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. You can find those here.
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.
A full list of required materials and other key information is available here.
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.
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.
A full list of speaker size limits and recommendations is available here.
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?
Yes, GDC offers support stipends to speakers in need of assistance to attend and give their presentation at the event. Details about the program are sent to accepted speakers on a rolling basis about three months before the event. Accepted speakers can review the Online Speaker Lounge for more information and who to contact about 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].
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 2023, submitters will know by early October.
If a proposal has been Conditionally Accepted, submitters will be asked to make some revisions, which will be due later that month. Please note: Most proposals will reach Phase II Conditional Acceptance before being accepted into GDC 2023.
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 help 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. 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 Senior Conference Producer Ashley Corrigan at [email protected].