Friday, March 24, 2006

GDC 2006

I DJ'd at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose (California) last night, and then flew back up to New Brunswick today. It was a lot of fun, but next year I'm going to have to try to take a week off and go back so I can sit in on some of the seminars. Wow, there was a lot of stuff happening there!

GDC is an annual conference devoted to computer software programmers, or "coders." Quite often, I don't think the general public appreciates just how much work goes into creating software, and just how big an impact computers have had on increasing the standard of living and GDP in the past few decades. The coders are the people who make it all work, and although this conference is designed specifically for developers of video games, people who work in just about every branch of programming should find something of interest.

The show was very well organized by the ShoutCreative team ( After I played, Uberzone ( took to the stage, playing a set based on Ableton Live with scratching and live drumming. It was basically a breaks set with a lot of interaction and effects, and it was really enjoyable. If you ever get a chance to see Uberzone, do it. After seeing that, I realized that I've got to get myself up to speed with Ableton.

One of the craziest parts of the night was the fact that there were combot wars happening at the party. A "combot" is a specialized type of robot, built specifically for these matches. Basically, it's like a hi-tech version of smash-up derby, with remotely controlled machines that are about the size of Fat Forrest (my 110 pound black Labrador). Now I'll admit that I had never seen anything like this before, so I didn't know what to expect. Before the show, I noticed that there was a huge enclosed structure built for the competition, and I thought to myself, "that's a little bit over the top." After all, I thought this was more of a game than a sport (it's only a sport if you can lose an eye). Or so I thought.

Anyway, while I was playing later on, I could just barely see the combot arena from the stage, and at one point during my set I looked over just as two of the combots attacked each other. All I saw was large chunks of wood and metal flying about eight feet up in the air as a huge cheer went up from the crowd around the arena.

All in all, it was a very fun experience, although I don't think in general that the Americans drink nearly as much alcohol as Canadians do. The party had open bars everywhere, and if they had that kind of setup in Canada (complimentary drinks with a thousand people in the room), they would have needed truckloads of beer and liquor!