First things first - why should you even care? (And a few other questions answered)
Video game conventions and game dev conferences are gatherings of people who are into video games (duh ;) ). But, more importantly, lots of those people come there to make new business connections and find friends in the industry.
And that's where you (and we too, not gonna lie) come in.
What is a networking event?
A networking event is more or less a party, simply put. It is a party where the guests focus on making new friends and talking about their shared industry, rather than raving to loud techno music, but a party nonetheless.
Enjoying yourself and getting involved in a conversation with new people about the topics that drive you forward and inspire you as a dev is a sweet spot you should aim for.
Career networking in the game industry - how to have fun and boost your opportunities?
There's no easy way to say this - you're gonna have to talk to people you don't know. But that's the fun part! It might not seem easy at first but remember - these people share your passion and are into (mostly) the same things as you.
They'll be glad to get to know you, talk about fun projects you're all working on or the games you play. All you have to do is walk up to them and introduce yourself. Act normal, don't be fake, and try not to come off as "too salesy". The rest will follow naturally. Most game development conferences make it even easier by organizing special networking meetups or rooms, so look that up!
Try to remember to get their contact info too that comes in handy in the next step.
And since you all love lists so much:
Do your research about the event.
Check what companies will be there. Will there be any meetup rooms? Check who of your friends is coming too - they can be a great starting point when meeting new people.
Planning in advance will allow you to get the most out of your time there.
Schedule some meetings in advance.
This might sound a bit awkward at first, but remember that this is what networking is all about (meeting new people, not the awkwardness). Be honest and up-front about your purpose, even if you just want to chat and get some pointers about the industry. Start with people you know, but don't be afraid to reach out to new ones too!
Try to stay on track while in a meeting.
It's tricky. You're meeting someone that shares your passion for video games, and not only that, but they might also be interested in the same geeky design aspects of the industry. But, on the other hand, it's super easy to lose track of time. You might end up spending your entire meeting talking about that last DLC to your favorite 4X strategy or the newest nerf of that overpowered character. And that's great!
But be sure to also ask the questions that you want to be answered. Think about them beforehand, and don't be afraid to use a notepad for help. This is what really matters, and it shows your professionalism.
Don't worry, you can chat plenty at the afterparty :)
Stay hydrated ;)
Pretty self-explanatory. Drink plenty of water to keep at the top of your game and stay healthy. You'd be surprised how many people forget that.
We got you, fam <3
Exchange contact info - you want to stay in touch with them
Last, but probably most important - to build lasting relations you need to, well, have some actual means of contact. After a nice talk with a new friend, offer to exchange your chosen means of communication. Of course, email is the easiest and most common one, but it can sometimes be a bit formal due to its nature.
In gamedev, many people choose Twitter as their weapon of choice (if you don't have an account yet, it would be a good idea to start one soon). But, of course, you don't have to. Some people still stick to good old-fashioned Facebook, or if you're digging the other person's vibe and feel like you would make a good team, exchange Discord too.
A bit below, you'll find some solid advice on what to do after you've gotten someone's info :)
What to do after a networking event?
Don't overthink it, don't overanalyze. You've met some people and made friends. Lean back, take a moment to think about each of them and what you talked about. Those details might come in handy in the future - it will be much easier to strike up a conversation next time you meet!
How to write a follow-up after a networking event?
So, you've talked to some pretty awesome people and made some friends? Great!
A good practice is to text them a short follow-up after the event to make sure they remember you even better.
Introduce yourself, mention some of the things you talked about, offer to stay in touch. Adjust the tone of your message depending on who you're talking to. (You probably want to keep it a bit more professional when emailing the CEO of your potential future company but stay friendly).
A good point of reference is how you felt during your talk offline. If you were cracking jokes together, you can safely assume it's okay to keep light language in your messages. If you felt that the relationship you were building was a bit more professional, that's okay too. Some people prefer having colleagues rather than friends. Still, one of the (many) upsides of being in the gamedev industry is that we're pretty chill. So don't be afraid to be chill too 😎
Let's get down to business - what are the juiciest game development conferences that offer opportunities and fun?
Ready to show your new game to the world? Great! Consider the conferences that attract players and show them what you got! (Gamescom, E3, etc.)
Looking to talk to fellow devs about your craft, exchange some experience, and potentially find a new employer? Also great! In this case, try getting into the more dev-oriented ones (GDE, GIC, GDC etc.)
Having that in mind, let's take a look at some of the conferences waiting for you!
Okay, this one is a really big deal. If you want to get some serious XP, level up a few skills, and learn new spells, this game summit is where you should go.
In San Francisco, California - GDC is home to some of the most amazing educational talks shared in the industry. No matter which part of the game development community you represent - programming, art, music, business, alpaca wrangling? You will find teachers willing to share their wisdom in that field.
During a typical GDC over 500 lectures will be heard by around 25 000 people. Another added bonus is the booths held by major companies in the industry, showing you their latest tech.
Again, if you want to boost your skills - seriously. GDC.
Poznań Game Arena / Game Industry Conference (Poland)
These two are the best of both worlds.
Poznań Game Arena is a great opportunity to showcase your game to the public and get real-life players' feedback. It's also where other game creators will come to show their projects, so it's a great way to meet new gamedev friends!
Game Industry Conference is PGA's twin, focusing on exchanging knowledge between devs. GIC also offers excellent opportunities for meeting business partners like investors and publishers. And if that doesn't yet convince you, there's plenty of educational talks and discussion and last but not least - the Career Zone. You can meet there reps from the various gamedev companies.
Leave your CV, discuss some hiring opportunities.
And while we're at it - if you need any tips on writing your CV - check out our article about 10 common mistakes that you should avoid.
And they both happen in the same place, at the same time! Talk about a coincidence!
Taking place yearly in August in beautiful Cologne, Gamescom is the biggest European gaming convention. This game festival is a huge gathering of players of all types, shapes, and colors. This is the venue that AAA gaming studios choose to unveil their upcoming games.
This is where gaming journalists flock to write about projects we'll be obsessing over in the next year. This is what the gaming community is all about. It's an experience that all game developers should have to remember why they create games in the first place.
One downside of Gamescom is, ironically, its size. With all the flashy booths of huge companies, it's difficult to grab the players' attention. So, you know. Maybe just have some fun instead?
Digital Dragons (Poland)
Conference packed with a lot of industry talks. Each edition attracts game dev pros from all around the world. But during Digital Dragons, we also talk business.
The conference also offers a Networking Zone. Simply register to Meet 2 Match and book some tasty meetings!
DD is also known for its epic afterparty. ;) We know - we’ve been there!
Not as huge as Gamescom in terms of quantity of visitors, but perhaps more important. You can probably expect the biggest announcements to drop right here in Los Angeles in any given year. Moreover, E3 doesn't focus solely on games. You will find it's a great place to get up to date with the newest tech, both software and hardware.
And like the other game industry events, it's an opportunity for networking that is hard to pass up. A simple chat with representatives of gaming companies can land you a talk with recruiters or potential partners, so give it a go!
Game Connection (Currently Online)
GC is all about the business side of gamedev. That is not to say that it's uptight and boring - you still get to meet amazing and interesting people from many branches of gamedev. But people coming here are not here to party or see a showcase of a new game.
They come here to find new business partners. Afterparties still probably do happen because come on - it's gamedev. But during the event, it's all business, baby.
For you, it might be a great opportunity to find a publisher or some other service provider for your game. The conference boasts some pretty impressive numbers to back up its claims - due to a survey made last year the average return on investment made thanks to a connection made there was $300k. You can probably imagine the number varied greatly between giant corporations and indie developers, but it gives you a nice overview of what happens at GC.
GameDev Evening (Poland)
If you're looking to network in a laid-back and relaxed setting, this is the place to be!
Once a year, Polish game developers gather for a weekend of chilling and relaxing together.
The location varies from year to year, but it's always somewhere close to nature, with lots of open spaces, greenery, and most likely a lake or pond. This event usually takes place in August, so you can count on great weather and staying up late, talking to other developers with a beer under the stars.
GDE is organized by the devs, and for the devs, so there's no hidden agenda behind it. Sure, there are sponsors, so you're bound to see a company logo or two, but there are no stands or booths. Instead, there are, however great, brain-teasing discussions taking place all around.
So I guess both chill and business talks can be found here. Score!
Your local game development conferences (everywhere)
And now, for the most fun part - there are game dev conferences all around you! Look into your local groups for video game developers on social media, and you'll quickly find their next get-together. Again, a little bit of research can yield many exciting opportunities!
Sure, these game industry conferences might not be as large as the other ones, but that can also be a good thing. It's much easier to mingle and find new connections in smaller crowds. These communities are usually much more tight-knit and friendly.
So? What are you waiting for? Go book your tickets and meet some awesome friends!
Unless you'd like to chat with us a bit first, that's cool too! We'll be happy to help in any way we can! The comment section is yours. You can catch us also on our socials.Tweet