GDC | Independent Games Summit

Independent Games Summit

Hear from the best and brightest indie game creators in the Independent Games Summit, Monday and Tuesday March 19-20, 2018. Attend lectures, postmortems representing diverse voices, experiences and perspectives, including many former and current Independent Games Festival finalists and winners. .

Register for an Independent Games Summit pass before they sell out, or attend with an All Access pass or GDC Summits pass.

2017 Highlighted Sessions (M-T)

Building Game Mechanics to Elevate Narrative in 'Oxenfree'
Sean Krankel (Night School Studio)
When Night School set out to create their debut game, 'Oxenfree', they had one goal in mind: merge storytelling and mechanics as closely as possible. Throughout development, the developers constantly evaluated 'Oxenfree' through the lens of two critical questions: "Why is the player playing this?" and "What is the player doing while we have them?" In Night School's game, the "why" is the player defining Alex's story, and the "what" is a set of mechanics built to make interacting with the story feel personal and novel. This talk, from 'Oxenfree' co-creator Sean Krankel, will dive into the various design decisions that went into creating an acclaimed supernatural thriller rooted in communication and exploration.
Designing a Trance: Meditation and Game Design
Robin Arnott (Independent)
Everyone is familiar with the experience of being entranced by a game; that feeling of total focus where the whole world melts away. This talk will help its audience understand the trance phenomenon. By exploring the myriad causes and types of trance, the audience will better understand how to induce these states of mind. More profoundly, they can leverage trance itself as more than the bi-product of good game design, but as a tool for deepening a player's relationship with themselves and with others. Robin Arnott, creator of the VR technodelic "SoundSelf," looks to meditation and music performance for game design inspiration.
(Opportunity) Cost Effective Marketing & PR for Indies
Chris Dwyer (Independent)
In this talk, Chris Dwyer, who's worked on PR/marketing for games like 'Gone Home: Console Edition', 'Overland', 'Night In The Woods', 'Thimbleweed Park' and more, discusses how to arm indie developers with limited financial, mental and time budgets with good (and more importantly efficient) marketing & PR strategies. Whether using external or internal marketing resources, he'll discuss how to evaluate which parts of marketing & PR their specific game needs, and how to make a template to prioritize and adjust those needs based on monetary and opportunity cost.
Practical Contract Law 201 for Indie Developers: Moderately Scary Edition
Chris Reid (Law Offices of Christopher G. Reid)
Don't sign that! ... yet. Join games lawyer Chris Reid in the follow-up to last year's #1 rated Summit talk, as he walks indie developers through the single most common legal issue they will encounter: Contracts. IP, Privacy, Licensing, Distribution and almost every legal issue important to developers is handled with a contract. Chris will cover the five contracts every indie needs to understand: contractor agreements, publishing agreements, game development agreements, NDAs and EULAs. For each type of contract, he will describe when it comes up, why it matters, and what terms to include and avoid. Now you can sign.

Independent Games Summit Advisors

Ryan Clark
Brace Yourself Games
A veteran independent game developer, Ryan Clark has been creating award winning games since 2004, including 'Crypt of the NecroDancer', 'IncrediBots', 'Professor Fizzwizzle', and many more.  With biweekly game industry analysis streams on Twitch, frequent speaking engagements, detailed Gamasutra articles, and numerous volunteer roles, Ryan is heavily involved in the independent games community. Ryan is also the co-founder of a technology and creativity focused school called Claren Academy in Vancouver, Canada, where he lives with his wife and two young sons.
Kellee Santiago
As former president and co-founder of thatgamecompany, Kellee Santiago has developed one of the most prominent brands in independent and innovative game development, pushing the communicative possibilities of video games as a medium. She is currently a partner in Indie Fund, which aims to support the growth of games as a medium by helping indie developers get, and stay, financially independent. She is also on the Google Daydream team, as the publishing producer for games & apps.

Kellee speaks around the world at video game business and entertainment conferences on innovation in games, entrepreneurship, games as art and better methods for video game development. In 2010, she became a TED Fellow and was recognized as one of The Ten Most Influential Women in Games of the Past Decade. Kellee has also received the 2011 Microsoft Top Women in Gaming award for Business.
Akira Thompson
Akira Thompson is the owner of and a game designer for RainBros. Rainbros has recently worked on VR projects for theme parks such as Universal Studios Japan, released '…&maybetheywontkillyou', a LARP about being poor and Black in America, and released its first commercial title 'Stop! Thief!!' for iOS and Android  (soon to be released on Sony PlayStation Vita). Akira holds a master's degree from the University of California Santa Cruz and has previously worked at Creative Artist Agency, Walt Disney Imagineering within Research and Development, the University of Southern California and IndieCade. He is also a founding member of Glitch City, a Los Angeles based game development community.
Jonatan van Hove
Joon is a game designer, event organizer, and arcade builder living in Reykjavik. Besides his work on the IGS, he hosts the Tech Toolbox session and he's been involved in a myriad of events in the European indie scene, both on and off-stage. Joon co-founded a tiny game development studio named Glitchnap, based in Copenhagen, where he makes innovative mobile games by day. By night he takes part in a whirlwind of side gigs and makes bad jokes on Twitter.

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