After posting my GDC Advice blog last week, I was a little concerned that it would across as if I was telling my friend, a sound designer, not to bother with hanging out with audio people as if that was somehow not worth his time. That definitely wasn't the case, so I thought I'd write a post clarifying what I was getting at.
This tweet from Damian Kastbauer is a good starting point:
It has appeared to me for some time that audio for games has a much closer, tighter community than any other discipline in the games industry. This means that outside of GDC, we're all sharing articles and talking shop all the time, all year round. This is great because it's nice to have comrades in arms who know what the struggle of dealing with design changes at the last minute is like (etc etc), and when an event like GDC happens, we get to take that online relationship into the real world and hang out for real! However, it also means that anyone participating in the audio community is well aware of the things audio people are talking about and the problems faced by us in development. In the case I (half-)jokingly mention above, talking to other audio people about scheduling won't change the situation. Talking to producers and designers could.
The reason I was encouraging Tom to seek out other conversations and relationships at GDC is because I think we need more ambassadors for audio! In a lot of studios, we're locked away out of sight by default, and it can be very difficult to demonstrate to the rest of the team the value audio can bring to a project. We've all worked with people who don't listen to the game while working (understandably), and often to the untrained ear, the difference between a refined set of assets/implementation versus something done quite quickly isn't immediately noticable or understood in the same way something like a new lighting system, or a new character model is. GDC is a great chance for audio people to have talks to other developers who are, I'd argue, more open than any other time to having discussions about how to make their games better!
When I attended in 2014, I was overwhelmed by the pure passion for the craft of making games that manifested itself around the Moscone for a week. All the stuff that gets in the way on a day to day basis, like meetings, deadlines, overtime, these things are all forgotten, and for a week, people just want to absorb and learn and grow. I feel that for sound designers and audio coders, as people who have a discipline that is somewhat hidden in the background (good audio is never noticed, etc), this is a great time to get out there and shout about it.
That doesn't mean you should forget about your tribe. Just go and recruit other people to join it!