Name: Alan Yu
Title: Director, Game Developers Conference
Ethnicity: Chinese American
Residence: San Francisco
AW: If you were a video game character, who would you be?
Yu: I would be the PlayStation One version of Crash Bandicoot. Remember him in those pizza commercials in the late 90’s?
“[Video] games will become the most important media in our lifetime,” says Yu. “Linear media won’t be able to top it off.”
Despite having just completed five days at the Game Developers Conference, Director Alan Yu maintains an exuberant energy with a sparkling brilliance in his eyes and a quick, alert mind. As the director of GDC, the 30-year-old is responsible for organizing the people and minds behind the world’s largest conference for video game developers.
Growing up in San Francisco Chinatown, Yu was raised by his grandmother while his mother worked as a seamstress and father as a chef.
Yu attended Wallenberg High School. “But I never graduated,” he adds nonchalantly. That didn’t stop Yu, who got involved with the GDC at the age of 21. Yu proceeded to obtain his general education diploma and was admitted at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, during which time he studied fiction writing.
“After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, it took me six months to find a job,” he says. Taking a job at then Miller Freeman as a receptionist, he says, “the company wanted assurance that receptionists made commitments of six months. The position had such a high turnover rate and receptionists kept getting picked up by game companies. I left the day after my six months were up since the game group [CMP Game Media Group] had picked me up.”
“If it weren’t for games like Sega’s Madden and NHL, I wouldn’t be here,” says Yu. “I stopped playing video games in high school because it wasn’t cool to play. But when I went to college, we smoked weed, drank beer and played video games. And you can write that in!”
Yu’s life revolves and evolves around video games. “The inspiration comes from the joy of being connected with my childhood. PC, Xbox, they bring that joy and excitement back,” smiles Yu. “It’s led me to a place where I’m able to meet fascinating and creative people.”