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GDC YouTube Top 5: NYU Game Center's Mitu Khandaker

In this monthly series we invite brilliant people from the game industry to curate their top 5 videos from the GDC YouTube archive.

This month, we bring you top picks from Mitu Khandaker, CEO and technical director of Glow Up Games, professor at NYU Game Center, and GDC Advisory Board member.

Khandaker is also an advocate for inclusivity and diversity in tech. Glow Up Games, led by women of color, is developing games that appeal to underrepresented groups, at the same time researching markets to find new ways to serve and entertain these groups.

For more details on GDC 2020 - taking place March 16-20 in San Francisco - visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via FacebookTwitter, or RSS.

Dream Daddy: How Game Grumps Created Player Inclusivity and You Can Too - Tyler Hutchison 

"Whether or not you’ve played the excellent Dream Daddy (and you should have!) this is a wonderfully informative talk on how you can make a game that is truly inclusive and makes the player feel represented (and therefore, more players!) without getting out of scope and budget. Lots of great insights here, one of which is one of my own favorite mechanisms for communicating underlying models in games: character creators!"

Writing Modular Characters for System-Driven Games - Tanya X. Short 

"Kitfox Studios, headed by Tanya X. Short, is one of the most important game development studios out there right now. In this wonderful technical design talk she outlines the current state of best practical techniques for anyone who is interested in procedural character generation."

The Lives of Others: How NPCs Can Increase Player Empathy - CJ Kershner

"This pick kills three birds with one stone for me -- firstly, you should pair it with the ‘Writing Modular Characters for System-Driven Games’ above. Secondly, it shouts out a talk that I placed in the honorable mentions below, by Meg Jayanth. Thirdly, and more cheekily, it very kindly shouts out one of my talks (though I swear I had forgotten about this!)"

Practical Procedural Generation for Everyone - Kate Compton

"When it comes to procedural generation, Kate Compton should be the first name you think of -- and more than that, no-one else provides those lessons in such an accessible way. By empowering everyone - even YOU - to become a creator of generative games, toys, art, bots and more, she is doing top-tier technical advocacy work. This is a talk you need to see if you’re curious about getting into procedural generation techniques, whether for the first time or as a seasoned programmer."

You’re Not Broken: Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times

"Laralyn McWilliams is an inspiring industry veteran at the best of times and a designer you should know, with a prolific and impressive career; here she talks about the more difficult times. In this heartfelt and moving talk drawing on her own battle with cancer, she gives us incredible and insightful lessons on creativity, becoming whole, and moving forward in those times when you just feel fundamentally broken. No matter where we’ve been on the spectrum of personal hardships, this is an absolute must-watch talk that we can all relate to."


This list was way too hard to pin down, so not only have I created a list of honorable mentions (copying Soren Johnson’s style from last month), I’ve gone ahead and categorized them by lessons. In my 11+ years of going to GDC, and spending five of those years on the advisory board, I’ve found there’s many topics and important lessons that GDC talks can cover, so here they are:

Leadership/Managing Teams

How to Build a Remote Team for Better Happiness

Managing Conflict on Small Teams

Big Companies Talking about Diversity

Fostering Diversity in Games

Crush the Norm: Diversity Rules (at King)


Pledge to talk about Your Failures

Meditation for Devs: Maintaining your Sanity for Crunch and Beyond


Making Her Story: Telling a Story Using the Player’s Imagination

Emergent Stories in Crusader Kings II

Best Practices for Procedural Narrative Generation

Forget Protagonists: Writing NPCs with Agency for 80 Days and Beyond

You Need an Editor

Design and Beyond

Game Design Patterns for Building Friendships -

Low Poly Modeling: Style through Economy

Games about Rich Experience, Not Addiction

Put a Face on it: The Aesthetics of Cute

Will Wright’s Dynamics for Designers

Mitu Khandaker is a game designer, programmer, scholar, and GDC Advisory Board member. She’s on the faculty at the NYU Game Center, and previously made critically acclaimed comedy social simulation game Redshirt. More recently, she co-founded Glow Up Games, a mobile and emerging tech studio working on telling compelling and diverse systemic stories, where she is CEO and technical director.


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