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CONFERENCE  

|   SUMMITS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The GDC Summits call for submissions will be open from September 8 - October 3, 2014.

Please note: the information below refers to the 2013 GDC Summits, please check back for updates.

The GDC Summits solicit proposals from speakers with deep industry expertise and innovative ideas from particular emerging areas of the game industry. Submission criteria and guidelines are available below.

The following Summits are seeking speaking proposals:
  • Free to Play Design & Business Summit
  • Game Career Seminar
  • Game Narrative Summit
  • GDC Education Summit
  • Independent Games Summit
  • Localization Summit
  • QA Summit
  • Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit

Speaker Expectations

Conference attendees expect excellence from GDC speakers. They will evaluate your talk based on delivery, knowledge on the topic addressed, and the visuals presented. Please consider the following when proposing to speak:

  • The proposed outline must match the talk you present at the Summit.
  • We suggest that you commit AT LEAST 30 HOURS to prepare for your session.
  • You may be required to submit your presentation slides for review prior to acceptance.
  • We require all speakers to sign and return a speaker agreement. This agreement confirms your intent to speak at the event, and gives the Game Developers Conference® the right to post your contributions to the online conference proceedings GDC Vault (if applicable) while you maintain your right to use your work elsewhere. When you sign the agreement, you will also consent to having your presentation audiotaped and/or videotaped.
  • Your presentation should not be delivered at any other conference or seminar PRIOR to the Conference, unless by express permission of the Conference.
  • We strongly encourage that you rehearse the delivery of your session for it to be effective; preferably in front of your peers.
  • Have adequate visual accompaniment to your speech.
  • The submitter also agrees to be available to present his/her session during either day of the Summit: March 17-18, 2014.

Summit Descriptions & Topics of Interest

The summit advisors are seeking proposals on the following topics. These topics are the foundation of the programs this year. Feel free to submit your own original ideas for consideration as well.

Looking for the AI Summit? It will be included in the 2014 conference, but programmed by invitation only.

Free to Play Design & Business Summit
Over the past few years, the free-to-play (F2P) model has revolutionized the games industry, from social games, to hardcore MMOs, to open Web and mobile games in general. Developers and publishers are grappling with the implications of service-based games, metrics-driven business, A-B testing, viral user acquisition, whales versus minnows ... a whole new way of doing business. Designers are grappling with the creative implications of a world in which gameplay and monetization is intimately intertwined, the social interactions between players, how the game grows in depth without losing its core audience, and how to keep the audience engaged in games with no ending. F2P games already dominate the Web and mobile ecosystems and are expected to become a major disruptive force on next generation consoles. Are you facing this brave new world with anxiety and questions? Then come to the Free-to-Play Design & Business Summit, where leading professionals from the F2P world can offer stress relief and provide answers.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2014 program:

  • Latest and greatest monetization techniques
  • Most effective user acquisition techniques (by platform)
  • Postmortems on new F2P games
  • Designing your metagame for fun and profit (specific examples of what has moved the needle and what hasn't)
  • Comparison of the top F2P games in US vs. Europe vs. China vs. Japan -- what are the key differences in each market?
  • Experiences on launching titles on multiple platforms
  • Experiences on social features of F2P games, especially innovative cases where social APIs are used for other purposes than friending
  • Metrics processes to help drive F2P design and monetization
  • Designing from the ground up for F2P - lessons learned
  • Power of Free - using behavioral economics to games
Game Career Seminar
The Game Career Seminar, taking place Friday, March 21, 2014 at the Moscone Convention Center, is a one-day program designed for students and individuals interested in learning how to build a career in the video game industry. Attendees will experience interactive sessions, network with industry professionals, have the chance to meet with HR representatives from leading game companies in the Career Pavilion, and most importantly, learn how to get their careers started in the video game industry. Top game developers and industry experts will share their perspective and insights.
Game Narrative Summit
The Game Narrative Summit covers interactive narrative in all its forms, from AAA blockbusters to indie games to transmedia projects. The event features an all-star lineup of speakers from every corner of the discipline, with session content ranging from the advanced and theoretical to hands-on workshops for writers, designers and others seeking to hone their skills. 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.

We welcome 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 transmedia properties
  • 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 in alternative game forms, e.g. mobile, social, casual, online
    • the writing of specific game genres, e.g. FPS, RPG, MMO
    • resonating with specific target markets, e.g. children, international audiences
    • 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
  • Practical advice for aspiring, intermediate or advanced-level gamewriters
  • Storytelling lessons for games derived from other media, e.g. film, comics, literature
  • Insights from authoritative creatives in other fields with a strong point of view on what is possible in game narrative
  • Experts debating opposing points of view on any of these topics
  • Inspirational demonstrations in emotive game content
  • Hands-on workshops in gamewriting techniques
  • Business and career advice to help game writers succeed professionally
  • Verifiable evidence of the positive effects interactive storytelling is having on the outside world
GDC Education Summit
At the GDC Education Summit attendees will explore experimental and inventive educational approaches that established game curriculum builders can bring back to their faculty and classrooms. The audience consists of educators of game development (spread throughout all levels: K-12, community college, four-year college/university, graduate education). Most attendees are at schools that already have well-established game development 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). This program is aimed towards educators from established game development programs or new game course creators that want to understand the challenges they'll face in the next few years. It will bring scholars together with experienced professionals willing to learn, share ideas and achievements. The summit is a great professional development opportunity that will explore how collaboration leads to success not only in the classroom but in all aspects of work and life. We want everyone to leave our Summit thinking about what a great value they received for their time and money, and how they can't afford to miss it next year. This is our goal. Structure your proposal accordingly.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2014 program:

  • Novel approaches to teaching any aspect of game development or game studies
  • Novel ways to fund or publish games research, student game projects, etc.
  • Repeatable examples of successful collaborations between departments, schools, or industry

Common Mistakes:
  • Focusing 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? Many academic conferences exist solely as a way to share whatever current research you're working on, and they are set up to benefit speakers rather than attendees; GDC is not like that. (Yes, being a GDC speaker gives some nice perks. Your reason for submitting a proposal should still be to help and improve your peers and our community, not to help yourself. Your proposal will be read by some jaded sets of eyes. Do not give us a reason to assume that you're only sending something in because you want a free pass, rather than because you have anything useful to contribute to the rest of us.)
  • Topic is beginner-level or has been covered before. "How to start a game development program" or similar newbie-focused talks are not useful to an audience of educators who already work within programs that are well underway. Easy exercise when brainstorming topics: look at all of the session names and descriptions for the past 3 years, and shoot for about that level of understanding in the audience (without just saying the same thing that someone else has talked about already).
  • Topic is irrelevant to the Education Summit. Every year we get a bunch of talks about games that teach math or science or something (i.e. "serious games" projects). Unless it's a game to teach game development, or a talk about teaching serious game development, the Edu Summit isn't the place to present this kind of work.
  • Topic or takeaways aren't immediately clear from the initial read. It should be absolutely obvious why your peers should want to sit in on your proposed talk. This isn't the time to conceal information. A proposal titled "Five Things You Can Do To Improve Student Retention" had better list what those five things are. Give us enough information to evaluate if your talk will be awesome or not.
Independent Games Summit
The Independent Games Summit represents the voice of the independent game developer at GDC. It features lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators, including many former and current Independent Games Festival finalists and winners. The Independent Games Summit seeks to highlight the brightest and the best of indie development, with discussions ranging from game design philosophy, distribution, business, marketing, and much more.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2014 program:

  • Indie Business - how to fund your project, ship a profitable game, manage teams, pick the right platform, and run a company without going insane
  • Promotion & Marketing - how to get noticed when the "Marketing Department" = you
  • Design and Philosophy - deep dive into design techniques, for example: rapid prototyping, limitations, and the future of indie
  • Case Studies and Postmortems - inspirational talks that demonstrate what worked, what didn't, what surprised you and made you wiser
  • Inspirational - stories from the fringe of development, of a new idea, person(s), or project that can surprise and inspire developers, both new and old.
Localization Summit
Game localization is a vital function of the ever-expanding global game industry as it's responsible for half of the industry's total revenue stream. Successful game publishers and developers realize that localized versions of their games can drive revenues and increase international appeal. Beyond existing gaming markets, the demand is quickly increasing from a growing number of countries and emerging markets around the world, which is prompting publishers to localize and even culturalize more titles into more languages to maximize their ROI. The Game Localization Summit at GDC is supported and organized by the IGDA Game Localization SIG, and it is aimed at helping localization professionals as well as the entire community of game developers and publishers understand how to plan and execute game localization and culturalization as a part of the development cycle. Professionals from all departments and all areas of expertise are welcome to attend this full day of lectures, panels and game postmortems.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2014 program:

  • Innovative practices to manage the localization process and increase overall quality.
  • Cutting-edge advancements in game localization tools (live, working demos encouraged).
  • Case studies from specific game titles that illustrate best practices, pitfalls and/or localization's ROI.
  • Current issues in localization, from translation techniques to client-vendor relationships to working with non-loc personnel.
  • In-depth discussions of country- and/or region-specific challenges and potentials.
QA Summit
This summit will discuss new and/or current tools, processes and organization methods being used in QA today and show how QA is an integral part of development through the entire lifecycle of the game, from inception to sunset. What works for some, might not work well for others. What used to work may not uphold with the growing culture of smartphone, social and online gaming. Attendees will gain some new insight and knowledge that will help existing QA Teams/Managers as well as those new to QA. Every attendee will leave with his/her own list of guiding principles to build QA practices upon.
Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit
The Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit at GDC brings together top game developers from around the world to share ideas, discuss best practices, and consider the future of gaming on mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows 7 and more. This two day program will focus on the nuts and bolts of great game design and successful business strategies specifically tailored to popular smartphones & tablets.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2014 program:

  • Best Practices for Building Momentum for a Mobile Game Launch
  • Non-traditional Approaches to F2P on Mobile
  • Pros & Cons: Staying Independent vs. Working with a Publisher or Partner
  • "Passing The Bus Stop Test": Mobile Design for Very Short Play Sessions
  • Building the Backend: How to roll your own cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer infrastructure for fun and profit (with friends)
  • Using Social Media to Your Advantage: How to leverage third party social media technologies to make your game stickier and more viral
  • Can paid apps survive in an ecosystem steeped in free?
  • Freemium game design: translating traditional game mechanics to free-to-play games
  • Touch-based control system design in popular mobile games
  • Defining the mobile gaming audience
  • Best practices for getting your game in the charts and keeping it there
  • High-end cross-platform graphics systems
  • Cross platform audio systems
  • Unity, Cocos2D, UDK, etc: compare and contrast popular mobile middleware
  • Deep analysis of the relationship between monetization and content in a successful free-to-play game
  • Planning for a post-console future

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the submission deadline?
October 3, 2014 11:59 PM ET
What makes a good submission?
  • Incomplete proposals or proposals that are commercial or marketing in nature will not be considered.
  • Review all of the submission guidelines on this page and follow the instructions.
  • 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 do I need to provide in my submission?
The submission form will require these key items. You may be asked to submit additional materials before a decision is made on your proposal.
  1. Contact information
    Full contact information and a short biography (100 word max) are required.
  2. Session Title
    A concise, descriptive title of no more than 8 words.
  3. Presentation description
    A description of your presentation as you would have it appear on the GDC website in 100 words or less. Write in 3rd person, present tense.
  4. Attendee takeaway
    In 50-words or less, summarize what new knowledge attendees will gain from this presentation. Write as you would have it appear on the website. Do not use bullet points, write in 3rd person present tense.
  5. Summary for Advisors
    Describe to the advisors what your talk will be about, and why it will be interesting to GDC Summit attendees. This is not the description of your talk for the website, it is not meant for attendees to read, it is not a teaser, and it is not a place for cute wordplay. It is for you to describe concretely and succinctly what is compelling about your talk to the advisors.
  6. Supporting Materials
    Upload any helpful elements you will use to illustrate your talk, e.g., code samples, demos, video clips, etc. The advisors would like to see demos, images, or any documentation that supports your submission.
  7. Past Speaking Engagements & Web links
    If applicable, list the conferences, the title of the lecture, scores, and references. If you can provide references for these lectures, include a name and contact information. Add links to your company's website(s), personal blog(s), projects you're working on, etc., to support your proposal. Please do not offer links to news articles.
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.
Format Duration Description
Lectures 60 or 25 minutes Lectures are issue-oriented, provide concrete examples, and contain both practical and theoretical information. We generally prefer 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.
Panels 60 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 participation time should be accounted for. We prefer 60 minute time for this format and no more than 5 people. Include all of the panelists you have confirmed in the proposal. A very limited number of panels will be accepted.
How do I choose a session format?
It is very common for us to receive a proposal on a wonderful topic that we want to accept, but that requires a format change. This is not a problem, but if you choose properly, it means we're more likely to trust you to know what you're doing and less likely to micromanage you at every step. This makes it easier for all of us.

60-minute lectures tend to be inspirational, high-level, or wide-ranging talks that cover a subject of broad importance. 25-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 talking points; panels are 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 (especially for a 25-minute talk, where there is hardly time to switch speakers). Panels generally have a moderator and three or four panelists who are established and known experts on the topic; everyone in the room is likely to have an opinion, after all, so the only reason to make it a panel and not just a list of questions for audience discussion is if the panelists have opinions that are worth listening to.

Common mistakes:
  • Taking a narrow topic and pitching it as a 60-minute lecture. If you can squeeze the important stuff into 25 minutes, do so.
  • Taking a 60-minute lecture and having five listed speakers, and/or taking what should be a perfectly good lecture and pitching it as a panel. Just because you've got a great topic does not mean you get to bring all of your friends to GDC for free by sneaking them in as guest speakers for your talk. If you try, it's pretty obvious who the unnecessary dead weight is, and just raises our suspicion that you're thinking more about the speaker perks than the audience takeaways. (If your Dean is insisting on being a guest speaker when they have nothing to contribute, push back. If you don't, we will anyway, so please save us the effort.)
How does the selection process work?
  • We will email you a confirmation when we receive your proposal. If you do not receive this confirmation, contact Victoria Petersen at victoria.petersen@ubm.com.
  • 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 score them on the criteria below.
  • This composite rating along with past GDC session evaluation scores (when applicable) and advisor feedback will determine the status of every submission.
  • You will receive notification in late November about the status of your proposal.

These four criteria are considered when reviewing your proposal:

Concept: This is the basic idea of your proposal. Is it interesting? Is it relevant? Will it be beneficial for game development professionals to hear? The best proposals provide concrete takeaways that help attendees in their jobs. There's room for innovative ideas and the tried and true.

Depth: Has the idea in your proposal been well considered and fleshed out? To what extent will the audience gain insight? The more in-depth, the better. It should not be "obvious," i.e. easily gleaned by simply playing a few popular games. If you plan on showing data, specify exactly what data you will be sharing in your proposal.

Organization: Are your ideas organized in a fashion conducive to presentation in front of an audience? Will the Advisory Board "follow" what you are trying to say? Organization is a must!

Credentials: How do your credentials qualify you to speak on the topic you've proposed? From experience, proposals written by someone other than the speaker tend to have a lower rate of acceptance.

A Note On Writing Style: Unless we've seen you speak before (or you link to a video of you speaking at some other conference), we tend to assume that your writing style is at least somewhat correlated to your speaking style because that's all we have to go on. Write the way that you would speak at GDC.
Who will review my proposal?
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.

Select a Summit below to learn about the Advisors:

Free to Play Design & Business Summit
Game Narrative Summit
GDC Education Summit
Independent Games Summit
Localization Summit
QA Summit
Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit
What are the benefits of speaking?
The benefits of being a speaker include:

  • Complimentary All Access Pass
  • Extensive exposure: Your name and presentation featured in our conference program and web site
  • The opportunity to influence your peers and community
  • Invitation to the GDC Level 99 Speaker Party
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 Advisory Board and conference management reserve the right to exercise their editorial discretion. If you would like to publicize a product, please contact our sales team for information on exhibiting and other vendor opportunities, including sponsored sessions.
What does the 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 expect our speakers to submit the final version of their presentation to be made available on the GDC Vault.
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 early December 2013. If you do not hear from us, please contact Victoria Petersen at victoria.petersen@ubm.com.
How should PR Reps submit for their clients?
If you are a PR representative submitting on behalf of a client, please list the speaker information and add yourself as the PR contact for all speakers. Without full speaker details, the submission will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
Who should I contact with additional questions?
Please contact Victoria Petersen at victoria.petersen@ubm.com with any additional questions.

 
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