There were also some things that were absolutely bizarre. During the Game Designer's Rant, Jon Mak's "Rant" as it were, is he had the staff release a bunch of balloons with things written on them into the audience, and then they forced Kim Swift (the lady behind Portal) onto the stage for an impromptu speech (which was a surprise even to her, or at least she played along really well). I'm not sure anyone got what it meant, but it was interesting at least. I think maybe he just wanted to see how the crowd would react.
I'm glad that there's a lot of focus at the moment on making games that are emotionally compelling. I know I've personally become a bit jaded with games, because a lot of them are so hollow. You play it, and there's a story, but you don't really care. Oh, so they're going to blow up the earth? Let them. The lack of compelling narratives is becoming a lot more apparent now than it was in the past. We used to be able to say, oh, well its just because technology isn't up to snuff yet, once we can totally realistically model the characters faces and show their emotion then our games will be much more powerful. But now that we can have these incredibly realistic characters, it seems like nobody actually knows what to DO with those guys. Remember Final Fantasy 7? The technology in that game was incredibly primitive, but it's quite possibly the most emotionally compelling game ever. Why haven't we had a game recently that could make us cry when someone dies like that game did?
One game that was talked a lot about is an indie game called Passage. I think it's one of those really rare games you can actually call profound.
Games do really have a ton of promise to actually excel in this area, though, so the GDC was rather inspiring in that it sounds like a lot of people are recognizing this problem, and the next few years we should really see the industry grow up a bit and make some games that actually have meaning and depth.