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GDC 2023 Session Guide for Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality are exploding in the games space—and paving the way for the future. VR/AR developers heading to the Game Developers Conference: This Session Guide and Walkthrough will help you make the most of your GDC 2023

In our Future Realities track, learn to create amazing, immersive VR and AR experiences for games and entertainment. Be inspired, learn from experts, and share best practices to create augmented and virtual reality for games, films, and other forms of entertainment. 

The track exclusively includes sessions from: Future Realities 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 Future Realities talks at GDC 2023 and get started on prepping that schedule (we will update with dates and times as they become available). For those wanting the option to experience every session at GDC 2023, be sure to register for an All-Access Pass

Summits Session Picks for: VR/AR

Future Realities Summit: Clinical Virtual Reality: A Brief Review of the Future
Albert Rizzo (Director of Medical VR & Research Professor, USC-Institute for Creative TechnologiesT)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 10:50 am - 11:50 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Albert Rizzo, Director of Medical VR & Research Professor at USC-Institute for Creative Technologies, will present the latest developments within the context of a conceptual model of five core processes where VR adds value over traditional clinical strategies. By understanding these processes (Expose, Distract, Motivate, Measure, and Engage) and the clinical VR apps that illustrate them, the audience will more clearly see how game development concepts and expertise can play a vital role in the future of mental and rehabilitative healthcare!"

Future Realities Summit: The Avatar Manifesto
Dino Ignacio (Senior Design Manager, Roblox)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 1:20 pm - 1:50 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Presented by Dino Ignacio—a product designer/game developer with over 15 years of experience working at EA, Oculus, Facebook/Meta, and Roblox—this talk discusses a set of governing principles for Avatars game developers can all use as they collectively build the metaverse. How might we make safety and inclusion a key part of Avatars across all of our products?"

Future Realities Summit: Iteration in Isolation: Finding Success as a Solo VR Developer During a Global Pandemic
Niel Widy (Indie Developer, Andromeda Entertainment)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 2:10 pm - 2:40 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "In this talk, Niel shares what that two-year journey looked like for him as a teacher in Austria. He will discuss the skills that helped him find success with SolarBlack—even those he didn't possess—as well as what went right, what went wrong, and lots of things he wishes someone had told him before he started."

Future Realities Summit: A Case for Relaxing VR
Shawn Patton (Principal Game Designer, Schell Games)
Melanie Harke (Digital Producer, Fred Rogers Productions)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "In this session, DB Creations co-founders Blake Gross and Dustin Kochensparger will provide lessons learned from the last three years of building AR games for mobile devices. Beginning on iOS and Android with their popular strategy game Table Trenches, through to its cutting edge sequel that launched in summer 2022."

Future Realities Summit: Emergency Meeting! It's the 'Among Us VR' Postmortem
Shawn Patton (Principal Game Designer, Schell Games)
Michal Ksiazkiewicz (Senior Game Designer, Schell Games)
Jennifer Rabbitt (Senior Production Manager, Schell Games)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "What does reimagining one of the quintessential pandemic classics, Among Us, for VR entail? Find out as Jennifer Rabbitt (Lead Producer), Michal Ksiazkiewicz (Design Director), and Shawn Patton (Principal Game Designer) break down the benefits of porting and playtesting, schedules and shenanigans. They will also explain some of the issues they faced and ultimately voted off the ship to succeed in releasing an amazing game on time during a pandemic."

Future Realities Summit: Kids and XR: Leveling up While Playing It Safe
Kimberly Hieftje (Co-Director & Co-Founder, XRPeds, Yale)
Asher Marks (Co-Director & Co-Founder, XRPeds, Yale)

Location: Room 209, South Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 2:10 pm - 2:40 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Dr. Kimberly Hieftje and Dr. Asher Marks, co-founders of XRPediatrics (XRPeds) at Yale University will explore the value of XR in the development of clinical applications and behavioral interventions focused on youth and young adults. In addition, they will identify, and describe how to navigate, the safety concerns that must be considered in the development of XR experiences for youth."

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your GDC

1. Join a speed networking session: Our talks and panels are amazing, but be sure to bookmark at least one speed networking session during your time at GDC. They're a great way to network with like-minded professionals and industry colleagues. More info on these sessions to come. 

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. Plan your Expo tour... then wing it: The GDC 2023 Expo Floor features many booths and exhibitors, showcasing some of the latest games, technologies, and career opportunities. Be sure to visit our interactive Floor Plan so you can map out the booths you want to visit. But don't forget to set aside some time for an unstructured lap around the Expo Floor. You might be surprised by what you find—one time I discovered a popcorn machine! A vital snack in the afternoon.

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. Attend the GDCA and IGF Awards: On Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30pm PT, the GDC Main Stage hosts the Independent Games Festival Awards and the Game Developers Choice Awards—two prestigious ceremonies that celebrate the game industry and standout games and developers of the past year. Best part: It's free for attendees of all pass levels.

Watch and Read

(VIDEO) Future Realities Summit: 'Visitations': VR for Ketamine Infusion Therapy: David Lobster (GDC Vault)

(VIDEO) Future Realities Summit: Up Close & Virtual: The Power of Live VR Actors: Alex Coulombe (GDC Vault) 

(ARTICLE) How To Avoid Creating the Next Digital Divide Through VR: Raghu Bathina (Game Developer)

(ARTICLE) VR studio Owlchemy Labs on the universal benefits of accessible game design: Chris Kerr (Game Developer)

Watch more VR/AR 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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