Writing a good essay is perhaps harder than it sounds. To help you along I have gathered some tips. Please read them all. It will probably benefit your chances.
Read the assignment thoroughly
Make sure that you cover all parts of the assignment. It is not only important that you state your goal clearly, but also let us know how you will try to achieve that goal.
Stick to the two pages
If you want to make your essay look good by using images, great! But please make sure you don’t exceed the max of two A4 pages (including images). But please bear in mind that the content is more important than making your essay look pretty.
Every event is different and has different things to offer. Do online research on GDC or ask people that have been to GDC to see if your goal is feasible and how you can achieve it. For instance, if you mention that you want to go to talks of developers that are well-known for not giving lectures, it could come across as lack of research. A lot of big companies make announcements prior to GDC about what to expect from them at the event. Try to read some of those from the past few years. It will probably give you a better understanding of what you can expect. On the GDC website you can find a list of exhibitors and floor plans for the various halls. Check them out, so you know who is on the show floor. It might also be useful to check out GDC Vault.
Just saying that you want to meet/talk to new people is not enough. Be more specific. Let us know who you want to meet, why them and how you are going to reach out to them. Are you interested in meeting just anybody? Could be, but then still tell more about why and how you feel that this is going to benefit you and your future career. If you mention that you want to get in touch with publishers or developers, please elaborate. Name names of the companies/persons and why you have chosen those specific companies/people.
Everyone is super busy during GDC. The chances that you randomly run into interesting people that have time for a meeting are slim. Being extravert will probably help you, but it’s not enough. If you want to speak to someone that is in high demand, it’s very likely that hundreds of other people want to talk to that person as well. If you are lucky, you might get to say ‘Hi’ to them, but when you ask for a minute of their time, chances are that they tell you that they are too busy and that their schedule is fully booked. Therefore, you need to have a plan. Please share this plan with us in your essay. Explain how you will make sure you get to meet the right people for you.
Independent Games Summit pass has limits
The Independent Games Summit pass only gives access to sessions in this summit (Monday and Tuesday) and the expo areas. Please check here for the information. If you include a list of sessions that you want to attend, make sure that the Independent Games Summit pass gives you access. With each session it is mentioned which passes will grant you entrance. If your goal is to be inspired or to gain knowledge, explain what you are going to do other than attending the Independent Games Summit. What are you going to do the rest of the week?
Focus on the important things
Reading about your passion for games and your background is absolutely interesting, but that is not the main point of your essay. We are looking for people that will make the most out of a GDC visit, so make sure that that is the focus of your essay. A personal introduction is fine, but keep it brief and only elaborate if it is important to explain your goal.
If you want to pitch your game project to publishers/developers/press, do not only be specific about who you want to talk to (see above), but also explain what your game is a short one sentence elevator pitch. I do realise it may be difficult to do this, but it’s very important. Not necessarily for your essay, but it is for your pitch to people you want to meet.
Making a report and share your knowledge is not a goal in itself
This is something that we expect from the students that we send to GDC, it’s part of the Open Call.
You don’t have to write in your essay that you haven’t been able to attend GDC before due to financial limitations. We know this. That’s why I started this grant and others contributed to it : -)
Events you have visited
If these are well known game events, like Indievelopment, Gamescom, Control Conference, Unity User Group, Unite, etc. you can just name them without elaborating. The people in the selection committee are familiar with these events.