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SCN Exclusive: StageConnect Pro Helps Game Developers Conference Get Connected

StageConnect GDC Main Screen
(Image credit: StageConnect)

SCN Exclusive

(Image credit: Future)

The Game Developers Conference (GDC), the game industry’s premier professional event, brings the game development community together to exchange ideas, solve problems, and shape the future of the industry. This year’s event took place March 21-25 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco—and for the first time, GDC went hybrid. People who could not attend the conference in person could get virtual tickets that allowed them to attend live sessions as well as connect with colleagues and exhibitors virtually.

For GDC 2022 to live up to its billing as a truly hybrid event and offer the greatest value to virtual ticketholders, organizers needed to make the keynote session as exciting and engaging for online attendees as it would be for the people in the venue. That meant marrying the in-person and remote audiences live during the show. It required a solution that would make it possible to:

• display remote attendees on the main-stage LED walls for the in-person audience to see;

• provide remote attendees an ultra-low-latency stream with camera views of the main stage, keynote speakers, and in-person attendees; and

• allow remote attendees to join the 3D theater and watch the keynote while seeing each other.

The event had used other virtual event technology in the past, but that technology didn’t have the functionality to support a genuinely hybrid event or engage remote attendees in the way GDC envisioned. For GDC 2022, organizers chose StageConnect Pro, a two-way, real-time live streaming platform for events that lets on-stage presenters or performers see, hear, and interact with their remote audience. It is platform-agnostic and can be integrated into any platform or website that hosts remote attendees.

“It's nice for GDC to bring everybody together like this and actually show it.”

Stig Olav Kasin, PortalOne

During GDC 2022, StageConnect (opens in new tab) Pro operated in partnership with hybrid event platform Eventuall. StageConnect Pro powered the remote attendee feeds and delivered the audience view of the keynote session to users. It also collected the audio/video feeds from over 600 remote attendees, aggregated them in the cloud, tagged and categorized them, and composited them into two 7x7 galleries of attendees. Eventuall was the platform through which attendees logged in, navigated, watched, and interacted with the StageConnect stream of the keynote.

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Streaming engineers from Blaze Streaming Media received the remote-audience compositions as a full-screen web browser window, which it used as a source to display on the main-stage LED walls. Each remote user’s video was mapped to a “seat” in the Eventuall-hosted 3D theater. The remote audience (with attendees from more than 30 countries) appeared onstage as they took their virtual seats and joined the session. Remote users could watch the keynote and see and interact with the other attendees in the venue.

“It's nice for GDC to bring everybody together like this and actually show it,” said Stig Olav Kasin, founder and CXO at PortalOne, who attended GDC 2022 in person. “I know that [the virtual audience was] there, but to actually see them, it creates a sense of connection.”

StageConnect Pro at GDC 2022

StageConnect at GDC 2022 (Image credit: StageConnect Pro)

During the show, a single technician ran the StageConnect software using an interface called the Producer Panel. Through the Producer Panel, the technician created galleries, managed remote users, applied tags, and more. The streaming engineers returned the production stream to StageConnect Pro via RTMP directly from backstage at the Moscone Center. In turn, StageConnect Pro returned the stream to remote attendees so they could see the content in their video player.

There were more than 18,000 in-person and virtual attendees this year. Davina Mackey, director of support services and operations at PlayStation and a keynote speaker, said that “bringing people around the world together...we can’t do better than this. We never have to go back.”

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Until now, event organizers that wanted to offer a “hybrid” event really just produced the same event in two forms—one for in-person attendees and another that consisted of a one-way live stream for remote audiences—with no interaction between them. At GDC 2022, StageConnect Pro brought the two elements together to create a true hybrid, whereby the entire in-person audience can see the remote audience on the screens in real time (and vice versa).

“Feedback from the in-person and remote attendees was that the StageConnect Pro setup increased the value of the show and the feeling of connectedness,” said Cole Morgan, StageConnect founder and CEO. “It nearly doubled the attendance of the keynote session and has forever blown the walls off of GDC’s global reach. It also supported virtual ticket sales, sponsorship, and other revenue opportunities, which can result in even more content, connections, and value for the community.”


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