This week I’m in San Francisco for this year’s Game Developers Conference! I can’t wait to connect with colleagues and learn more about our great industry! I will also visit the city, you know how I roll! I have a few things on my bucket list, can you guess some of the locations I will visit? I can’t wait to share photos & video logs with you all! 🇺🇸✌

March 16th – Day 1: Golden Week

The time has come to finally go to San Francisco. The way there consisted of two flights: from Montreal to Toronto and finally San Francisco. I’ve arrived pretty late in the city because of flight delays (737 stuff and all). I went to deposit my stuff at my rented AirBnB room (which is conveniently right next to the actual AirBnB headquarters), and went straight for a walk in the city! The first area I’ve visited was the Golden Gate Park. The iconic bridge itself is located a little bit further to the north of the park. To get a nice view of the bridge, I went all the eay to the Baker Beach. It was an incredible sight to finally see it in person especially during the sunset!

I’ve ended the night in some very nice japanese restaurant. Yeah yeah, I know, I can’t get away from my Japan dreams, but hey, I’m not a complicated man: I see seafood udon and I have to get some! It was very good and surprisingly not expensive! Next destination: Pier 39 & Alcatraz Prison!

March 17th – Day 2: The Rock

Today I went to prison! Well, not literally…! The main destination was a visit to Alcatraz Prison, but you need to reserve tickets and wait for the visit. In the meantime, I visited the piers on the northern part of the city. Conveniently, it was also St. Patrick’s Day so there were A LOT more people than usual on the streets! From Pier 14, you get a very great view of the Oakland Bay bridge and a nice skyline of San Francisco. On the way to the other piers you could see palm trees, the famous San Francisco cable car and even a sight of Coit Tower from afar! Pier 39 is the place to be. Lots of fancy attractions could be found! At the end of the pier, you could see Alcatraz in the distance. From here I stop at Hard Rock Café and get a few drinks before going to prison!

Now, Alcatraz was not what I expected at all. Everyone thinks about the prison itself, sure, but there’s actually more to the island than that: there are actual gardens and even more. It is a national park in San Francisco. The way the visit went is you go through the main path until you reach the main prison. Many old buildings are still there, now holding art exhibits and museums. On the way to the top, there is also the famous water tower where a deep message is written. When you reach the prison, you can learn more about the whole history of Alcatraz through an audio tour. It’s fascinating to hear how the inmates heard the celebrations of New Year’s Eve from the city every year while they were stuck in their cells! After the tour, you can even meet an old Alcatraz inmate, William Baker. He has written a book about his own experience on the island. It was touching to see him there. Overall, this visit was very good and I recommend it if you ever go to San Francisco.

March 18th – Day 3: Opening Ceremony

It was finally time to go to the Game Developers Conference! First thing in the morning I’ve headed to Moscone Center to get my pass. There are three halls to the center: west, north and south. All week long, speakers will give talks about different subjects from the games industry. I’ve been planning all the talks & sessions I’ve wanted to go to and that’s exactly what I did all day long!

I’ve ended my day at a very comfortable cafe called Pier 23. A pianist was in the place and everyone was in a good mood! Obviously, being in SF, I had to try the seafood! My diner for the night were shrimps, mussels & clams in a creamy white wine sauce. Delicious!

March 19th – Day 4: Roadtrip

Today, I went to the only GDC talk I’ve wanted to see and right after I’ve decided to take a sightseeing bus tour! If you’ve never taken one, basically it’s an hop-on & hop-off kind of bus that goes around the most interesting landmarks in San Francisco. If you want to go take pictures or videos, hop-off and get back on the next bus! Some places I’ve visited include: St-Paul Church, City Hall, Painted Ladies and many many more! I saw the Golden Gate Bridge from afar last time, but we’ve actually crossed it this time! It was pretty nice to get closer to it.

Finally, I’ve ended the day at San Francisco’s Chinatown. The beautiful red lights illuminated the streets and I took some photos of the great street art! I eat some amazing spicy Sichuan food at Z & Y, which is a 5 time Michelin Guide recommended restaurant. Boy was it good! People were waiting outside, but the long wait was worth it!

March 20th – Day 5: The Expo

The Game Developers Conference Expo was finally opened today! First thing I did was head straight to Moscone Center to be greeted with an amazingly long line-up to enter the expo! The expo is the place to connect and recruit people from the industry! I saw glimpses of Stadia, Google’s newest entry into the gaming market as well as a bunch of tech & recruitment booths! It was nothing like previous tradeshows I went to before and was focused more on the game development side. I talked to a bunch of people and got some contact cards, maybe I’ll give them a call or two! Also, I got the chance to watch the Panzer Dragoon postmortem and it was as interesting as I’ve expected it to be. Japanese development at the time was so different from today’s and they also talked about the harsh development cycle of Panzer Dragoon Saga. It was really touching! At least there are Panzer Dragoon remakes coming later this year and that gets me extremely pumped!

March 21st – Final Day: The Party

GDC is coming to an end. I honestly don’t have much to say except that I’ve ended the day at the Ubisoft GDC party in Barbossa’s Lounge. It was really nice to connect with my colleagues and retell some stories of my trip.

I will always remember my time in San Francisco this year. Thanks for reading and watching my videos and see you later!

-Nico