Top 5 Takeaways From GDC 2022

By Michael Simo  |   Last modified on April 7, 2022

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is a yearly event that brings together leading brands in the gaming industry to talk about trends in development and showcase new features and releases. One of the cool things about the conference is that it’s an excellent opportunity for gaming enthusiasts, aspiring game developers, and industry vendors to connect, network, learn and celebrate the achievements of the industry. In short, the event is less about vendors promoting technology and more about the people. 

Here are the top five insights from the first in-person(!) GDC in several years. 

1. Promoting safe and diverse gaming communities 

A recurring and important discussion was about the growing labor movement within the game industry. I learned that many organizations are implementing changes to accommodate a hybrid or fully remote workforce beyond the pandemic. There were also discussions about unionization and employees taking a stand against workplace harassment. Along those lines, Honeycomb’s CTO and co-founder Charity Majors also gave a talk about the era of the Great Resignation (more on her talk later—skip to No. 5 if you’re super curious). 

2. The future of gaming 

The future is virtual reality (VR) and the exhibits on display at GDC brought this to life. VR is all about the experience for players and this was directly represented in booth displays and stage sets. One presentation had a large padded stage rigged with lights and monitors, with software visualizing motion capture animation data. This data was being generated in real time by about 3-4 performers who were geared up in the motion capture suits and facial-tracking software. The power of this technology could result in things like live virtual action production (blending film and 3D engine assistance) to create a larger-than-life moment for gamers. Or virtual avatars that would allow real-time teaching in a game engine (body as controller input), making a 3D representation of themselves on a live stream or to be used as metaverse avatars.

3. Gamer Developers Choice Awards 

The Game Developers Choice Awards are the premier accolades for peer recognition in the digital games industry. Each year, the Choice Awards recognize and celebrate the creativity, artistry, and technical genius of the finest developers and games created in the last year. This was one of the events I was most excited for as I’ve personally been following the awards for about a decade, making the experience of being a live audience member super exciting. The crowd displayed support and excitement around many brand new, indie, and student games revealed throughout the ceremony. This, to me, encapsulates the spirit of GDC and the diverse attendees it attracts. You don’t have to be a top or well-known game to receive recognition for your accomplishments at GDC.

4. Honeycomb’s support for AWS for Games

Honeycomb released exciting news at GDC, where we announced support for the AWS for Games initiative. Gaming companies were one of the earliest adopters of observability tools because of their profoundly complex and distributed systems. Honeycomb makes these modern systems easier to observe because our datastore and query engine are purpose-built to detect patterns across billions of requests in under three seconds, even with highly unique and granular data where problems lurk behind any arbitrary combination of attributes. This unique advantage gives game developers fast feedback loops to understand how their code operates in the chaotic production world, where gamers expect peak performance all the time. This news is just another testament to the amazing work Honeycomb does with AWS and its impact on gaming companies around the world. 

5. Charity’s talk on happy engineers and happy players 

Charity’s talk focused on the social and technical strategies that excellent engineering, development, and operations teams use to be happier, more efficient, and more productive. What was most interesting is the intersection in which understanding player experience through observability tools like Honeycomb enables engineering teams to minimize downtime and better understand how their code behaves in the hands of real users. The result is happier engineers who aren’t frustrated from debugging mysteries—and happier players who aren’t having bad experiences like latency issues. It’s a win-win.

Hopefully, this recap gives you an idea of the learnings GDC provides attendees. It truly is the best industry event to learn, network, and talk about all things video games! I’m looking forward to next year’s event and can’t wait to see how Honeycomb and other vendors integrate more closely with developer and engineering teams in the industry to provide better player experiences. 

If you want to view more information about Honeycomb's previous presentations on gaming, check out this presentation,  “Observability Into Game Server Deployment & Performance Through Instrumentation.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Honeycomb can help your gaming team implement observability, I encourage you to book office hours with our Principal Developer Advocate and gaming enthusiast, Liz Fong-Jones.  


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