This past August, I had the fortune of being able to attend CEDEC on an IGDA scholarship – and thank you so much to the IGDA for giving me that opportunity, because it was absolutely incredible; easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, which I guess is probably most of you in the Western world, CEDEC is the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference, and it’s basically Japan’s mini-GDC, drawing thousands of game developers from around the country each year.
As part of the scholarship package, we also had the wonderful opportunity of visiting three Japanese studios! Some highlights:
- Premium Agency showed us some videos to demonstrate their AR work. Among these videos was this:
- Also, there was a motion capture-controlled Gundam as tall as the ceiling. Yes, that’s right, with a suit, a camera, and some software, you too can be a full-size Gundam in your living room for no reason, thanks to Premium Agency and their AR technology.
- UEI’s MOONblock program looks like a really fun tool for kids to learn to program, and honestly, it’d probably be fun even for an adult, even though that’s not its main purpose. Learn programming with teddy bears!
- GREE is shiny. Seriously, their walls, floor, and furniture are all white and shiny. They also keep a collection of manga and games in their cafeteria!
- GREE also gave us bottled water with game art printed on the labels, which was pretty cool, and wonderful for the hot weather outside. I fully intend to keep mine and just refill it over and over.
As for CEDEC itself, it was simply incredible. Despite not knowing nearly enough Japanese as I probably should have before going, it was still completely worth the trip. It’s amazing, really, how much you learn to appreciate diagrams, pictures, and videos in a presentation when you don’t understand the majority of what they’re saying. Plus, they actually had one track of presentations in English with interpretation going on for just about the whole time, which was a very welcome break from the brain strain of trying to understand what people were saying everywhere else in the conference. Admittedly, since it was only one at a time, the topics were pretty varied on that track, and they were sometimes heavily technical, so it wasn’t really something you would really want to stay in the whole time. Still, it was pretty surprising that they even had that, because I’m pretty sure GDC didn’t do anything nearly as inviting for its foreign guests, so I definitely appreciated how welcoming that was.
Speaking of welcoming, a lot of companies had booths around, and not all of them had native English speakers with them, although some did. However, almost all of them tried their best to accommodate me anyway, which was incredibly nice of them. The layout of the booths wasn’t quite as organized as at GDC. They were all generally located around the first and third floors, but there was no single, organized showcase space. Still, it didn’t make the content they showed any less impressive!
There was Premium Agency again, letting you shoot off Kamehameha waves.
(Seriously, I don’t understand why we don’t take advantage of this technology more in America)
Epic was there too, showing off the new Unreal Engine 4.
And the Oculus Rift let you navigate a city with a grappling hook, which of course looks and feels way cooler when you actually look through the device, but it didn’t look too bad on the computer, either!
I can’t thank the IGDA enough for giving me such an amazing opportunity through their scholarship. Especially since it was my first time visiting Japan, it was frequently difficult and definitely intimidating at times, but they did a great job making me feel welcome and helping me throughout. To any Western developers who may be considering attending CEDEC in the future, do it! Even if you have doubts about getting by with language barriers, it’s worth it. It was a fantastic experience, and I sincerely hope I can go again someday!