Vol.34 No.2 May 2000

ACM SIGGRAPH Outreach to the Computer Games Community: A Report on the Game Developers Conference 2000

Theresa-Marie Rhyne

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As noted in Computer Graphics 34(1) February 2000, ACM SIGGRAPH began the year 2000 with a new special project to outreach to the computer games community. So far, we have received a terrific number of emails from computer games professionals and other interested folks. Simultaneously, the SIGGRAPH 2000 Courses Committee accepted an innovative course entitled: “Games Research: the Science of Interactive Entertainment.” Craig Reynolds of Sony Computer Entertainment America and Chris Hecker of definition six, inc. are the course organizers. Please see: As part of this SIGGRAPH outreach effort, the CMP Game Media Group provided me a warm welcome at the Game Developers Conference 2000. Below is the report of my adventures.

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2000, managed by the CMP Game Media Group, was held March 8-12, 2000 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California. This yearly event is where game designers, programmers, artists, producers, audio professionals and others converge to share ideas, network and chart the future of the computer games industry.

GDC 2000 was organized around several tracks: Visual Arts; Audio; Programming; Game Design; Production: Business & Legal. For each track, there were recommendations on tutorials (held Wednesday and Thursday) and conference sessions (held Friday through Sunday) to attend. There was also a keynote session for each track. For a more detailed discussion of each conference track, see

For GDC 2000, tutorials ranged from beginning topics such as "Game Design Fundamentals" to intermediate topics like "Community Design for Large-Scale Gaming Worlds" and "Producing Games: Start to Finish" to advanced sessions on "Artificial Life for Computer Games." There were also courses on 3D Studio Max, Advanced OpenGL Game Development, Direct3D Programming and Maya 2.5 Real-Time Content Creation. Since the computer games community is new to me, I attended the "Game Design Fundamentals" tutorial taught by Noah Falstein. There I learned about the concept of convexity for game design. Convexity is the notion that one option or choice expands into many and then back to one again. A game designer applies convexity structure by creating choices that continuously diverge and later converge at "crisis points." The GDC 2000 event seemed to have its own convexity structure where the crisis points of convergence for attendees were breakfasts, lunches and receptions.

The GDC Classic Conference defined the various papers and panels presented Friday through Sunday. The keynotes for each track included:

  •  Visual Arts: Doug Chiang of Lucasfilm
  •  Audio: Randy Thom of Lucasfilm
  •  Programming: Kurt Akeley of SGI
  •  Game Design: Peter Molyneux of Lionhead Studio
  •  Game Design: Yu Suzuki of Sega of Japan
  •  Production: Lome Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants
  •  Business & Legal: Tom Dusenberry of Hasbro Interactive

Bill Gates delivered the opening keynote session on Friday morning where he announced the Microsoft’s X-Box gaming console that will become available in 2001. For a more detailed discussion on the X-Box announcement, see: On Thursday, Phil Harrison of Sony Entertainment America gave a keynote presentation on the PlayStation II. Danny Hills of Walt Disney Imagineering delivered the official conference keynote session.

The GDC 2000 Expo included demonstrations of over 150 services, tools and platforms for computer games. Exhibitors included 3dfx Interactive Inc., Alias|Wavefront, Dolby Laboratories Inc., Electronic Arts, LIPSinc, NVIDIA, Apple, Microsoft and Sony to name but a few. A comprehensive listing of exhibitors is available at

In addition to the many receptions, industry forums and special interest group meetings, the Computer Game Developers Association (CGDA) also held a well-attended session. From more information on CGDA, see

The GDC 2000 event was a high-energy conference with approximately 10,000 or more attendees. The CMP Game Media Group did an excellent job of organizing the conference program to facilitate many opportunities for networking and socializing among attendees. Clearly it is the place where game developers come together.

Theresa-Marie Rhyne
Lockheed Martin Technical Services
US EPA Scientific Visualization Center
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