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Please note: this information refers to GDC 2016, check back for updates.

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 Summits are seeking speaking proposals:
  • AI Summit
  • Community Management Summit
  • eSports Summit
  • Free to Play Summit
  • Game Narrative Summit
  • GDC Education Summit
  • Independent Games Summit
  • Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit

Submission Guidelines

If you want to submit to the GDC Summits, VRDC, or Game Career Seminar, please take note of the following:

Vendor-Specific Proposals

The Game Developers Conference 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 apply. If you would like to publicize a product, please contact our sales team for information on exhibiting and other vendor opportunities, including sponsored sessions.

All presentations must be submitted by the original authors

We currently only accept 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. We require direct contact with presenters to expedite questions during the submission review process.

GDC Main Conference Tracks

If you are interested in submitting for any of the GDC main conference tracks, the call for submissions closed on August 27th at 11:59 PT. Proposals submitted to the main conference of the GDC are being considered by the GDC Advisory Board. There is no penalty for submitting a proposal to both the main conference and summits. Each program has its own advisors and submissions will be graded separately. You may contact Colleen Mickey about the Main Conference Tracks call for submissions. Please click here for submission details and topics of interest.

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 14-15, 2016.

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. 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.

AI Summit
The GDC AI Summit features panels and lectures from top game AI programmers in the industry. Organized as a collective effort by the AI Game Programmers Guild, this event promises to give you an inside look at key architectures and issues within successful commercial games, as well as let you eavesdrop on conversations, debates, and rants on how game AI can move forward. This summit is targeted toward the intermediate to advanced programmer who wants deeper insight into the world of game AI, however anyone who is interested in what AI can offer next generation games will find invaluable insights and lessons from the speakers.

We are welcoming submissions on AI-related topics in the following areas:

  • 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 both traditional AI architectures (e.g. state machines, behavior trees, planners, etc.) and newer algorithms (e.g. MCTS)
  • New architectures and approaches for AI-related problems
  • 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.)
Community Management Summit
The one-day Community Management Summit will cover every corner of this quickly evolving, crucial facet of video game development. Summit content will focus on how to inspire, build and maintain user loyalty and enthusiasm through the ups and downs of community opinion and adoption. It will discuss how to manage your community's needs and interests to align with your company's goals. Attend the summit to learn best practices and hear industry experts share case studies and postmortems on cutting edge community management strategies.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2016 program:

  • How to inspire, build and maintain user loyalty and enthusiasm. How to manage an enthusiastically negative community.
  • How to promote a positive in-game community experience
  • Retention and requisition technique case studies
  • How to get users involved in early game development and stay involved
  • Social media case studies: how to leverage social media
  • How to run in-game events
  • Managing your community's needs and interests to align with your organizations goals
eSports Summit
The eSports Summit will be a two day summit focused on all things eSports. We strive to bring together the most influential people in eSports to share their knowledge and expertise; from players to game developers, event organizers, casters, journalists, and streamers. Session content will share best practices for how to design, grow, develop, sustain and communicate within the competitive games industry.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2016 program:

  • Postmortems of eSports friendly games: What gives a game eSport potential?
  • Designing eSports: Designing games to be spectator-friendly, balance change philosophy, designing for skill, etc.
  • Design dialogues: Discussions between professional game players and the designers of the games they play
  • Economics of eSports: Identifying different business models and their impacts
  • Casting and spectating: What makes game play entertaining to watch? Best practices for increasing audience literacy
  • Tournament design, league design, and metagame design
  • Best practices for building awareness and growing your fan base
  • Challenges of fostering, publishing, and maintaining eSports for a global audience
  • Player education/coaching methods: Learning a deep game, supporting dedicated players
  • Shaping and moderating player behavior (both pro and amateur)
  • Ethics in eSports: Diversity, competition and hostility, age-limits, addiction, cheating, player physical health, etc.
  • Women in eSports: gender, respect, inclusivity, equality
  • Future of eSports: emerging trends, sustainability, mainstream accessibility
Free to Play Summit
Over the past few years, the free-to-play (F2P) model has revolutionized the games industry. The web and mobile games ecosystems are now utterly dominated by F2P games, and highly successful F2P games have begun to sprout up on Steam and on consoles as well.

Though F2P games are no longer a novelty, designers are still grappling with the creative implications of a world in which gameplay and monetization are intimately intertwined, and in which games are supposed to never end. Are you struggling to design games that can stand up to the brutal competition in this space without compromising your principles? Do you despair at the mention of ever-climbing user acquisition costs? Then submit to the Free to Play Summit, and be amongst other leading professionals from the F2P world, offering stress relief, providing answers, and sharing learnings with your peers at GDC 2016.

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2016 program:

  • How can we continue to foster innovation as the F2P game market matures once new games become dominant brands, and powerful brands enter from other arenas??
  • Postmortems about building and launching F2P games
  • Postmortems about keeping live F2P games relevant year after year
  • When launching titles across multiple platforms and territories, how does the F2P model vary?
  • Ground-up F2P design, with a focus on designing across dramatically different sized screens: mobile, TV, PC, etc.
  • How to improve player experience and developer satisfaction by weaving F2P monetization intimately into design post-launch
  • Monetization techniques: how to make games successful without making them evil
  • Monetization techniques: current and future platforms beyond mobile and Facebook
  • Authentic social and viral engagement techniques for F2P games
  • As user acquisition costs skyrocket in now-established F2P ecosystems (like mobile), what new platforms might represent interesting opportunities for developers, and how can developers make headway in the brutally competitive mobile space?
  • The year in F2P: We know what games are selling but what games are the most FUN, and why?
Game Career Seminar
The Game Career Seminar, taking place Friday, March 18, 2016 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 mobile/social projects. The 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 25-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.

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 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 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
GDC Education Summit
The GDC Education 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. The 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 (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 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).

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2016 program:

  • 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.
  • Creative funding strategies that have worked for you.
  • 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 "Summary for Advisors" section of the submission form. These themes include:
    • Course case studies - Short presentations (25 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 education 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 Education 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.
  • Make sure your topic isn't a beginner-level topic, such as "How to start a game development program", that 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.
Independent Games Summit
The Independent Games Summit is the place for the independent game developer at GDC. It features lectures, postmortems and roundtables from notable independent game creators, including many former and current Independent Games Festival finalists and winners. The Independent Games 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 2016 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!

We are soliciting the following topics for the 2016 program:

  • Design and Philosophy - design techniques particularly suited to indies, such as rapid prototyping & limitations, 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 be afraid!
  • Case Studies and Postmortems - 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!
  • 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, Audio, or Writing, are welcome and encouraged.
  • 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
  • ? Annual lecture themes if youre interested in submitting to give a microtalk in one of our annual 60-minute lectures, such as the Indie Soapbox, the Failure Workshop, or the Tech Toolbox, be sure to note that in the Summary for Advisors section of the submission form.
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, Amazon 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 2016 program:

  • Business Strategy
    • Best Practices for Building Momentum for a Mobile Game Launch
    • Pros & Cons: Staying Independent vs. Working with a Publisher or Partner
    • Japan, Korea, and China: how to make your app successful in a global marketplace.
    • Can paid apps survive in an ecosystem steeped in free?
    • Growing your mobile studio: figuring out how, and when, to do it.
    • Best practices for getting your game in the charts and keeping it there
  • Game Design
    • Notifications, storefronts, and reminders: designing complex mobile user interfaces.
    • Differences in design - phones versus tablets
    • Truly native game designs for touch-screens (swipes, taps, etcetera)
    • Game design on the go: making your game work when your players are sitting at the bus-stop
    • Keeping your players hooked - how to be sticky in a low-attention-span world.
    • Crossing over: designing a mobile game that succeed on Steam
    • Case studies & analysis - what's worked in the past?
    • Analyzing the merits of popular mobile game design patterns absent monetization concerns.
  • Tech
    • Building the Backend: How to roll your own cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer infrastructure for fun and profit (with friends)
    • Trends in mobile tech- what should you keep an eye on?
    • Unity, Cocos2D, Unreal, etc: compare and contrast popular mobile middleware
  • Mobile Trends
    • Microconsoles, Google Glass, and Smart Watches: Crazy ideas for the future of Mobile.
    • Designing for Grandma: The rise of nontraditional gaming audiences

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the submission deadline?
October 2, 2015 11:59 PM PT
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
  • 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:

Community Management Summit
eSports Summit
Free to Play Summit
Game Narrative Summit
GDC Education Summit
Independent Games Summit
Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit
What are the benefits of speaking?
The benefits of being a speaker include:

  • Complimentary registration
  • Access to all conference sessions, summits, and the expo floor
  • Speaker lunch
  • Invitation to VIP networking event, Level99
  • Your name and presentation featured in our conference program and website
  • A year subscription to the GDC Vault (video and audio recordings of all GDCs)
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 2015. If you do not hear from us, please contact Victoria Petersen at
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 with any additional questions.