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How useful was GDC 2016 for our Indie Mavens? Did they even go?

Indie Mavens weigh in on the big trends and overall usefulness of the show

How useful was GDC 2016 for our Indie Mavens? Did they even go?

It may have happened a few weeks ago, but GDC 2016is still fresh in the minds of those who attended it.

As one of the biggest events in the world for developers to meet up with others in the industry, forming friendships and working relations, it's understandable that people would still be talking about it.

But we wanted to know what our Indie Mavens thought about it, not only in terms of the trends they saw, but also what they themselves took away from it.

Those that managed to attend it, anyway.

To that end, we asked them:

  • What do you think were the biggest trends to come from GDC 2016? How useful was GDC to you as an indie developer?


Leanne Bayley Developer We Heart Dragons

I didn't make the pilgrimage this year.

From watching on Twitter it certainly looked like VR was the biggest deal, aside some party mishaps...

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

I'd second what Leanne says.

Kepa Auwae Business / Design RocketCat Games

I only go to GDC as a flimsy excuse to eat good Indian food at that place near the Marriott.

Though I didn't go for the past couple years because I figured out there's also Indian food in other places, like Boston.

That and I find it hard to justify going to both GDC and PAX East, personally, as they're close together and I like the public-facing conferences more than GDC. Maybe next year, though!

Dan Menard CEO Double Stallion

The most visible trend I noticed at GDC was the focus on VR.

There were tons of VR talks and VR demos that took up a good portion of the show floor. I'm casually interested in VR, but I haven't seen a 'killer-app' for it yet.

I'm casually interested in VR, but I haven't seen a 'killer-app' for it yet.
Dan Menard

The demos are very neat, but there weren't any that made me want to drop $600 on the equipment necessary and put up with the headaches and motion sickness it can provoke.

Being a 2D studio, we're sitting on the sidelines watching all the VR stuff play out.

It will be interesting to see where things are next year after early-adopters get their hands on the devices and devs start developing a language for VR games.

GDC was very useful for us this year. I went with my co-founder (his first GDC) and we had probably 25 business meetings scheduled with platform holders, publishers, etc. This provided us with a ton of feedback about the game we are working on and may lead to a deal down the line.

I was speaking for the first time this year on the advocacy track, and it was a huge relief to finally deliver my talk on cognitive biases. We went to a few sessions (most notably the Platinum Games talk explaining action games) and spent our evenings at parties.

Value for money?

It's my tenth GDC this year, and I've noticed that I consume the conference very differently than I used to. I spend the majority of my time meeting up with old friends and in business meetings. These activities generate opportunities for the studio and give us fresh perspectives on our games.

I don't go to sessions nearly as much as I used to. I don't have the time anymore, and I don't find them as useful as networking. I make sure to get access to the vault afterwards though, so I can check out any sessions that I missed.

We'll definitely come back next year because GDC is still the best place to make international connections with other developers and publishers. For Double Stallion, it was a very useful conference.

Tanya X. Short Creative Director Kitfox Games

I'm hesitant to comment on trends because I feel like, this year more than ever, I was in my own little indie corner.

The energy of GDC is infectious, but as I was still recovering from the launch of Moon Hunters the week before, I felt like I sat on a boat over a rushing river, being carried quickly forward.

I find GDC to be most useful in growing the circle of people around the world that I admire, trust, and who I can call a friend.
Tanya Short

This was my third year in a row speaking at the conference, and I hope others found my talk on procedural generation useful.

Every year, I find GDC to be most useful in growing the circle of people around the world that I admire, trust, and who I can call a friend.

This year I spent nearly all of my time talking with independent game developers, about techniques, markets, advancements, and (of course) Moon Hunters.

Life isn't long enough to collaborate with all of the great creators out there, but sometimes all it takes is one great conversation to open your mind and change the course of your life.

I think my favorite moments were the casual meet-ups on Thursday and Friday of game designers talking about models for generating dynamic characters and worlds.

So, I'd judge it useful in the long-term, even if I had little concrete to take home.

Some would call it growing your network, but I prefer to think of it as growing as a person.


Ric is the Editor of, having started out as a Staff Writer on the site back in 2015. He received an honourable mention in both the MCV and Develop 30 Under 30 lists in 2016 and refuses to let anyone forget about it.