Guest post by Damian Kastbauer
Maybe you’re hitting the town early, soaking up the San Francisco ambience. If you’re not too busy exploring the Musée Mécanique or drifting away with the Wave Organ, drop by the DesigningSound.org meetup on Sunday afternoon and kick the week off celebrating the scene with some of the folks behind this incredible resource.
RSVP recommended but not required. Details here.
Sightglass Game Audio Podcast Meetups
Arriving bleary-eyed at 7am for coffee and conversation during the week at GDC is the best/worst thing you could do for yourself throughout the conference. Best, because the brew at Sightglass (7th & Folsom) is worth talking about for the rest of the year. They also allow a motley crew of game audio folks to ascend to their 2nd floor balcony and hold court and wax philosophically about the unfolding day’s game audio epiphanies. Worst, because 7-9am amirite? (I bet you don’t have anything else scheduled during that time though, do you?)
Lunchtime (Behind the Carousel on the Grassy Knoll)
Brown-bag your way behind the carousel on the corner of 4th & Howard to the concrete stairs for an informal gathering of folks bursting with inspiration. This is a chance to stretch out in the sun (hopefully), grab a bite, and soak up some of the knowledge folks have gleaned throughout the morning’s presentations or adventures. Some of my favorite memories have come from deep conversations shared by anyone and everyone who coagulates. (Bonus points for the mass carousel ride at the end of Friday’s lunchtime.)
This year marks the first Carousel Con, a micro-talk formatted conference that will take place simultaneously off in a corner of the area and will feature speakers sharing their game audio knowledge (in short-form 10 minute bursts) with a circle of interested people. Organized by Matthew Marteinsson, Mike Csurics, Fryda Wolff (and a little help from me), there will be buttons, ribbons, and opportunities for folks to walk up and submit a talk for a chance to jump on the stump and share your passions.
Tuesday’s Audio Bootcamp signals the official start of the Audio Track at GDC and is a powerhouse of professionals prepared to submerge the packed room in a comprehensive game audio master class. Matthew Lee Johnston kicks it off with an alarm call for audio developers in his talk titled “GREAT AUDIO DESIGN: BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY” followed quickly by Tomas Neumann (one of the audio programmers on Overwatch) breaking down “AUDIO TECH 101”. We’re then treated to a presentation by Steve Green, Lead Sound Designer and Music Implementor, which leverages his experience on ABZÛ titled “INTERACTIVE MUSIC APPROACHES”. This takes us right into the “LUNCHTIME SURGERIES” where tables full of bootcamp attendees have an opportunity to chat casual-like with all of the presenters while noshing.
The afternoon lineup has some wonders to share! Khris Brown gets the crowd revved up with “FIGHTING LEGOS: AUDIO CHOREOGRAPHY FOR BATTLE DESIGN” which promises to be a workout of vocalization sound, and then Matt Piersall will demonstrate “PERFORMANCE BASED SOUND DESIGN” drawing from his experience creating sound for AAA games. One of the forerunners of VR Audio, Sally Kellaway, will be speaking on “APPROACHING AND DESIGNING AUDIO FOR INTERACTIVE VR APPLICATIONS” and will be sharing experience gleaned from her time working in VR, and then Leonard Paul will bring his considerable expertise as a game composer and educator to explain “DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO GAME MUSIC”. Rounding out the day is Bonnie Bogovich and her presentation “PARTY OF ONE: HOW TO BE ‘THE AUDIO DEPARTMENT'”. All-in-all, a tremendous breadth of information from every corner of the game audio universe. All of these are absolute musts!
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IASIG Meetup @ Thirsty Bear (661 Howard St)
The IASIG continues to throw one of the best-attended parties during GDC at the Thirsty Bear. For over 20 years, the organization has been a lightning rod for technically-minded interactive audio folks and has been at the forefront of standardization and publications. Mingling with some of the finest minds after the first full day of the Expo Hall is sure to inspire some engaging conversations about some of the exciting things on the show floor. How do the new Nuendo 8 game audio workflows look? What fun is to be had with the new Wwise Authoring Application API? Is there a demo (and how long is the line) for the Valve “Steam Audio” Solution? This will be the first chance to dig deep after submerging in the newest offerings, and it’s a great group of folks to get down with.
Game Audio Karaoke (177 Eddy St)
Follow the sound of wild falsetto and pitch-perfect celebrity vocal impressions to the first official(?) Game Audio Karaoke night. Organized by Luca Fusi, this is exactly the kind of bonding experience you might be looking for after a long day of hustle and flow. Bring your setlist, jump in the cue, and sing your life!
17th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards
The glitz and glam of the Game Developers Choice awards Wednesday night is the hot-ticket to see all of the coolest indies and accomplished developers. With the comedy of Tim Schafer and wit of Nina Freeman celebrating Oscar-style across every game genre and specialty, it’s the perfect opportunity to soak up some paparazzi and party like a game developer rock star.
15th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards
The focus on Game Music and Audio makes this an event worth attending. A room full of folks all looking to honor the accomplishments of the last years game audio accomplishments: what could be better than elevating the art of audio to make you feel like part of something much bigger than yourself. This is a great feeling to cultivate because you’ll find that the conference is a great way to understand the role you play (or could play) in developing games.
SoVGA Meetup – The Hall SF (1028 Market)
Friday Night Foley
The School of Video Game Audio has been inviting folks for a final hurrah on the last day of GDC in what has become a final meeting before the explosion of a thousand tiny stars that signals the end. Wobble out from the lobby of Moscone one-last-time with people who will be reticent to let the good vibes and experiences go. It’s a time to plan for later in the evening, or for the future of game audio.
Cody Predum & Emily Meo are pulling together an open invitation to let loose on the streets of San Francisco as a wild pack of sound designers with portable recorders. I imagine hanging off fire escapes to capture the perfect squeak, cardboard box physics impact simulations, and plenty of camaraderie. Find them at the SoVGA Party and climb on board…and don’t forget your recorder!
See you on the other side!
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