GDC discount), so get one for two nights. It’s best to get one for Wednesday and Thursday night and split the bill with a friend. Also, don’t go fancy since this room is only going to be used to sleep over night and storage for your stuff.

1. Set a “Me Time”

The Game Developers Conference may be a major industry event, but that is no excuse for holding back your inner otaku. At some point you just want to walk around the Expo floor and play all the games you see. There is nothing wrong with that and one should always set one day of the week for such a moment.

Friday would be the best time to do this since most people are ready to end the week. The expo floor is still gonna be exciting but easy to navigate since the crowd has died down. Also you could nab as much swag as possible since no company wants to haul it back to their office.

Have you been to GDC and have your own advice to give? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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