East Coast Developers' Conference

Founding the Computer Game Developers’ Conference was one of the wisest and best things I ever did. However, there was always one problem with the CGDC: it was a local conference heavily weighted towards Bay Area people. A quick perusal of the published attendee list shows that fully 50% of the attendees come from the Bay Area; another 25% come from the West Coast. Indeed, less than 10% of CGDC attendees come from the East Coast. Yet, there’s a lot of activity going on back East. Fully 30% of the subscribers of this journal are on the East Coast. Clearly, there’s a problem. And indeed, one of the frequent requests the CGDC organizers get is to move the conference around the country.

So when Bob Alexander approached me to see if I’d be interested in helping him put together a conference for East Coast people, I was immediately enthusiastic. It’s something the industry has been needing for many years. So I agreed to help him organize his conference.

It was a tough row to hoe. Setting up a new conference is hard work, but it’s also fun thinking about new problems and issues. The East Coast has a very different collection of talents than the West Coast, so it was important to design the conference with this in mind. Moreover, I wanted to put together a conference that looked further into the future than the CGDC, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Exacerbating the problems was the short time frame we had to work with. Bob approached me at the end of July, and I felt that the ideal time to schedule the conference would be early November, so that left precious little time to pull the pieces together. He, Sally Plourde, and I all worked hard to get the operation up and running.

We pulled it off just barely. Registrations were lower than we had anticipated; only about 60 or 70 people attended the conference. On the other hand, that’s actually better than the first CGDC, which had 26 people. However, what we didn’t get in quantity we more than made up for in quality. This was one of the most rewarding conferences I have attended in a long time!

What made it so good was the high concentration of talented people in a small volume. I vividly recall a round table discussion on programmers, attended by Gordon Walton, Eric Goldberg, John Taylor, Neil Harris, and myself. When you put that kind of intellectual horsepower in one small room, the results are impressive. The discussion cooked! I learned an enormous amount in that one hour; gadzooks, I’d go again just for another discussion like that one.

The only sad note about the conference is that Bob Alexander lost money on the deal. Still, he’s enthusiastic about trying again next year, and with a full year to prepare, we should do a much better job. So all you East Coast people now have a conference of your own. Help make it a success!