GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) Summits, Game Career Seminar and GDC Masterclass Call for Submissions will be open September 1 through October 7, 2022 at 11:59pm PT.

The GDC Core Concepts call for submissions is open until August 16, 2022 at 11:59pm PT.

If you are interested in hosting a GDC Masterclass course at GDC22, please review the GDC Masterclass Submission Guidelines, as course proposal requirements and formats follow a different setup from conference talks.

For any questions about Summits, Game Career Seminar, Core Concepts, and GDC Masterclass, please email Ashley Corrigan.

GDC Summits (including the Future Realities Summit, formerly VRDC) are curated deep dives into specific pre-determined topics, covering a comprehensive range of game development disciplines. Summits are programmed by their respective Summit Advisors. The GDC Summits solicit proposals from speakers with deep industry expertise and innovative ideas from a particular niche or emerging area of the game industry. Submission criteria and guidelines are available below. The following GDC Summits are seeking speaking proposals:

  • Advanced Graphics Summit
  • AI Summit
  • Animation Summit
  • Art Direction Summit
  • Audio Summit
  • Board Game Design Summit
  • Community Management Summit
  • Educators Summit
  • Esports Summit
  • Fair Play Summit
  • Free to Play Summit
  • Future Realities Summit (formerly VRDC)
  • Game Narrative Summit
  • Independent Games Summit
  • Level Design Summit
  • Machine Learning Summit
  • Math in Game Development Summit
  • Online Game Technology Summit
  • Open Source Game Development Summit
  • Production Essentials Summit
  • Technical Artist Summit
  • Tools Summit
  • UX Summit
  • Visual Effects Summit

*Game Design Workshop and Storytelling Fundamentals Workshop will remain independently curated and are not accepting submissions.

Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit, please take note of the following:

Diversity and Representation

GDC aims to achieve diversity of voice, experience, and perspective. Please take this goal into consideration when considering who would be best to speak on behalf of your company or department and/or when submitting panelists.

Vendor-Specific Proposals

GDC does not accept product or vendor-related submissions. If your talk is a thinly veiled advertisement for a new product, technology or service your company is offering, please do not submit. If you would like to publicize a product, please visit the become a sponsor page for more information on sponsored sessions.

Original Authors

GDC only accepts submissions by original authors of the presentations. PR firms, speaking relation firms, and all other parties who are not direct authors of submitted presentations are discouraged from submitting a proposal on behalf of their clients/speakers. GDC requires direct contact with presenters to expedite questions during the submission review process.


Phase I: Prepare & Submit Session Proposal

  • Speaker Contact Information
  • Session TitleProvide a session title in fewer than 10 words. Please try to include keywords, topics, and game titles covered by your talk.
  • Track, Format, and Delivery Format
  • Presentation Outline Details (For Advisors Only)You have approximately 500 words to outline and thoroughly describe to the GDC Summit Advisors what your talk will be about, and why it will be interesting to GDC attendees. This is NOT the abstract for your talk on the GDC website or published event agenda. This section will NOT be published. It is for you to describe concretely and succinctly what is compelling about your talk, provide supporting data, and outline your presentation in detail to the Summit Advisors. Submissions with thin presentation outline details (e.g. less than 400 words) will most likely be declined by advisors due to lack of information required to evaluate the presentation and its impact.  Do not tease with something like, "My lecture will reveal amazing findings about how people play puzzle platformers," instead say, "We have found 90% of people only play puzzle platformers while eating pepperoni pizza," or whatever your amazing finding actually is. If you need more than 500 words to describe your lecture in this way, you can upload supplemental materials (.doc, .pdf, .txt) to your submission.
  • Speaker Biography, Game Credits, Speaker History and Twitter username (Biography and Twitter will be posted on website)
  • Session Description (For Website)In 100-150-words, provide a concise description of your session. This is the abstract of your talk that will be published on the GDC website. If your company requires PR approval prior to publishing, please note that this section will be made public upon official acceptance. Write in 3rd person, present tense.
  • Attendee Takeaway (For Website)In 50-words or less, tell us what attendees will gain from this presentation. Be specific by giving concrete examples and remember that GDC attendees are experts in their field. This will be published on the GDC website. If your company requires PR approval prior to publishing, please note that this section will be made public upon official acceptance. Do not use bullet points, write in 3rd person present tense.
  • Intended Audience (For Website)In 50-words or less, describe your target audience and who will benefit from your presentation. Is prerequisite knowledge necessary for understanding the content of the session? If so, what are the prerequisites? This will be published on the GDC website. If your company requires PR approval prior to publishing, please note that this section will be made public upon official acceptance. Do not use bullet points, write in 3rd person present tense.
  • Supporting material (For Advisors Only)It is optional to submit supplemental information that supports your session proposal. Additional materials may include white papers, code, demos, videos, images, proof of concept, etc. Supporting materials will NOT be published on the GDC website and are solely for the GDC Summit Advisors during submission review.

Phase II: Session Proposal Review, Selection & Notification

  • Summit Advisors reviews submissions in October.
  • Submitters are notified of their status early November: Phase 2 Conditionally Accepted, Declined, or Accepted
  • Phase 2 submitters will be required to prepare the complete presentation for review by the Summit Advisors*
  • Phase 2 submissions are due early December.

*Note: You are not a confirmed speaker until your Phase 2 presentation is reviewed and approved by the Summit Advisors. Most GDC talks are Phase 2 conditionally accepted prior to official acceptance. In Phase 2, submitters will receive feedback from a GDC Summit Advisor, whose aim is to maximize takeaway for the audience, align content with the editorial goals of the topic or summit they advise (see track descriptions and topics of interest below), and ultimately help prepare you for a successful talk. All GDC Summit Advisors are game industry and GDC veterans with extensive expertise in their respective fields.

Phase III: Final Review & Confirmations

  • Summit Advisor reviews Phase 2 presentation revisions in November and December
  • Phase 2 submitters are notified of their status at mid-December through early January: Declined or Accepted
  • Submitters who miss the deadline to submit their presentation plans for review will be automatically declined; exceptions will not be made.
  • Submitters who sent in their presentation by the deadline but were not accepted to speak can receive a discount on a conference pass. To request, please contact Molly Portillo.

Selection Criteria

The Summit Advisors will review and rate submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Concept: This is the basic idea of your submission. Is it interesting? Is it relevant? Will it be beneficial for game developers to hear? There is plenty of room for innovative ideas and also the tried and true.
  • Depth: Is the basic idea well considered and thought out? To what extent will the audience gain insight? The more in-depth, the better.
  • Organization: Are your ideas conducive to present in front of an audience? Will the Summit Advisors understand what you are trying to say? Organization helps.
  • Credentials: How do your credentials qualify you to speak on the topic you have proposed?
  • Takeaway: Is the attendee going to leave this session knowing something they didn't know when they walked in? Are they learning or being inspired? This is the most important aspect of every Summit session. The submissions will be rated on a one to five scale by each of the reviewers and the resulting scores are averaged. Submissions in each category with the highest scores are considered first. If there is too much topic overlap, a lesser scoring submission may be selected to keep variety in the program.


Speaker Expectations

GDC attendees are very intelligent. They are looking for material that is not obvious and expect excellence from GDC speakers. After your presentation, they will evaluate it based on delivery, knowledge of the topic and the visuals presented.

Preparation is one of the most important factors in delivering a successful talk at GDC. Please keep the following in mind when you propose to speak:

  • The proposed outline you submit now must match the talk you present at the Summit. Consider the talk’s duration and submit content accordingly.
  • Plan to commit AT LEAST 25 HOURS to prepare for your session.
  • Rehearse the delivery of your session to be more effective; preferably in front of your peers and/or record yourself speaking then review it. Both are great ways to practice pacing and timing. Your presentation materials must be completed and submitted four weeks before GDC.
  • Please note the Summit Advisors and content team are here to help. If you have ANY additional speaking questions you’d like GDC to cover, please email Molly Portillo.

Summit Descriptions & Topics of Interest

The Summit Advisors are seeking proposals on the following topics, which are the foundation of the programs this year. However, feel free to submit your own original ideas for consideration as well. At GDC, we aim to achieve diversity of voice, experience, and perspective. When considering who would be best to speak on behalf of your company or department, we strongly encourage taking this goal into consideration.

Select any summit listed below to view its description and topics of interest.

The field of real-time graphics is made exciting by how rapidly it evolves and advances. This one-day summit provides professional insights into the state-of-the-art graphical techniques used by some of the most visually advanced games on the planet. It provides attendees with a peek behind the curtains so they may learn about the latest technologies that bring new levels of realism, speed-of-light performance, and even more beautiful pixels to their favorite games! The summit strives to focus on vendor-neutral techniques so that each session will have the potential to benefit all engines and shaders.

Summit speakers will dive deep into the technical details and optimizations that drive the graphical fidelity of their games, sharing both lessons learned as well as ideas for future directions and advancements. Attendees of the summit should be familiar with modern rendering APIs such as DirectX or Vulkan, real-time shading languages, the basics of GPU programmable pipelines, as well as common real-time graphics algorithms. Some knowledge of game engine rendering architecture is helpful but not strictly required. The target audience includes graphics programmers, game engine programmers, technical artists, and other graphics enthusiasts.

The Advanced Graphics Summit welcomes submissions covering a range of modern rendering techniques, such as:

  • Rendering complex, detailed worlds, including advanced techniques in scene and geometric representation, instancing, visibility/occlusion detection, and level-of-detail systems.
  • Physically based material shading and reflectance models
  • Advances in lighting, shadowing, and real-time raytracing
  • Rendering of natural phenomenon such as atmospheric, volumetric, and weather effects
  • Rendering of special effects such as explosions, dynamic damage simulation, breakable surfaces, and particle-based effects
  • Advances in character rendering, skin shading, and realism
  • New post-processing, anti-aliasing, frame treatment, and screen-space techniques
  • Advanced rendering engine architecture as well as optimization techniques and strategies 

Presenters are expected to share enough detail about their techniques that attendees could reasonably replicate the presented results or directly apply the lessons learned in their own games, engines, and graphical projects.

The GDC AI Summit features panels and lectures from top game AI programmers, designers, researchers, and AI enthusiasts in the industry. This two-day summit promises to give you an inside look at key architectures, techniques, and issues within successful commercial games, as well as let you eavesdrop on conversations, debates, and rants on how game AI can move forward. The event is targeted toward the intermediate to advanced programmer who wants deeper insight into the world of game AI. Additionally, designers, animators, and other content creators whose work touches AI systems of all types will find invaluable insights and lessons from the speakers.

The AI Summit is welcoming submissions on AI-related topics such as:

  • Postmortems of the AI in recently released (or soon to be released) games - especially with a focus of "challenges faced... and overcome!"
  • Advancements and improvements in AI architectures (e.g. behavior trees, planners, utility systems, MCTS, etc.)
  • New architectures and approaches for AI-related problems (e.g. data-driven, modular systems, etc.)
  • AI authoring tools
  • Improvements in navigation and avoidance algorithms
  • Animation control through AI systems
  • Multi-agent coordination in tactical, strategic, or social situations
  • Use of AI for content generation in games
  • Use of AI for gameplay management, pacing, etc.
  • Non-traditional uses of AI in game development applications (e.g. tools, debugging, etc.)
  • AI for narrative generation and chatbots
  • AI in VR, mixed reality, and AR
  • Experimental AI designs

Note that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list of suggestions. All submissions of presentations that involve the use of AI techniques in games will be entertained!

Skilled video game animators wield a unique blend of art, design and technical prowess to get the job done, and the Animation Summit is at the forefront of sharing the relevant knowledge with developers everywhere. This one-day summit brings together a group of experienced and specialized animation experts across AAA and Indie. The Animation Summit is seeking submissions from developers across the industry to focus on deep-dive discussions into the needs of strong character performances and player communication. Submission topics of interest include all facets of animation expertise: 'traditional' focused talks on animation process, technical achievements, bite-sized tips and tricks, insight into animation culture, and how to best apply all that knowledge to game development. Through a variety of tools and disciplines, the day will show how the unique demands of game creation is creating the need not just for great animators, but great developers.

The Art Direction Summit is a one-day summit, completely dedicated to art direction and broader artistic vision. Come see the leading artistic forces of the industry share their experience and raise the most important issues of the day. Learn a ton about what really matters in art, and how to build or support a vision and make friends doing it. There will be a wealth of concentrated art-specific information from the top minds of the industry that should be interesting not just to veterans and seasoned art professionals, but also new artists and faculty/students who are interested in learning more about the pressing issues of the day and industry realities. New friends who are also passionate about game art are welcome. The Art Direction Summit advisors welcome all submission topics related to art direction, technical pipelines, and new means of collaboration (especially during this past year) for games development.

The GDC Audio Summit consists of presentations that reflect a full-spectrum of interactive audio disciplines and serves as an introduction to the Audio Track at GDC. Focused on the technical, creative, and logistical topics surrounding the successful navigation of sound for games, this one-day Audio Summit uniquely balances deep knowledge-sharing with breadth of applicability to the entire audience. The summit aims to serve programmers and content authors, specialists and generalists, veterans and novices, and both freelance and in-house audio solution providers.

The Audio Summit actively pursues and celebrates a diverse slate of industry presenters, with more than 100 unique speakers over the Summit’s history. Audio Summit advisors are seeking novel and diverse perspectives that can be applied to everyone creating sound for interactive media. Specific topics of interest include (but are not limited to) career development and health, music, sound design, dialogue, technical sound design and implementation, and other emerging topics relating to audio for interactive entertainment.

The Board Game Design Summit is a one-day deep dive into the art and science of designing non-electronic board (and card) games.

Featuring multiple notable speakers from the world of board game design, this is an opportunity to get deep into the design mechanics behind innovative and popular board games, and hear about the design ethos that has shaped standouts in the resurgent world of board game development.

The Board Game Design Summit is looking for talks including:

  • ‘Making of’ talks for notable and intriguing board and card games of medium or high profiles, or those with particularly different or innovative mechanics.
  • Game design talks about entire genres of board/card games.
  • Discussions of physical board games that have digital aspects included. (Digital-only board games are not a primary focus of the Summit.)
  • Talks about some of the fundamental concepts underpinning board game or card game design.

This summit is your one-day "deep dive" of this essential and occasionally overlooked (until it's too late) component of video game development. Having discussed the common issues that can be problems in our well-established industry, we are now taking a break from well-worn rants, ruminations on toxic communities, and beginner-level topics. It’s time to create practical, achievable solutions. Additionally, all initial submissions should include supporting data.

Who should submit: Experienced, creative, underrepresented, and currently practicing community management professionals. We are looking for new and diverse voices and single speaker talks vs panels to provide opportunities to a wider range of people. We also want this summit to reflect our industry’s increased scope of professionals (including e-sports, indie, and tabletop)! 

Topics to get you started:

Career development

  • finding your path (and/or possibly changing tracks), specializations, voice, style, and resources to get you there
  • the job hunt: resources, strategies, negotiation, full time vs contracts, remote vs onsite

Building and sustaining successful community departments 

  • hiring, recruiting, retention, making sure your team reflects your community
  • dividing and conquering: creating delegation of tasks at scale

Tools of the trade

  • strategies for social listening tools in conjunction with being community embedded
  • the platforms of yesterday, today, and tomorrow and making the case for (or against) each
  • qualitative vs quantitative data: picking the right metrics for business goals, how to talk “numbers and feelings” effectively, etc.
  • compliance and policy strategies in the age of increasing global privacy concerns

Communities of the future

  • case studies of your pandemic solutions/wins, post-mortems from existing communities
  • accessibility and representation for new and existing communities

The Educators Summit is dedicated to bringing forward the most innovative and exciting ideas in game education today. Attendees will discover new experimental and inventive educational approaches as well as best practices that they can bring back to their faculty and classrooms. This one day summit brings together educators from established game development programs with new game course creators that want to understand the challenges they'll face in the next few years. It is a great professional development opportunity that will explore how new areas of game education will advance the field for the next generation of students.

Who Should Submit

You're an inspired educator with some great ideas to share with others about teaching game design/development, to improve everyone's practice. You've done some ground-breaking work on your curriculum or research that we can all use to improve what we are doing with students. You have a unique point of view on teaching game design/development that you haven't seen anywhere else, that you know could add value. You have an idea for a panel, and can assemble some great speakers from various schools to speak to a particular topic. We are looking for new voices, so if you haven't submitted before, please consider doing so. There is probably something amazing and unique about how YOU do things that we would all benefit from hearing about. We are particularly interested in hearing from programs/people who may not be regular attendees.


The audience consists of educators of game development and studies (working in the context of community college, four-year college/university and graduate education programs). Most attendees are at schools that already have well-established game programs and courses of study (or else they will be in a few short years, once they work the kinks out of a newly-developed program). The Educators Summit is soliciting for the following topics:

  • Inspired approaches to teaching any aspect of game development or game studies.
  • Novel ways to fund or publish games research, student game projects, etc.
  • Proven best practices for successful programs, courses and research structures.
  • Strategies for encouraging and teaching diverse student communities.
  • Teaching game design/development online.

Annual lecture themes

If you're interested in submitting a talk to one of our annual lecture themes, be sure to note that in the "Presentation Outline" section of the submission form. These themes include:

  • Course case studies - Short presentations (30 min) on the design of a specific course with strong proven results.
  • Soapbox - Short presentations (7-10 min) with sharp, pointed commentary on current issues in the state of game education.

Tips for submissions, based on some common mistakes we've seen:

  • The Educators Summit is not about serious games, it is about how to teach people about games (how to make games, how to analyze and understand games, issues around graduate research in games, etc.) A talk about teaching serious game development, or a game that helps teach about games, would be appropriate for the Educators Summit. Case studies of serious games that have nothing to do with game education are not.
  • Don't focus the proposal too much on the speaker and their contributions to the field. If you have an interesting project or case study to share, that's great, but be clear about the audience takeaways. How will attending your talk help hundreds of other educators do their job better?
  • Speakers vs panels: Single speaker sessions are the most successful structure. It is difficult to justify two or more speakers for a lecture format, so please consider that. Panels should be considered if your topic would benefit from multiple perspectives, and each speaker on a panel should represent a distinct aspect or point of view of the topic, typically from different institutions as well.
  • Make sure your topic isn't a beginner-level topic, such as "How to start a game development program", which has been covered many times before. When writing your proposal, it may be useful to look at session names and descriptions for the last three years (and watch talks related to your topic on In this way we can build up our collective understanding of the theory and practice of game education.
  • Takeaways and topics should be immediately clear from the initial read. Make it obvious why your peers would want to watch your proposed talk. This isn't the time to conceal information. A proposal titled "Five Things You Can Do to Improve Student Retention" should list what those five things are. Give us enough information to evaluate your talk.

We try not to include sessions in the schedule that seem too similar to a session we’ve had in recent years. So it’s good to look at the list of previous Educators Summit sessions in the Vault to see if we’ve covered your proposed topic recently. If we have covered the topic recently, make sure to include how you’re differentiating yourself from the previous session in your submission.

Esports Summit is a full-day series of panels and presentations focused on cultivating a competitive game's esports ecosystem to attract and support professional players and teams, journalists, content creators, and grassroots player organizations. Join the one-day Esports Summit and learn about growing your esports ecosystem alongside long-time developers, publishers, and esports community leaders! The summit is welcomes all submission topics related to esports.

The Fair Play Alliance is pleased to invite all proposals for the Fair Play Summit relating to practical design methods, learnings, and outcomes, or applied research on prosocial game behaviour. 

This year the focus is on how we can design for and cultivate healthy spaces, with a particular emphasis on proactive approaches that reduce the incidence of disruptive or harmful behaviour in the first place. Thus, we will be looking for submissions that focus on how we can identify and encourage positive behaviours in games and gaming-related spaces, design for and support more resilient communities that repel or resist bad actors, encourage greater individual well being in players, and promote a sense of belonging among our players.

The Fair Play Alliance is an organization of over 200 gaming companies from around the world committed to fostering healthy player interactions as a core part of how we make games. With this goal, we seek to curate and empower the creation and sharing of best practices across the industry. Please note that FPA membership is not required to submit a proposal.

The GDC Free-to-Play Summit brings together top game publishers and developers from around the world to share ideas and discuss best practices for free-to-play gaming, which has become the dominant business model for mobile games and many other platforms. This two-day program will focus on the nuts and bolts of great free-to-play game design and successful business strategies across all genres, audiences, platforms, and stages of the lifecycle of a game.

The Free-to-Play Summit is soliciting for the following topics:

  • Post mortems on the launch of new free-to-play games, or post mortems on major updates to existing free-to-play games, especially examples from outside mobile gaming and/or outside North America.
  • Strategies for launching across multiple territories.
  • Strategies for launching across multiple platforms.
  • Soft launch best practices: why, when, where, and what to look for?
  • Improving both player experience and revenue performance via skillful integration of monetization elements into the game design.
  • Authentic and non-spammy social and viral engagement techniques.
  • User acquisition techniques, learnings, and innovations for both paid and organic user acquisition (e.g. influencers, surviving IDFA). 
  • Pros & cons: staying independent versus working with a publisher or partner.
  • A survey of which genres are ripe for additional competitors, and what genres are too crowded (or too dominated by a single unassailable market leader).
  • How to build and maintain a community of loyal players. Share new insights, stories and experiences.
  • Keeping your players hooked: how to be sticky in a low-attention-span world.
  • Free to play games designed for non-traditional gaming audiences.
  • How to augment your IAP revenue with rewarded video and other forms of advertising.
  • What does free-to-play mean in a world of subscriptions services? (e.g. Xbox Game Pass, Stadia)
  • Good ways to include subscriptions and learnings from implementing subscriptions in individual free-to-play games.
  • Live ops and events: best examples of how to keep your game fresh and increase monetization.
  • The pandemic has changed player habits and behaviors; what lessons can we learn from that?
  • Innovative usage of analytics in games and how it impacted design/product decisions.

Game and Entertainment design opportunities in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Human Spatial Computing are once again expanding as the technology of internet-connected societies continues to iterate. Exciting new opportunities are appearing in areas like online and social play, live music, fashion and education as we connect with one another virtually through new hardware and software platforms. Continuing development is expanding opportunities in Travel, Retail, Fitness/Wellness, Product Design, Journalism, and Sports Entertainment as well. If you're developing an immersive experience or application in gaming and beyond, we want to hear about it!

The Summit advisors are soliciting submissions exploring VR, AR, XR and other innovations in connected games and entertainment pertaining to topics across multiple disciplines including Design, Narrative, Production, Programming, and Visual Art. We are especially interested in hybrid approaches in this space, as games become part of the larger push to virtualize and gamify once in-person spaces in order to increase access and maintain connection during the pandemic.  Submissions should be representative of interesting and current work happening in these spaces, and have valuable, actionable, and/or inspiring takeaways for the GDC audience.

The Game Narrative Summit covers interactive narrative in all its forms, from AAA blockbusters to indie games to mobile/social projects. The two-day event features an all-star lineup of speakers from every corner of the discipline. Session content ranges from the advanced and theoretical to practical case studies and advocacy for writers, designers, producers, and others seeking to expand their understanding of game narrative. The Game Narrative Summit attracts attendees from all over the world with a passionate interest in the ongoing evolution of interactive storytelling as a driving force in the future of entertainment.

The summit's preferred submission format is 30-minute lectures, though we may consider longer talks for subjects that warrant more in-depth approaches. The board reserves the right to suggest changes in any submissions.

The Game Narrative Summit welcomes proposals addressing all aspects of game narrative, including (but not limited to!):

  • Case studies of recent projects that demonstrate exemplary game writing
  • Fresh takes on traditional narrative techniques as adapted for interactive storytelling
  • Theoretical and conceptual advances that drive change in game narrative
  • New insights into the role of the interactive writer in franchise development
  • Analyses of timely issues in the game narrative field, e.g. inclusivity, ethical dilemmas, etc.
  • Spotlighting best practices within specific areas of interactive writing, including:
  • Narrative and emergent game technologies, e.g. VR, AR
  • Narrative in mobile, social, and casual games
  • The writing of specific game genres, e.g. FPS, RPG, MMO, MOBA, etc.
  • Resonating with specific target audiences, e.g. children, international markets, etc.
  • Advancing specific objectives, e.g. awareness, change
  • Navigating the challenges inherent to certain types of game projects
  • Focused insights on any specific elements of game narrative, e.g. character, dialogue
  • Lessons drawn from games that go beyond dialogue and focus on non-verbal narrative
  • Adapting narrative constructs from other media to games, e.g. film, comics, literature
  • Inspirational demonstrations in emotive game content
  • Business and career advice to help game writers succeed professionally
  • Verifiable evidence of the positive effects interactive storytelling can have
  • Experts debating opposing points of view on any of these topics

The Independent Games Summit is the place for the independent game developer at GDC. It features lectures, postmortems, and panels from notable independent game creators, including many former and current Independent Games Festival finalists and winners. This two-day summit seeks to achieve diversity of voice, experience and perspective, while highlighting the best and brightest in indie development.

Discussion topics range from game design philosophy to art, programming, distribution, business, marketing, and much more. The IGS will again use a main, large room alongside a simultaneous second smaller room - for deep-dive subjects and focused talks that we would otherwise be unable to fit into the program. Please submit with this in mind!

The IGS is soliciting for the following topics:

  • Design and Philosophy - design techniques particularly suited to indies, such as rapid prototyping or voluntary constraints, as well as more abstract talks on how you approach indie limitations - we often compile an hour of more 'out there' lectures, so don't hesitate! We’re also interested in the philosophies underlying your games - do you have a talk about how your game represents an indigenous perspective? Or how you approached ethical design practices? Tell us more!
  • Case Studies and Post-mortems - inspirational talks that demonstrate what worked, what didn't, what surprised you and made you wiser. Postmortems don't have to only talk about breakaway hits- failure discussions are great too, and the process can be more enlightening than the commercial outcomes! If your own project did not yield enough data for a talk on a certain topic, consider consolidating ideas from your peers or people with similar games.
  • Discipline Deep Dives - each discipline in video game development encounters unique challenges working in the independent space. Building games on your own often requires deep, specialized learning in new areas. Talks for specific audiences about advanced techniques in Engineering, Design, Art, Audio, Production/Project Management, UI/UX, or Storytelling, are welcome and encouraged.
  • Indie Business - how to fund your project, ship a profitable game, what tools to use, how to manage teams, pick the right platform, and run a company without self-destructing.
  • Promotion & Marketing - how to get noticed, build an audience, or even a community, when the "Marketing Department" is one person.
  • Managing Teams - how to manage and model healthy work/life balance, what are your successful diverse hiring practices, how do you scale a team in a healthy and productive manner, how to lead teams under difficult circumstances, remote working best practices and speculations on what the post-COVID world impact is/might be on management practices
  • Production Methods - how to cut scope for an ambitious project while retaining creative quality, how to sustain a business during negative economic circumstances, and in general, ways to build great games better, faster, and cheaper.
  • Indie Publisher & Producer perspectives - are you an indie publisher? Do you have insights on the market, ecology, and indie game design and development that you can share? We want to hear more!
  • Annual lecture themes: if you're interested in submitting to give a microtalk in one of our annual 60–minute group sessions, such as the Indie Soapbox, the Failure Workshop, the Tech Toolbox, or Making Room, be sure to note that in the Presentation Outline section of the submission form

The Level Design Summit offers an all-day series of talks spanning the vast spectrum of this crucial aspect of game design. The Level Design Summit advisors curate a diverse mix of established and emerging voices from all corners of the level design world to present an entertaining and enlightening agenda of talks for attendees. The one-day summit is seeking submissions that share specific techniques, in-depth analysis of shipped games, introspective explorations of "big" concepts that affect level designers/teams, and provide guides to process and workflow related to level design.

Academia and other industries show that rapid technological progress offers new possibilities and valuable applications of Machine Learning. The Game Industry is no different and this one-day Summit will present in depth, meaningful applications in Video Games across two themes. The first theme is about “Machine Learning for Development”, assessing where Machine Learning can assist developers in creating better Games, improving Production Process, allowing them to improve and facilitate the Creation Process of their games. The second theme will be about “Machine Learning for the Player”, assessing what new possibilities can be offered to the Player, ranging from being able to create new, original experiences to better adapting Games to Players’ needs as they play.

Speakers contributing will go in depth when necessary in required techniques and most importantly, share practical lessons and wisdom regarding their success and failures. Attendees of the Summit should be familiar with basic Machine Learning techniques and in the “know-how” of Video Game Creation Techniques. The target audience includes a wide range of trades including Programmers, Artists, and Designers.

The Machine Learning Summit is welcoming submissions on topics related to Machine Learning such as:

  • Initiatives that contribute directly to runtime features like AI, Physics, Animation, Audio or Rendering.
  • Initiatives that contribute to support Content Creation Process, Development Pipeline, Build Stability, QA, Game Balancing or Production
  • Advancements and improvements from Academia that could be applied in the near future to the field
  • Lessons learned from attempt of deployment of a Machine Learning Driven System in general (human/tech)
  • Successful deployment of Player-Facing System
  • Initiatives related to a specific trade that point towards disruption in how Developers are making games

In all cases, being able to show measurable results is a must. Note that since this field is new, cases of application failure are welcome! Being able to share code/structure is also encouraged.

As gamers and gaming platforms continue to evolve and diversify, so has the complexity and variety of problems facing the modern game programmer. Creating the latest code for graphics, gameplay, animation, physical simulation, artificial intelligence, and procedural generation requires thorough knowledge of the necessary mathematical underpinnings. This one-day summit continues the tradition of the "Math for Games" tutorial by presenting talks on a wide variety of math-related subjects relevant to game developers of all disciplines.

The Online Game Technology Summit will cover all aspects of the technical challenges that go into developing, deploying, scaling and maintaining systems that support online, connected and multiplayer games across all game platforms. This one-day summit will focus on production use cases and real-world examples from industry professionals currently working as engineers, operations teams and related roles supporting these systems.

Presentation topics include cloud native gaming, multiplayer game topologies and architectures, matchmaking, game data storage, analytics, synchronizing physics simulations, client and server-side networking, infrastructure management, system scaling, operations and monitoring, security and related subjects.

Open Source went in the last 30 years from a curiosity to a pervasive way people build software, with many areas of software development working on technology stacks that are 100% open source. And for good reason: community collaboration has led to the situation where the highest quality library or tool for a particular purpose is usually an open source one.

Game development has always had its own software culture separate from the mainstream, and fast moving technology has meant closed source engines have been the norm for building games. But here too, open source is catching on and constitutes larger and larger portions of a game's technology stack, and bringing unique advantages and challenges with them.

This one day summit seeks to help game developers benefit from building larger portions of their game with open source technologies, and deal effectively with its challenges. The summit welcomes submission in areas related to open source game development, for example:

  • Studios that have shipped games with significant and/or new open source components that can tell us about benefits and challenges.
  • Creators of open source technologies that speak about the difficulties of running an open source community, how to collaborate with users, and how to evolve software with so many interested parties wanting different things from them. How game developers can work better with open source technology creators. How to better fund open source development.
  • Studios that have contributed significantly to existing open source projects they have adopted, and how that fit in their overall game development plan/schedule.
  • Studios that have made games that are entirely open source, and how that worked as a development and/or business model. How working in the open (on e.g. GitHub) helps or challenges game development.
  • Talks on open source tools that are peripheral to the actual game itself, such as build and CI tools, testing tools, tools related to maintaining an online service, with specific guidance on how these work better or worse for game development as opposed to the general software development for which they may have been created.

In all of these, summit advisors are looking for content that can help game developers make better games, not simple promotion of a particular technology / project.

A producer's role varies from team to team and across studios, but however you define it, production is critical to your game’s success. Good (or bad) production practices and methodologies can make or break a game's overall quality, build or destroy the team's health, and define a studio’s culture. The one-day Production Essentials Summit is seeking submissions from game production professionals that share their career experiences and illustrate best practices in production and team management.

Technical Art is an ever-evolving discipline, with TAs playing key roles in developing efficient pipelines, creating visually sophisticated content, and optimizing performance. Technical Artists bridge the gap between content creators and engineers and wear many hats in the process. No matter what role a TA plays on their project, they are ready to leap into action to collaborate and solve issues with their team. Now more than ever TAs have been employing their skills to respond to the global challenges and find creative and dynamic solutions to enable production during challenging times.

The one-day Technical Artist Summit aims to help TAs around the industry find and share the tools and skills they need to manage the turbulent waves of game development at their own studios or from their own homes. Speakers will present new tools, techniques, and turn our attention to the future of the Technical Art discipline. The Technical Artist Summit is seeking submissions covering any topic related to technical art.

The Tools Summit is a deep dive into the state-of-the-art techniques and processes for building tools that enable game development teams to meet and exceed their goals. Listen to experts from studios large and small talk about their experiences; what worked, what didn't, and how you can apply those lessons to your own work.

We are seeking:

  • A post-mortem for a major release of a sophisticated tool (or narrowly focused suite of tools)
  • The story of how you considered and implemented a significant change in your studio's asset pipeline, content organization, or underlying tools infrastructure
  • The story of how you improved the user experience and/or usability of your game development tools
  • A tour through what studio services are key to improving efficiency, teamwork/collaboration, game stability, mitigating technical debt, etc…
  • Case studies of content creation tools and workflow outside of the games industry (such as VFX / Movies), and what the games industry can learn from them
  • Do you have an idea for a game development tools talk that's not listed here? We want to hear it!

The one-day GDC UX Summit features panels and lectures from top UX practitioners and advocates in the industry. This summit is targeted towards all levels of expertise interested in game UX and focuses on best practices and case studies rather than pure theory. The intent is to increase UX awareness (specifically as being user-centered and using a scientific approach), become stronger as a game UX community, share our growing experience and expertise in the industry, and push the boundaries of our discipline.

The UX Summit is welcoming submissions on UX-related topics in the following areas:

  • UX advocacy, strategy & maturity (using a rigorous user-centered practice): advancing UX maturity in studios, demonstrating ROI (return on investment),  getting stakeholder signoff, facilitating collaboration for better UX practices across various disciplines, UX best practices for AAA, AA, or indie developers, etc.
  • UX design:
    • Case study of a feature (i.e. describing the iterative process, demonstrating what success looks like), making sure to show user data-informed examples.
    • Game post-mortems through the UX lens (i.e. user-centered at a minimum).
    • Platform specific challenges (e.g. VR, AR).
  • Esports: specific UX challenges 
  • New technology in games: the impact of recenttech such as blockchain technology or machine learning on game UX.
  • Ethics: best practices & challenges (e.g. dark patterns, attention economy).
  • Inclusion (including accessibility): best practices and guidelines.
  • Designing to prevent disruptive behaviors (aka “toxicity”) and protect players: best practices and guidelines.
  • User research:
    • Successful relationship between user research and design.
    • Concrete case studies.
    • Advantages and limitations of biometrics.
  • Analytics and business intelligence servicing the player experience (case studies).

Visual effects (VFX) for games is the art of creating striking visuals that clearly communicate gameplay. With what seems like magic, VFX artists have the power to breathe life into the world of a video game and elevate game mechanics.

VFX in games have to run at real-time without impacting game performance (usually 60 to 90 frames per second). This means a lot of thought and creativity has to go into how they are built, as opposed to pre-rendered effects often found in film. However, understanding the technical and artistic skillset required to visually communicate these is daunting (if not a complete mystery) to most. Historically, the journey for VFX artists in acquiring those skills has been difficult; with artists generally finding ways to self-teach and learning on the job through trial and error. 

But today, VFX artists across the globe are building a strong and supportive community, sharing valuable knowledge and forging new paths in game development. Join members of this community at the VFX Summit, where VFX artists of different backgrounds will share their experiences and lessons learned across a diverse range of topics. 

This year, we look forward to covering subjects like the transition to cutting-edge VFX tools, impact of COVID & working remotely, pathways to becoming a VFX artist, crafting VFX for mobile & VR, outsourcing and contracting, the thinning veil between film & games, potential post-mortems and genre-specific tricks and techniques. If these sound like something you’d be excited to speak on, we encourage you to submit! This one-day summit welcomes all submission topics related to Real-time VFX.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the submission deadline?

The GDC Summits call for submissions deadline is Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 11:59 pm PT.


What makes a good submission?

  • Review the submission guidelines above and follow the instructions.
  • Incomplete proposals or proposals that are commercial or marketing in nature will not be considered.
  • Write your proposal so that it is easily understood. Concise, precise language and a discernible thesis will also help your chances in the review process.The advisors will read many submissions. Get to your point as quickly as possible. Consider what the proposal is about. Why is it interesting? How is it important to game development? What will game developers get out of the session?


What are the session formats?

The final length and format of accepted sessions will be determined by the advisors. Please select what you feel will be the most appropriate.

Lectures30 or 60 Minutes

Lectures are issue-oriented, provide concrete examples, and contain both practical and theoretical information.

GDC generally prefers only one speaker but we may accept two if you can demonstrate the second person is necessary.

Postmortems and case studies are included in this category.

Panels60 Minutes

Panels take many different viewpoints on a topic or issue and combine them in one debate session with a moderator.

Debate among panelists (with very different ­opinions) is welcome and audience Q&A time should be accounted for.

We prefer 60 minutes for this format and no more than 5 people with diverse representation. Include all the panelists you have confirmed in the proposal.

A very limited number of panels will be accepted.

How do I choose a session format?

60-minute lectures tend to be case studies or inspirational, high-level, detail-oriented talks. 30-minute lectures tend to cover a single, narrow topic in depth. Panels tend to examine a controversial or difficult topic with no easy answers and lots of interesting, diverse talking points; panels are always 60-minutes, which is enough time for about eight planned questions. In all cases, expect to leave a few minutes at the end for Q&A.

Also consider who is speaking. Most lectures are given by a single person, unless there is a compelling reason that requires multiple speakers. Panels generally have a moderator and three or four panelists with unique experience or viewpoints who are known experts on the topic.

How does the submission and selection process work?

  • We will email you a confirmation when we receive your proposal. If you do not receive this confirmation, contact Molly Portillo.
  • Save the link to your proposal, you can revise your submission details until the deadline.
  • The advisors will review all submissions in the coming months and determine the status.
  • GDC conference managers will notify you of the status of your submission by early November.

Who will review my proposal?

The GDC Summit Advisors review all submissions. Advisors to the specific Summit program you select will review your proposal. They are distinguished industry professionals who volunteer their time to help develop the numerous sessions at GDC. They work to ensure that the quality of the content provided to attendees is high-level, relevant, and timely. Game Career Seminar is programmed by GDC staff and the Gamasutra editorial team.

If I submit to the Summits, can I submit to Core Concepts, GDC Masterclass and/or Game Career Seminar too?

Yes. There is no penalty for submitting a proposal for the GDC Core Concepts, GDC Masterclass, and/or Game Career Seminar, however, should you submit the same topic more than once, keep your audience in mind and adjust similar content as you deem appropriate. Each program has its own advisors and will be reviewed separately.


What are the benefits of speaking?

The benefits of being a speaker include:

  • Complimentary registration
  • Access to all Core Concepts sessions, GDC Summits sessions, the Game Career Seminar, and the Expo floor
  • Speaker meal card for the Moscone Center
  • Your name and presentation featured in our conference program and website
  • A year subscription to the GDC Vault (recordings of all GDC events, past, and present)

How do I propose a vendor-specific session?

We want our talks to be opportunities for professional game developers to share their ideas and experiences. Proposals that are commercial or marketing in nature will not be considered. In general, content specific to proprietary products and technologies are considered sponsored material. The Summit Advisors and conference management reserve the right to exercise their editorial discretion. If you would like to publicize a product, please visit the become a sponsor page for more information on sponsored sessions.  

What does GDC expect from speakers?

When you agree to speak at GDC, you are making a commitment to deliver a well-prepared talk and to speak on the topic you have proposed. We ask that you do not drastically change the submitted topic or content. 

You will be evaluated by attendees on how well you delivered your presentation, aim to be among the top 50 presenters. 

We ask speakers to submit the final version of their presentation to be made available on the GDC Vault, so we can make it available online.

When will I be notified of the status of my submission?

You will receive an automated email response once your submission is received. We will notify you of the status of your submission by early November. If you do not hear from us, please contact Molly Portillo.

How should a PR Rep or Executive Assistant submit on behalf of a potential speaker?

First, it is ideal for the speakers themselves to submit as they can provide the most detail about the content. However, if you are a PR representative or someone submitting on behalf of a potential speaker, fill in the speaker's contact info in the first section and list the speaker's information in the speaker profile section, but be sure to add yourself as the 'PR contact' associated with the speaker profile(s). This will ensure that you receive all email correspondence relating to GDC in the same email as the speaker(s). Without complete speaker details, the submission will be considered incomplete and will not be able to advance until speaker contact info is received.

Please contact Molly Portillo with any additional questions.


Connecting the Global Game Development Community

GDC Vault icon
Game Developers Choice Awards icon
Independent Games Festival (IGF) icon icon