GDC 2012 Party Patrol

Parties are an important part of networking and GDC — just don’t get too carried away, or else you’ll wake up in a gas station bathroom on Friday afternoon. That said, as a public service to our community, here’s a curated list of GDC 2012 events, though there are undoubtedly many more that we missed. A longer crowdsourced list is here at “The Fellowship of GDC Parties.”


IGDA Party, 6 – 10pm, 1015 Folsom Street.
The IGDA functions are nice because you inevitably get a mix of business / industry / academics / students / everyone. Also, there are going to be acrobats or something.

POW: Indie Music & Developers Collide, 8pm – 1pm, DNA Lounge @ 375 11th St.
($5 w/ GDC badge). I’ve only ever known the DNA Lounge as the site of “Bootie” on Saturdays. Nonetheless, chiptune / electronic has been known to be awesome.

PixelJunk’s 4am, 6pm – ???, Super 7 Store @ 1427 Haight St and Masonic.
If you’re a PixelJunk fan, this’ll be the first public demonstration of 4am. They will also let you purchase t-shirts.


All Other Parties Are Trite and Dull, 8pm – ???, Public Works @ 161 Erie St.
($10-15, sold out) Presented by Wild Rumpus, One Life Left, Venus Patrol. Wild Rumpus puts on awesome UK indie events, and Venus Patrol is the project of IGF chairman Brandon Boyer. It promises to be a highly concentrated point of light that will instantly blind people who stare directly at it. Every single indie dev I know is going to this or at least trying to. If you were fortunate enough to get tickets, congratulations. (Also, I’m told the bar is cash only.)

6th Annual Gay Game Industry Gathering, 10pm – 1am, Pilsner @ 225 Church St.
(21+, it’s a bar) Pilsner is one of my favorite bars in San Francisco, it’s probably the most relaxed gay bar ever. It’s also 10 minute walk away from Wild Rumpus (above) and a few minutes away from Castro proper, if you want to get your dance on. It’s a nice stop in between everything. Non-gay people are allowed and welcome too.

Blacks In Gaming Mixer, 6pm – 10pm, W Hotel @ 181 3rd St, Great Room 1 & 2.
BIG has the coolest acronym ever. Also, the venue is right across the park from Moscone, so you should attend if you support “demystify[ing] the video gaming industry for people of color.”

IASIG Audio Mixer, 6-9pm, Thirsty Bear @ 661 Howard St.
If you’re interested in game audio / happen to be a game audio student or professional, the IASIG would love to have you. I don’t know much more than that, except I think the “Thirsty Bear” is a really cute name.

YetiZen Party, 8pm-2am, Ruby Skye @ 420 Mason St.
($627.95 / VIPs) For the entrepreneurs and more business-y type of people at GDC, this party looks to be properly epic. YetiZen is an omni-powerful game startup accelerator thing, which is to say they help you get funding for your super sleek monetized gamificated transmedia franchise opportunity. As for the venue, it’s like that scene from the Social Network where Justin Timberlake and Mark Zuckerberg are talking really loudly at each other.


Kill Screen <3 NY, 8pm – midnight, Public Works @ 161 Erie St.
Kill Screen has teamed up with NYC indie royalty to put on a super sweet party. Rumor has it that our very own Ramiro Corbetta will debut a fresh new iteration of his hit indie sports game Hokra. Also, they will allow you to purchase grilled cheese sandwiches.

Digital LA Drinks, 8pm – midnight, Vessel @ 85 Campton Place.
(free from 10-11pm, $10 otherwise) As if in a direct attack upon the NY scene, the people of Digital Los Angeles are putting on a mixer event in… in what looks like the business district. In the interests of maintaining an unbiased blog, I will only say that Los Angeles is like totally poopy and dumb.

Indie Art Jam, 8pm – midnight, Denny’s @ 816 Mission St.
No, seriously, a bunch of indie devs take over a Denny’s, eat greasy diner food, and draw and paint a bunch. Make sure you get here on-time if you want a seat; it’s crazy popular. Bring your sketchbook, your tablet, or your laptop.


Friday is notoriously the day when everyone leaves, usually in the evening, or maybe even earlier. (This is why the Student Pass is such a bad idea;  everyone has checked out by then.)

8-Bit Dope GDC Edition, 9pm-???, MIST Ultra Club @ 316 11th St.
($12 / $9 w/ GDC pass) Giant underground chiptune dance party? Sounds like a good way to start off your weekend vacation in San Francisco to me.


Some parties exist only as whispers that us mere mortals cannot even dream of — and that’s the closest we’ll ever get to it. “Level 99” is the private GDC speaker party. There’s also the fabled “Suite Party” which has two levels of security, a secret handshake, and crazy happenings where Peter Molyneux does body shots off Warren Spector.

As a newcomer to GDC culture, I find it strange that what began as an incredibly inclusive conference held in programmers’ bedrooms has metastasized into an ultra-exclusive business-y spectacle that privileges itself on special access, information, and closed-door screenings. Personally, as I’ve been growing up and taking on increasingly more adult responsibilities, I was always told that gossip and secret clubs were just the province of high school, that “it gets better” — but every day I realize increasingly that for some people, high school never really ended.

Sure, part of me is resentful that I’m not part of game developer royalty — but part of me also thinks that culture is a little dysfunctional and we shouldn’t necessarily support it.

Fortunately, I think indie game culture is changing GDC culture. Two of the biggest parties this year are events that anyone can buy (moderately priced) tickets for. I mean, it’s not accessible to everyone, but this is still a huge step forward. So let’s all just hold hands and grow up. Together.

2 Responses to “GDC 2012 Party Patrol

  • smitty
    12 years ago

    Your writeup on Yetizen sounded like an advert for their company.. so sick of that sort of thing. There are a new accelerator and have not had one acquisition yet which is fine but not exactly omnipowerful, give it a break

    • Smitty: I was being facetious. The last sentence implies the party is just about being flashy.