GDC – The Ultimate Professional Gaming Event

South by Southwest Interactive wasn’t the only big industry event that happened last week. At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2010 in San Francisco I join a sea of characters, in person
and on screen, as we all came together for our annual reunion in the City by
the Bay.  Animated is an ideal word for this event with an endless supply
of the latest game related sights and sounds to catch our attention.  To
add to the spectacle, I see that the Career Pavilion and the Expo itself are
housed together in one location this year so the floor is packed.  In case
you aren’t familiar with the GDC, it is the world’s largest professionals-only
game industry event and takes place every spring in San Francisco. The GDC
attracts more than 17,000 attendees including programmers, artists, producers,
game designers, audio professionals, decision-makers and others involved in the
development of interactive games gather to exchange ideas and shape the future
of the industry.  Game developers and artists who use processor, memory
and graphic intensive software are an obvious audience for our high-end mobile
and fixed workstations so the GDC is an important venue for Dell to showcase
its latest systems and related announcements.

Speaking of important
announcements, we launched the Dell
Precision M4500
at the show this week.  This
system really pushes the boundaries of performance and mobility and will allow
high-tech nomads to experience desktop class performance on the road – a common
destination for those developing, animating or showcasing their latest projects
and ideas to prospects.  Based on my conversations with attendees and
industry software partners, the feedback on the M4500 has been overwhelmingly
positive so far.  I heard comments from several artists who can’t wait to
see how the latest Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor and Nvidia Quadro FX 1800M
will boost their power hungry 3D applications like Autodesk’s Maya, 3ds Max and
Softimage – staples for this industry and Dell Precision certified partners.
As the Senior Manager of Strategic
Market Development, I manage the relationships with our key ISV, graphics and
other partners for Dell Precision. GDC is a great venue for planning,
networking and catching up with many of our friends who cater to the digital
content creation industry.  In fact, this year we are partnering with some
of the industry’s most prominent ISVs for marketing and PR activities.
For example, we are the exclusive workstation partner for Autodesk’s booth
and for their annual VIP event at San Francisco headquarters where they were
also showcasing another favorite, the Dell
Precision M6500
, our latest 17″ mobile
workstation.  Another industry leader and great partner, Dassault
Systemes, have their DCC focused company 3dvia at the
event and featured
Dell Precision desktop and mobile workstations in their booth to show off
their compelling 3D game development and simulation software.  It is also
a lot of fun to see and play Billions, the 1st complete game ever
built on 3dvia Studio.

GDC also provides an opportunity to learn about the products
our partners, competitors and other key players in the gaming industry are
launching this year.  A couple standouts I
noticed were the announcements and showcase of ATI
Eyefinity Technology for Gaming
and the live demos of the
latest Autodesk 2011 products which were running continuously in their booth and in
Autodesk manned kiosks at other booths around the floor.

Overall, the show references a clear
trend of software and hardware coming together to solve common user pain points
and creative gaps.  There is no shortage of the latest in handheld
technology in use and in booths indicating the casual gaming market is alive
and well.  On the other end of the scale, even though many of us are
becoming accustomed to mind blowing in game animation, the video reels and
games on display are nothing short of spectacular, and more prevalent than ever.
Motion Capture is quite popular with a whole new set of software,
hardware and clothing based tools to support these important workflows.
Art can transcend borders and as usual there is a globally diverse crowd in
attendance and the smattering of Macs from the artist types who are pretty
easily identified by their interesting fashion sense. But clearly the majority
of the software and hardware partner booths are PC and Windows 7 based and
there are a large number of Dell workstations being used to demo – which is
great affirmation from the people who truly know what it takes to power complex
software.  Perhaps most encouraging is seeing a turn-out and upbeat
atmosphere to match the incredible technology shown.  Of course with this
crew they tend to feed each other.

About the Author: Patrick Hannan