Pre-travel GDC-Europe/gamescom -12

Last year, I volunteered at “Game Developer Conference – Europe” in Cologne, and I’m happy to say I’ll get back this year!

Last year’s visit was really great. A lot of new people to meet and greet, loads of valuable presentations and my first impression of an international games fair.

It was probably the latter that left the strongest lasting impression. I had checked the prices before-hand, in an attempt to get my head around the cost-structure of marketing, and I noticed it was *expensive*. Like, a thousand dollars per square meter expensive. Just for the floor space. So when I entered the halls and saw giant monters with loads of empty space in them, I was baffled – how these guys could complain about risk and profits and spend this kind of money on empty space was beyond me (it later turned out those plazas was intended to hold a crowd, so it wasn’t so wasteful after all). And on top of that, it was 5-10 meter high structures, massive screens and speakers for trailers and of course dozens of computers for the games, gladly with multiple screens so the line outside the booth could watch. Add to that, I also knew this wouldn’t be re-used for other fairs, as I had asked a booth-person at GameX about it the year before. As a new, indie fellow who hadn’t seen the industry before, it was intimidating (and kind of awesome, in the true sense of the word). With the perspective given by distance, I still feel there must be a cheaper way to get your word out. Something smarter to do with a booth to grab attention than be bigger and louder than the next guy.

Before I went home last year, I spoke with a lad who had booked a bed in the room for the duration of gamescom which I and a friend had been staying during GDC-E, and he noted the prices had gone up threefold for the duration of the event. I didn’t think it was this bad at first, but reading about tent-towns setting up in the city of Cologne I understood he wasn’t kidding. After all, gamescom pulled a quarter of a million visitors to a city of a million, I understand if the hotels can’t take the pressure. And, missing out in it, I can see why they were visiting!

Perhaps needless to say, I started to get worried when the application for volunteering this year wasn’t up when I checked in early May. Or late May. Or early June. All room would be flooded if this kept up, and I refused to book rooms and travel I might not get to use.

But the application form finally got up, and I’ve got accepted. Which meant, looking for room wasn’t that easy. Checking the hostles, and even some available apartments (note: not the hotels – it’s way too expensive), and turns out every place is booked during gamescom! I may have found someplace now, but damn was it difficult. Lessoned learned – look ahead better than any bottleneck in your “pipeline” is if you want to do stuff as you want.