Like Ye Olden Days: A Look Back at GDC 2023

Cy Wise
April 26, 2023
Tangle at GDC 2023

Hi hello dev-friends and tech-fiends! Cy here, and I’m bursting with excitement to share my experience and take a look back at the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2023 in San Francisco! It’s been a whopping four long years since I last attended this iconic event, and a lot has happened in that time, including co-founding my own company, absurd:joy (we’re making Tangle)! So, strap in as I take you on a wild ride through the city by the bay, filled with rain, fun, networking, reconnecting with old friends, and a whole lot of insights!

“If You’re Going to San Francisco…”

With my Head-of Marketing (and Head-of-Friendship), Rick, in tow, we kicked off our adventure. We started by inadvertently pitching Tangle to whomever had the unfortunate luck to sit next to us on our flights. It seemed like literally every single person flying into San Francisco was GDC-bound! Once we landed we dove headfirst into a whirlwind of meetings with investors and board members before making our way towards mixers and happy hours as per GDC tradition. For me, getting to see everyone’s faces, being able to reconnect and get updates on everyone’s lives and interests after being separated for so long was wildly energizing.

“Sing’in in the Rain…”

Tuesday, what began as a dreary day quickly escalated to apocalypse level chaos! But nothing could keep me from coffee, so I headed on over to Valve Coffee Hour for tasty treats and the sweet sweet nectar of the Gods. While there, we reconnected with some indie dev friends and discussed VR innovations, games’ industry trends, and the new remote work landscape.

Cy and Rick at Unity during GDC

Fully caffeinated, we braved the elements and headed over to Rick’s old stomping grounds at the Unity office. Tangle is in fact made with Unity, just like all our games have been for over a decade, so we love to catch up with our Unity-friends. There we chatted with Tangle advisor, Clive Downie, discussed industry pain points, and the role of joy in company culture. As always, Clive’s feedback was invaluable (along with his special request to see an avatar with his very own cravat). Having outside experts looking at the industry landscape and giving us their authentic emotional response to existing tools helps me calibrate in a meaningful, real-life kind of way.

Clive's personalized avatar

At this point the rain started kicking up in earnest, but we persevered, attending an event hosted by our investors at 1Up, where I was able to catch up with the other portfolio companies and bond with fellow entrepreneurs about startup challenges, culture building and more. Rick continued the networking marathon at the Google Cloud event, where he learned even more about new VR innovations and industry trends.

Wind damage in SF during GDC

“Here Comes the Sun…”

With the storm finally over, Wednesday brought sunshine, opportunities to discuss DEI with fellow attendees, and the all too common slew of meetings. We learned that more and more companies had been cutting DEI roles due to economic headwinds, which we believe is wildly unacceptable and terrible for both employees and the industry at large. I have a lot of thoughts about the importance of integrating DEI into the bones of your company, so check them out.

Cy meeting with our board member Amy

“Leavin’ on a Jet Plane…”

Before bidding adieu to San Francisco, we attended a fantastic session on salary transparency presented by our friend and very first customer, Matt Schembari from Lightforge Games. The session, titled “Open Salaries: Ensuring Equitable Pay Through Pay Transparency,” delved into the benefits of salary transparency within a games studio and how to normalize conversations around compensation. Afterwards, we shared our own experiences, what worked, and what didn’t, and even brainstormed ideas for future panels and sessions (stay tuned!). It was a fruitful discussion that left us feeling inspired and ready to tackle new challenges in our company.

Lightforge presentation at GDC

“Home Sweet Home…”

As always, GDC was exhausting but incredibly rewarding. We returned home with a treasure trove of valuable insights, connections both old and new, and renewed excitement about what lies ahead for Tangle. Our time at the conference not only solidified our belief in our mission but also opened our eyes to new possibilities and areas for growth. The feedback we received on our product, the conversations we had, and the overall GDC atmosphere reminded us of the importance of connecting with our peers and staying at the forefront of industry trends.

To those who have signed up and are eager for Tangle Early Access, keep an eye on your inbox! We can’t wait to share our creation with you and continue building on your feedback. And for everyone else, watch out for more exciting updates from us at upcoming events. We’ll be attending more conferences, meetups, and gatherings throughout the year, so be sure to follow our journey as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of remote work and collaboration.

Until next time, friends! Stay curious, stay connected, and here’s to making the gaming and tech world a more joyful, inclusive, and innovative space for all!


Bye for now

Cy Wise

By Cy Wise

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