GDC Game Developers Conference

Game Developers Conference Tackles Industry Layoffs, Seeks Solutions

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is set to begin on Monday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This year, a pressing issue looms large for attendees of the five-day event: the state of employment within the industry, including who is currently employed, who is not, and the uncertainty of job security moving forward.

GDC’s leadership has chosen not to ignore the recent wave of layoffs affecting the video game sector. Instead, they’ve designed the 2024 conference’s agenda to directly confront these challenges. They aim to support those without jobs, helping them leverage their participation in the 38th annual conference to find new opportunities.

Stephenie Hawkins, the GDC event director, shared with Variety, “We’re actively helping individuals discover what they need to secure their next role.” The conference will feature numerous sessions focused on career development. These range from enhancing soft skills necessary for job hunting to acquiring the technical skills required for job applications. Hawkins highlighted the Game Career seminar scheduled for Friday, which promises more content than ever before. Additionally, there will be portfolio reviews for artists.

Hawkins also mentioned the efforts to assist hiring managers. The video game industry still has publishers and developers in search of fresh talent. For exhibitors looking to hire, the conference offers a feature in its mobile app allowing them to indicate they are hiring. This way, attendees know where to head once they arrive. GDC badges will also have ‘I’m Hiring’ ribbons, and the Game Developer Job Board on the GDC website will list available positions. A printed version of the job board will be available on-site, facilitating connections between job seekers and employers. Moreover, the conference will host speed networking events, providing structured opportunities for attendees to expand their professional networks.

Companies like Amazon Web Services, Google, Meta, Nintendo, Roblox, Samsung, King, and Playtika will discuss available positions in the GDC business meeting room. Ashley Corrigan, GDC conference manager and head of content, emphasized the conference’s focus on creating opportunities for collaboration and networking. Special spaces on-site will allow attendees to schedule meetings, fostering connections and advancing their careers amidst the industry’s current challenges.

The GDC 2024 lineup, featuring over 700 speaking sessions, was influenced by the GDC advisory board. This board, consisting of over 100 veteran game and VR-AR professionals, based their decisions on the findings of GDC’s 12th annual State of the Game Industry Survey. The survey revealed that 35% of the more than 3,000 game developers who responded were affected by layoffs in 2023. Over half of the respondents were concerned about potential layoffs in 2024, attributing the recent job cuts to post-pandemic adjustments, studio consolidations, and economic uncertainties. Some developers also expressed support for unionization as a means to protect workers better.

Beth Elderkin, GDC content marketing manager, commented on the industry’s challenges over the past year, including layoffs and ethical concerns surrounding generative AI. Despite these hurdles, the community remains united, with a growing support for unionization and a positive outlook towards building job networks and attending GDC.

In summary, GDC 2024 aims to address the video game industry’s employment challenges head-on, providing resources and networking opportunities for both job seekers and employers. Amidst layoffs and economic uncertainties, the conference stands as a beacon of hope, fostering a sense of community and resilience among game developers.