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GDC 2023 Session Guide for Audio and Game Music

Creating and sharing sound is one of the key ways to bring a video game to life. Audio and game music professionals heading to the Game Developers Conference: This Session Guide and Walkthrough will help you make the most of your GDC 2023

In our Audio track, join the game industry's top audio professionals to share knowledge and experience from the real world addressing, audio's unique aesthetic, technical, business, and logistical problems.

The track includes sessions from: Audio Summit. 

Sign Up For GDC 2023 Here

The 2023 Game Developers Conference features hundreds of sessions—covering nearly every discipline, topic, and focus that matters to game developers today. It can be hard to choose! That's why we've created this helpful guide. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

It features some standout sessions, panels, and events dedicated to helping your career and company growth efforts. In addition, we've got tips on making the most of your GDC, and links to GDC Vault videos and Game Developer articles that will help you get pumped for GDC 2023.

Be sure to visit our Session Viewer for a full list of Audio talks at GDC 2023 and get started on prepping that schedule (we will update with dates and times as they become available). Attendees can sign up for the specialty Audio Pass, which provides all Core and Summits sessions on the Audio track. 

Core Session Picks for: Audio

'Stray Gods': The Challenges of Creating an Interactive Musical
Austin Wintory (Composer, Independent)
Troy Baker (Voice Actor, Independent)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "Composer Austin Wintory and Director/Actor Troy Baker unpack the incredibly elaborate five-year process of writing, producing, and directing the interactive musical roleplaying game Stray Gods."

Breathing Life Into 'The Last of Us': Part I and II
Beau Jimenez (Senior Sound Designer, PlayStation Studios, Sound)
Jesse Garcia (Senior Sound Designer, Naughtydog)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "This talk outlines Naughty Dog's approach to conceptualizing, prototyping, collaborating, and finalizing a bleeding-edge breathing solution for a single-player, narrative-based interactive experience."

G.A.N.G. Demo Derby: Sound Design
Nick Hartman (Communications Manager & Producer, Game Audio Network Guild)
Brian Schmidt (Founder, GameSoundCon)
Shannon Potter (Studio Head, Formosa Interactive)
Paul Lipson (Senior Vice President, Formosa Group)
Becky Allen (Audio Director , Twin Suns Corp)

Location: Room 3006, West Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "The G.A.N.G. Sound Design Demo Derby is a longstanding tradition at GDC, and has been a cornerstone event for new and emerging audio professionals. Attendees can submit 120 seconds of their best work for a detailed critique and feedback from a team of leading audio directors and professionals."

The 'TUNIC' Audio Talk
Kevin Regamey (Creative Director, Power Up Audio)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "This session will cover establishing a creative direction early, using game design to inform audio decisions, methods used in sound effects design, and overcoming challenges in technical implementation."

'Need for Speed': Hyperreal Sound Design
Nathaniel Daw (Audio Director, Criterion Games)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Friday, March 24
Time: 11:30 am - 12:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "This talk is an overview of the audio vision for Need for Speed Unbound from Criterion Games. Nathaniel Daw (Audio Director) covers the audio pillars that defined the core of the audio experience of the game."

Summits Session Picks for: Audio

Audio Summit: The Art of the Theme
Brendon Williams (Senior Composer, Riot Games)
Jason Walsh (Composer, Riot Games)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "Join composers Brendon Williams and Jason Walsh as they go in-depth into the process for creating impactful themes through examples of League of Legends, Wild Rift, and more. This will cover everything from melodic writing, structure, and instrument choices, to musical sound design and advanced production techniques."

Audio Summit: An Important Conversation About Conversations
Maize Wallin (Audio Director, Ghost Pattern)
Tfer Newsome (Supervising Dialogue Editor, Ghost Pattern)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 10:50 am - 11:50 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "This presentation will explore the tech, "the talk," and the timelines of making the heartfelt narrative-driven interactive story Wayward Strand."

Audio Summit: Building Audio Careers, Together
ZW Buckley (Composer, Plant Based Audio)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 2:10 pm - 2:40 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "In this presentation, ZW Buckley, Composer at Plant Based Audio, will discuss how collaboration can benefit your game audio career casually, communally, and commercially."

Audio Summit: Sounds as Intended: Quality Assurance in Game Audio
Amanda Laven (Associate Test Analyst, Blizzard Entertainment)

Location: Room 3002, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Audio Pass
Description: "This talk will provide background information and strategies to help audio professionals work effectively with their QA teams—including what QA is and isn't, the activities testers perform, the information needed for efficient and thorough testing, the types of support QA can provide, and how to build a solid connection between audio and QA to ensure games sound as intended."

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your GDC

1. Join an Audio roundtable: Our talks and panels are amazing, but be sure to bookmark at least one Audio roundtable during your time at GDC. They're a great way to get hands-on with a topic of interest, as well as network with your industry colleagues. We've got Audio roundtables on Audio ProgrammingBuilding Soundscapes: Creative Direction for AudioGame Audio Business Essentials, and more. Head here for a full list of roundtables at GDC, with more being added regularly. 

2. Meet up in the Connect Lounge: The GDC 2023 Expo Floor features hundreds of booths and exhibitors—along with a dedicated networking space where attendees can schedule meetings (through Swapcard, once available) with prospective clients or employers.

3. Relax in our Audio Lounge: It's time to rejoice: Community spaces are returning to GDC 2023! Not only are they a place to unwind during the day, they're also the perfect spot to network with industry colleages and prospective employers. Head to our Floor Plan to see our community spaces throughout the Expo Floor, including interactive spaces for certain disciplines and the GDC Play Lounge. 

4. Get food recs from an SF ambassador: Trying to find something to eat in between sessions? Keep an eye out for the city’s official Welcome Ambassadors–in their signature bright orange jackets, with the words “Welcome Ambassador” written on the back. They'll be hanging around GDC and may have recommendations on interesting spots to grab breakfast or lunch.

5. Follow GDC on social media: Marketing professionals should make sure to tune into GDC's FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Mastodon to keep an eye on the coolest marketing trends happening at GDC 2023. We'll be on the floor throughout the event highlighting amazing spots and exhibitors. 

Watch and Read

(VIDEO) 'Unpacking': The Fun Behind the Foley: Jeff van Dyck (GDC 2022)

(VIDEO) Audio Summit: Game Composer's Toolbox: Interactive Music Composition Tips & Tricks: Megan Carnes (GDC 2022)

(ARTICLE) Adaptive audio in menus: game development's untapped opportunity: Elliot Callighan (Game Developer)

(ARTICLE) Balancing playfulness and sincerity in "chill beats" for Toem's audio backing: Joel Couture (Game Developer)

Watch more Audio talks on GDC Vault here

This is the latest in our series of Session Guides for GDC 2023, with recommendations for sessions, events, networking opportunities, and more. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

Of course, the only way to see these sessions, and so much more, is to sign up for GDC! 

Register for GDC 2023 Here

We can’t wait to see you at GDC 2023, taking place March 20-24, 2023 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Head here for information on booking a hotel and other travel inquiries, and follow the #GDC23 hashtag for the latest news and updates for this year’s exciting event.

GDC returns to San Francisco this March 20-24, 2023, and registration is now open! For more information, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC23 hashtag on social media.

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