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GDC news round-up; Or 'why should my family care about an industry conference'?

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Last week, tens of thousands of games makers flocked to the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Better known as GDC, it has traditionally been a chance for games makers and those that create games making software to share ideas, knowledge and experiences, predominantly through lectures, seminars and workshops.

So why would that be interesting to families that visit AskAboutGames? Simply put, the conference has evolved. When our team members were at the event ten years ago, there was a much less significant spotlight shining on how games were made. We remember a tiny press room with a handful  industry press, and game industry legends strolling the conference floor without any PRs escorting them so as to mediate their contact with press.

A decade on, and the interest in games globally means people are – just as has long been the case with cinema and music – now interested in the back story of games, and how they are made. As such, with each GDC more press, PRs and others have descended on the show, making it a new destination for big announcements and product reveals, just as seen more traditionally at shows like E3 and Gamescom.

That considered, we thought we bring you our favourite news from this year's show. Some will be fun to share with your family if a younger relative is wondering what making games is like as a potential career, and others will let you start to think about how the role of games and technology in your family home, or even in the classroom. And not every announcement is strictly about games, because today, game technology is everywhere.

• Disney showcased a new technology that turns normally written movie scripts into VR experiences, so a director can immediately inhabit a world they are creating, and explore it from the inside. Imagine how that might change the way we do our home work in a few years! (To see more visit Variety)

• And if you want great discussion point about how a game character is designed – perhaps of interest to a youthful wannabe game creator in your family – a talk on the original creation of Sonic the Hendgehog revealed some fascinating, easily understood insights. (To see more visit Eurogamer)

•  Another taste of the future of learning in the classroom came via Epic, which is a technology used to make and power video games. At Epic's lead session, Lord of the Rings actor Any Serkis performed a scene from Macbeth, all without being there. Special cameras caught his performance live, and recreated him instantly on-screen in computer graphics, with near photorealistic accuracy. Then, an expert was able to tweak and change the shape of Serkis' digital representation, showing how we could, in the future, act like a a creature entirely like ourselves - let's say a monster. We could then have that monster appear on-screen instantly, following our every move, right down to the squint of an eye. Conversations with your family about how that might be used in games, using your imagination and at school might really inspire young minds pondering a future making things with technology. (To see more visit MCV)

• We keep hearing about how artificial intelligence – or 'AI' – is going to control everything in the future – maybe even us. When computers can think, work, speak and make decisions without us, thinks like work, study and leisure will be entirely different. Or will they? At GDC Emily Short of Spirit AI – which helps make artificial characters that can talk with us, perhaps to police online games when there's too much going on for humans to look after everyone – gave a thrilling overview of what AI will mean to our future. (To see more visit

• Press also got to try the Oculus Go VR headset. Normally proper VR equipment that doesn't use a mobile phone is very expensive, and requires a separate and even more expensive high-end PC. The Oculus GO, meanwhile, is a standalone VR headset, meaning there's no need for wires, a PC... or a mobile phone. At $200 it is much cheaper than comparable hardware, and as it inevitably comes down in price over time, it may finally put VR in the hands of the masses; something that has thus far not happened, seriously hindering VR's potential. (To see more visit UploadVR)

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Will Freeman