GDC Wrap-Up: Top Three Things to Watch in 2016

By Michael Rosa

Held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this year, the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) celebrated its 30th anniversary of bringing together gamers and developers alike.

GDC is always a prime place to encounter coming game-design trends.

Around 26,000 gamers and industry professionals from all over the world visited GDC this year, a big jump from the original 27 or so designers who GDC founder Chris Crawford invited to his San Jose living room for the inaugural conference way back in 1988!

Whether conference-goers came to learn, be inspired, network or simply get a jump on the future of video games, incredible fun was enjoyed by all. In case you missed it, here are the top three take-aways from GDC 2016:

Virtual Reality: The Final Frontier

All eyes seemed to be focused on VR at this year’s GDC.

Virtual reality made a huge impact this year at GDC. Here’s what different industry players were doing about it:

  • Quick-on-the-draw Samsung already has an available headset, the Gear VR.
  • The Oculus Rift, which has become synonymous with virtual reality, showcased amazing digital worlds before its official launch later this month.
  • The Valve HTC Vive comes out in April, bringing VR to the myriad gamers who use the open-source game platform Steam.
  • Sony announced that its ready-to-play Playstation VR headset (compatible with the PS4) will arrive in October.
  • Google Glass, which offers the most affordable virtual reality headset and has been out for some time, took it easy and barely made a splash at the event.

Best Interactive Game

“Whether you are young, old, fit, frail or disabled, with Pillo anyone’s an abled gamer!”

Alt.Ctrl.GDC was a GDC booth where nonconventional game design and development got the chance to shine. Games with WWII-inspired crank-wheels and 1930’s-era switchboards as controllers tried to steal the show, but the best interactive game was Pillo.

Pillo is both a series of games and a pillow-based game platform. The pillow serves as a controller, with internal pressure sensors that allow players to hug, squeeze and press instead of tapping game-control buttons with their fingers.

The goal here is to provide a game platform for people who cannot effectively or enjoyably use a traditional controller pad. The Pillo website even boasts, “Whether you are young, old, fit, frail or disabled, with Pillo anyone’s an abled gamer!”

But Pillo is also a series of games made specifically for this new platform. The games, such as Mayayana, are designed to be super inclusive, cooperative and non-violent, but still challenging on an intellectual level.

Best Kid-Friendly Game

There were a lot of cool games previewed at GDC this year, but there was one that really captured our hearts.

Sneaky Ninja, a 2D platform game coming to Steam and the Wii-U, began its life as a Kickstarter dream. After getting financial backing, the game’s creators at Starfall Studios were ecstatic when selected for the Indie MEGABOOTH at GDC this year.

The game is a ton of fun and very kid-friendly, but not overly easy. Watch for Sneaky Ninja later this year!


GDC is great for showcasing what’s coming to the game world. If you love playing video games, maybe you should consider learning how to make them.

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