Gaming student makes vital connections as part of conference 'family'

Published 04.28.2022

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Troy E. Records Jr., set to graduate from Pennsylvania College of Technology next month with two information technology degrees, was chosen as a Conference Associate for last month's Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. The conference is the game industry's premier professional event, championing game developers and the advancement of their craft, and the compensated corps of CAs helps make everything go smoothly.

Troy E. Records Jr."It was, without a doubt, the best and most impactful week of my life," said Records, of Williamsport, who applied and (after being told there were no vacancies) was offered a position off the wait list. "I met so many incredible people and built so many connections throughout the week with people ranging from fellow students, to senior engineers, to award-winning composers, to voice actors."

Records has petitioned to graduate May 14 with bachelor's degrees in information technology sciences-gaming & simulation and software development & information management. At least for now, though, the life-changing networking opportunities – both personally with the other CAs and professionally with industry representatives – are the biggest takeaway from his final semester.

"I got to spend an entire week not only working beside these people, but to hang out and just get to know them and who they are. I got to hear their stories, their experiences and their perspectives," he said. "Just having the opportunity to spend so much time with others, either living a career or seeking a career in the same industry as me, the games industry, gave me significantly better understanding and view of the big picture. And I have made connections that are most likely going to land me a job, helping me break into this highly competitive industry fresh out of college."

Aside from the "business-related stuff," he said, the most memorable part of the trip was the family of Conference Associates: people with a burning passion for the industry who simply want to help the GDC go off without a hitch. In return for that vital contribution, they get swag and an all-access pass to the conference.

"This group of 450 CAs is the most loving, amazing and incredible community I've ever been a part of. Having all these business connections and job opportunities is great and all, but there was just a magic to this community. It was an environment filled with people that wanted nothing but to do everything they could to help those around them. Every single CA I met and every interaction I had with them was beyond extraordinary. The people that make up the CA family are some of the most phenomenal individuals I have ever met, and I have no idea how Ian MacKenzie, the guy that manages the whole thing, finds these people. I have nothing but love for all those I met during that week. These people are family to me."

Records, who hopes to attend next year's conference, would be happy if only one other Penn College shared his GDC experience and had even half as good a time.

"Anyone who has any interest in the games industry, whether it's making board games, voice acting, writing narratives, programming or literally anything related to the industry should consider applying to be a conference associate," he said. "It truly is an experience you cannot find anywhere else – in regard to business connections or personal. That week will probably stay as the most important week of my life for quite a while. I even started using a journal that week and ended every nightly entry with, 'Thank you Ian for this opportunity. Thank you CAs for being your incredible selves.'"

The value of that West Coast adventure is far from lost on Records' faculty adviser, who applauds his initiative in participating and his encouragement of classmates to do likewise.

"Attending conferences like GDC is vital in helping students make connections and expanding their knowledge of the industry," said Alicia L. McNett, assistant professor of computer information technology. "I am elated that Troy could attend GDC to not only expand his network and grow as a professional, but also that he was then able to share his experiences with students at Penn College and help them understand the importance of attending industry events and making these connections."

She also noted his dedication to a campus organization, which demonstrates how his passion for the field extends beyond the classroom.

"Having previously been a longtime officer for Wildcat Games Studio, a student club that operates like a game studio, Troy has been instrumental in providing leadership to new students interested in the gaming industry and game development," McNett said, taking special notice that much of that leadership took place when in-person meetings were limited and typical events were impractical. "This club is unique and just another one of those things that I feel sets Penn College apart from other institutions."