GDC 2012: Day 3 – Top Hats and Talk-backs

Well, GDC is over for another year and for me, this one was a weird one. I don’t know if it was a lack of focus on my part, or the attendees’ bizarre need to wear attention-getting hats that got me down, but somehow things felt different. I swear, what’s with the hat thing?

Aside from men in kilts, the one thing you see too much of at game conferences are silly hats. In one day I saw a dude in a red velvet bowler, a guy in a pirate hat complete with plume, a girl in a tri-corn, and a slew of people in those stupid knit hats with the animal ears built into them, whose wearers are just asking to be doused with acid.

Without a chapeau of my own, I felt under-dressed. Then again, perhaps all these flamboyant hat lovers were all just trying to compete with game design icon, Ernest Adams, known as much for his ten-gallon top hat as for his published game titles.

Of course, me being me, I inadvertently insulted the man by not knowing who he was. Waiting for a session to begin, I looked up and saw the be-hatted Adams sit down a little in front of me. Having seen him and his top hat for years, I said, “Hey, nice hat,” whereupon he told me it was his “trademark.” I then asked his name and I think I got a weensy bit of annoyance back along with his answer, “Ernest Adams.”

Adams, pre-top hat days?

I had to look him up but then realized I’d seen his name on game design books and suchlike. Oops. Anyway, where was I going with that?

Oh yeah. GDC was weird this year. I just wasn’t as fired up about going to meetings as I usually am and I can’t say why. I didn’t even sit all the way through the yearly awards show, which I almost always do. Part of that can be attributed though, to the doof sitting behind me. Just like the fools who can’t stop themselves from talking back to movie screens, this guy seemed to think he was alone in the auditorium with the people on stage and had an obligation to respond to them.

They’d get up and deliver their spiels, say their thank yous, make their jokes, and he’d sit back there going, “Ooh!”, “Oh!”, “Hi!” or “Haha!” in a voice that could’ve been heard clearly over a jet engine. Then there was “Encore!”, “Bravo!”, “I’m impressed!”, “Yay for the drowned people!” and my personal favorite, “They let WOMEN on STAGE???”

It was just too much for me and I had to leave, but not before witnessing the triumph of the many deserving recipients (chosen from over 800 entries!) of the Indie awards (Yay, Dear Esther!)


Best Student Game: Way, The Way Team

Technical Excellence: Antichamber, Demruth Games

Excellence in Audio: Botanicula, Amanita Design

Excellence in Design: Spelunky, Mossmouth

Excellence in Visual Arts: Dear Esther, thechineseroom

Best Mobile Game: Beat Sneak Bandit, Simogo

Audience Award: Frozen Synapse, Mode 7 Games

XBLA Award: Super Time Force, Capy Games

Nuovo Award: Storyteller, Daniel Benmergui

Seumas McNally Grand Prize: Fez, Polytron Corporation

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