All in all we stayed in Hamburg for 3 nights and 4 days. It’s hard work to visit these kinds of conferences. You meet an awful lot of cool people, you need to take notes and photos if very important information, you need to do much face-work and after a 9-5 day at the lectures it’s usually time for some kind of mingle party with loud music and late nights. Alcohol is often free. I tend to take a beer or a soft drink since I need to stay on top the next day. It’s very important to rest when you can and remember to eat properly.
My top tips for surviving a game developer conference is:
1. Make sure you get time to rest, eat and sleep. It’s important to take care of yourself and listen to your body. If you are traveling far you might be jet lagged and if you don’t reserve time for sleeping and eating properly you will most likely end up catching some kind of cold or asking someone to kill you when the conference is over. Or more likely, you will need to take a day off next week in order to get back in shape.
2. Bring a notebook, a camera or some kind of recording device with you. There are different kinds of conferences, some are more business focused (Casual Connect), some meant for developers (Nordic Game Conference) while others are a mix of gamers and developers (GamesCom). If you have payed a lot of money to attend lectures, make sure you are able to take all that precious info back to your company. I have a notebook and an iPhone I use to take pictures of all the power point slides, and writing down the really interesting stuff. Trust me, you won’t remember all that info when you get back to work, your brain needs all the help it can get on this one! Pro tip: take a photo of the first slide in the power point presentation telling the audience what kind of lecture this is and the contact info. This way you will be able to sort one endless row of power point slides from another when looking at your pictures in the computer later on. I’we even seen people record whole sessions and the e-mail them straight to their companies during lunch breaks.
3. Bring business cards and be professional. It’s easy to forget your business cards or your conference badge. Make sure you have plenty of fresh, up to date cards and guard your badge with your life. It’s not always that easy to get a new one if your old one gets lost at a mingle party or you leave it somewhere during a lunch. My best tip for a successful mingle is to start talking to the other conference goers (omg who could have guessed!?). A lot of them really wants to talk to other developers, but might be a bit shy. Present yourself and ask them what they are doing. People love talking about themselves, just be sure to pay attention and keep a pen in your pocket. After you get someone’s card, write down a few notes about the person or the company. This will be tremendously helpful when you try to remember who you want to stay in touch with, when you send follow up e-mails back at the office.
Ola and I will write a post about our trip to Casual Connect for the MilMo Developer blog at http://milmogame.blogspot.com/ next week. There you will get hold of more photos!