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Find answers to common questions about submissions

See advice from the GDC Advisory Board about developing your session proposal.

If you still have a question to which you can't find the answer, please contact: [email protected] (Core Concepts & GCS) and [email protected] (Summits).

GDC Submissions FAQ

What is the Advisory Board looking for?

The GDC Advisory Board seeks submissions from game developers, researchers, educators, and thought leaders eager to share what works, what should change, and where the future of video games is headed. The Board is eager to hear new creators, new stories, and new ideas—with a focus on diversity of voice, experience, and perspective.

How can I prepare myself for submitting a proposal?

First, watch past GDC talks and take note of what you liked (or didn’t like) as a viewer. Do you feel the talk achieved its goals and conveyed its message, or did it leave you with unanswered questions? What parts would you emulate? What would you have done differently? 

It’s good to see what has been talked about before at GDC that might be related to your talk. Not only can this help you avoid submitting duplicates, but can also help you modify your own proposal. Be prepared to share why your talk makes sense now, and what new ideas and context you can bring to the conversation.

Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the submission fields on the Call for Submissions page to see exactly what the GDC Advisory Board needs before you start drafting it. For more details, head to our Call for Submissions page here: Core Concepts or Summits & Game Career Seminar (Coming soon!).

Lastly, here's the link to a helpful GDC Q&A video on submitting a talk, session, or panel. This video provides insight into the process, talks about what advisors look for in proposals and answers key questions from the talk's audience.

What are the benefits of being a GDC speaker?

Speaking at GDC offers numerous benefits, including significant professional exposure and enhanced credibility in the industry. It provides unparalleled networking opportunities with industry leaders and potential collaborators, fostering valuable professional relationships. Speakers can share their expertise, contribute to the growth of the industry, and enhance their resumes with this prestigious experience. Additionally, speakers receive a complimentary pass to the conference, access to all sessions, and an invitation to our exclusive Level 99 Party, making it a rewarding and enriching experience both personally and professionally.

What is the difference between GDC Core Concepts and Summits?

GDC Summits are 1- or 2-day programs that take place on Monday and Tuesday of GDC and consist of lectures, panels and workshops. Each summit centers on a niche topic within game development and its relevant community, and has its own set of advisors who define the summit’s editorial goals and review the summit’s submissions. A full list of active Summits can be found here. You can view the current Summit advisors here.

Core Concepts sessions run Wednesday through Friday of GDC and consist of lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions. The Core Concepts program focuses on seven core pillars of game development: Advocacy, Audio, Business & Marketing, Design, Production & Team Leadership, Programming, and Visual Arts. The editorial goals for this program are listed here. Core Concepts submissions are reviewed by the GDC Advisory Board. The topic and audience reach for Core Concepts is generally wider than Summits, though the goal for all sessions at GDC is to be rich with takeaways – whether for a niche community or a general discipline.

Do you accept session proposals that promote a product or service?

GDC advisors do not accept product or vendor-related proposals through the call for submissions. If your talk is primarily intended to advertise or promote a particular product, technology, or service offered by your company, we instead encourage you to explore the option of becoming a sponsor for a sponsored session. For more information on sponsored sessions, please visit the become a sponsor page.

What should my proposal look like?

The main crux of the proposal is an approximately 500-word synopsis of what the talk will be about and what GDC attendees will take away from it. Don't shy away from sharing all relevant numbers and supporting materials—this synopsis is only for the Advisory Board, no one else will see it. 

In addition, submitters will need to provide website details like: what the presentation will be called, the format, what track it will cover, along with a speaker bio and other website descriptions.

Should I provide supporting materials?

They’re not required, but we highly recommend you provide as many supporting materials as possible that you plan to include in your presentation. This includes things like research data, screenshots, or videos that support your case or show a technique in action. This helps us better understand what your talk will cover and how it will benefit the GDC audience.

When applicable, be sure to include real gameplay scenes, plot details, and other post-release data related to your talk (even if the game is not available yet), not just simple or undemanding test content. The advisory board has a lot of experience evaluating pre-release games and at keeping submission materials confidential. 

Submissions are never rejected for including too much material.

Does my game need to be released before I submit my proposal?

No, but it is recommended that your game be scheduled to release at least two to three months before the week of GDC, so the quality of the work can be evaluated by the larger game dev community. Exceptions can be made for talks about pre-release or new release games—for example, if the technique can be fully evaluated from visuals (e.g. a cloud rendering shader)—but these are pretty rare.

Do I need to include presentation slides?

No, you don't need to submit your actual slides during the proposal stage. But provide details of what they will cover—ideally in bullet form so they’re easy to assess.

For example, if you are going to talk about a design problem you experienced, don't say "I will discuss the problems we faced designing Game X.” Instead, spell out the design space, the constraints you faced, the nature of the problem, and the specific steps you took to address it, the outcome/learnings, and why you think this is valuable to the audience.

Can I see any older proposals for inspiration?

Yes! Head here for examples of standout proposals that made their way to the Game Developers Conference. Feel free to use them as guidance for building your own proposal—while avoiding direct plagiarism, of course.

Does GDC provide a speaker fee?

Every year, the Game Developers Conference accepts over 800 speakers for the non-sponsored program. The conference organizers have implemented a Speaker Support Program to provide financial and/or hotel assistance to as many speakers who may need financial aid as possible. Speakers can apply for speaker support upon notification of acceptance or Phase 2 conditional acceptance into the GDC program. Applying for speaker support does not have any impact on final decisions for official acceptance into the program.

What is the most common mistake I should avoid?

Don’t just submit a “teaser” of your approach or technique. Share all your relevant information, including the talk’s main takeaway and all supporting documents. The GDC Advisory Board needs to have enough information so they can properly evaluate whether your presentation will have an impact.

I’m looking to submit a talk with a co-speaker. Is this a good idea?

Decades of GDC events have shown that single-speaker talks tend to fare better than multi-speaker presentations, unless the talk is specifically formatted as a microtalk series or panel. Verbal communication with a room of 300+ strangers is hard enough, and it's even harder with two people sharing the stage! 

Having a co-speaker is more difficult, but still possible, so long as your talk includes related but distinct topics and each speaker brings a different point of view. Advisors do take the number of proposed speakers, along with each speaker’s expertise (along with their diversity of voice, experience, and perspective), into account when evaluating submissions. 

What are some ways to help my proposal stand out?

While our advisors are industry veterans, please don’t assume they are masters of all domains. Submissions are stronger the more accessible they are—for both attendees and advisors. The best speakers are the ones able to make complex material (including topics like specialized math or specific hardware internals) as open as possible to interested attendees.

Your submission should make it clear what the wins and costs/drawbacks of your approach or technique are. Ideally it should include some quantifiable data when applicable, even if the non-final stages (not shipped yet, but will by GDC).

It's okay to leave open other possible structures of your talk that focus on different aspects of your approach, technique, or idea. Sometimes it can be a challenge to see through the myopia of implementation about what may be interesting to others. If you have other approaches to your talk in mind, please include some comments about those.

And finally, describing your talk’s subject matter isn't usually enough to get accepted. Your submission will be much stronger if your proposal goes into detail about how it will be structured. Share your key talking points and make sure the advisors understand the beats and structure of your presentation, even in this early proposal stage. Bullet points are an excellent tool in mapping this out.

Does GDC offer financial assistance to speakers?

Every year, the Game Developers Conference accepts over 800 speakers for its non-sponsored program. The conference organizers have implemented a Speaker Support Program aimed to provide financial and/or hotel assistance to as many speakers who may need financial aid as possible.

Speakers will be able to apply for speaker support upon notification of acceptance or phase 2 conditional acceptance into the GDC program. Applying for speaker support does not have any impact on final decisions for official acceptance into the program.

Do I need PR approval from my company?

Yes! Please get clearance from your company’s PR department before submitting. If you have any reason to suspect that you will need approvals for your materials, start on them right away. Every year we lose around a dozen talks due to various legal and corporate issues. Don't let this happen to you! 

If your legal team has questions they can contact [email protected] (Core Concepts & GCS) and [email protected] (Summits).

What is Phase II and why is it necessary for final acceptance?

Phase II is when the Advisory Board lets submitters know if a proposal has been Accepted, Declined, or advances to Phase II Conditional Acceptance. For GDC Core Concepts, submitters will know by late September. For GDC Summits, submitters will know by late November.

If a proposal has been Conditionally Accepted, submitters will be asked to make some revisions, which will be due in about a month after being notified of Phase II Conditional Acceptance. Please note: Most proposals will reach Phase II Conditional Acceptance before being accepted into GDC. 

We understand that putting together a good GDC talk is a lot of work, but speakers often find this process very rewarding. During Phase II, you’ll receive guidance from an experienced GDC advisor who’ll provide the support you need as you work on your talk. You will produce an outline and supporting visuals that tell a strong, compelling story, with your GDC advisor working with you to try to get an outline in place that will make the actual slide deck into a polish pass.

The goal of this step is to get a "substantially complete presentation". We say "substantially" complete because advisors are not focused on appealing slides or transitions or even, generally, in exact wording: We are trying to make sure the presentation is comprehensive and that it builds to a set of identifiable takeaways. The end result is more than an outline, but less than a showable deck. There will be plenty of time for the polish in Phase III and beyond.

How long is Phase II?

Phase II typically lasts 3-4 weeks.

What happens then?

The Advisory Board will review Phase II revisions and send out final acceptances or declines by November or December. If you’ve been selected, congratulations and it’s time to get ready to present at the Game Developers Conference! 

For a full list of requirements, proposal examples, and other information related to the Game Developers Conference, head to our Call for Submissions page here: Core Concepts or Summits & Game Career Seminar (Coming soon!). You're also encouraged to subscribe to the Call for Submissions mailing list, which will provide updates on deadlines and other key information.  

If you have any further questions about submitting a proposal for the Game Developers Conference, please contact Conference Producers [email protected] (Core Concepts & GCS) and [email protected] (Summits).


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