Top Conventions for Designing Computer Video Games

Learn about where to mingle with professional game designers for your career.

video game convention lobby

By Gianni Truzzi

It's a sign of how huge the business of computer video games is that many specialized gaming conventions and conferences now exist. Some are focused on fans, contests and entertainment, providing video game designers with the opportunity to mingle and learn from the people who will be playing the games they create. Others are geared toward industry insiders, offering a chance to become aware of product trends, make contacts and expand skills. As a designer of computer video games, you are likely to attend some of these important events:

Game Developer's Conference (GDC)

Held in March, in a different U.S. city each year, GDC is intended for professional game developers. The emphasis is on practical information, much like that gained at video game design schools, to help developers keep pace with the rapidly changing tools and techniques. Experts from universities and video game companies such as Electronic Arts offer workshop sessions and panel discussions on hard-core issues of designing computer video games, production and programming. Other versions of GDC are held in Europe, China and Canada, as well as an autumn session in Austin, TX.

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)

Held in June at the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 is the annual industry trade show of the Entertainment Software Association. This is where companies show off their product lines to retailers at booths on the convention center floor. The most important industry event of the year, it's also where exciting announcements are made and previews are shown of computer video games and technologies to be released in the coming year.

BlizzCon

Every August, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California, Blizzard Entertainment holds this festival for fans of its popular online role-playing games "World of Warcraft," "StarCraft" and "Diablo." In addition to developer panels and product announcements, the two-day event features game tournaments, contests (including for fan art, songs and costume), and headlining entertainment on closing night.

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)

This three-day celebration of all things "nerdcore" is held in Seattle, Washington by the publishers of the gaming culture webcomic "Penny Arcade." This festival for tabletop, computer video games and console games offers tournaments, panel discussions and concerts. An East Coast version of PAX launched in Boston in 2010.

Just as avid video gamers learn how to beat the monsters or solve the puzzles from friends, so can the video game designer learn from what others in the industry are doing. Following these events will give you a head start on your way toward a degree in game design.

Sources: BlizzCon, Electronic Entertainment Expo,Game Developer's Conference, Penny Arcade Expo.