The Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2021 Core Concepts Call for Submissions closed January 11, 2021 at 11:59pm PT.
Welcome from the GDC Advisory Board
The GDC Advisory Board works to build a diverse, high-quality conference program, choosing talks representative of interesting and current work happening in game development. While GDC is respected for the quality of its conference program, the Board strives to continually improve the quality and breadth of talks every year.
GDC requests more comprehensive submissions than other events. This helps the Board better understand what will be presented and help ensure that a great session title and abstract develops into a great talk. This can be challenging for submitters because it requires content to be prepared well ahead of GDC. The Board tries to strike a balance between improving the process for submitters and improving the quality of talks.
GDC relies on grading history for past speakers, while actively seeking new voices that represent diverse perspectives.
Good luck with your submissions for GDC 2021!
If you would like to submit, please take note of the following:
Diversity and Representation
GDC aims to achieve diversity of voice, experience, and perspective. Please take this goal into consideration when considering who would be best to speak on behalf of your company or department and/or when submitting panelists.
GDC 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 submit. If you would like to publicize a product, please visit the become a sponsor page for more information on sponsored sessions.
GDC only accepts 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. GDC requires direct contact with presenters to expedite questions during the submission review process.
GDC Summits + VRDC + Game Career Seminar
Update: GDC Tutorials are part of the GDC Summit program! You can create submissions for any Monday and Tuesday content type all in one place, beginning 1/25 through 2/15, 2021 at 11:59pm PT.
If you are interested in submitting for the GDC Summits, VRDC, or the Game Career Seminar, the call for submissions is closed February 15 at 11:59pm PT.
Proposals submitted to the GDC Summits Call for Submissions will be considered and reviewed by GDC's Summit Advisors. Each program has its own advisors and submissions will be graded separately. There is no penalty for submitting a proposal to both the Core Concepts and Summits Call for Submissions.
Contact Molly Portillo for questions about the Summit + VRDC + Game Career Seminar Call for Submissions.
Phase I: Prepare & Submit Session Proposal
- Speaker Contact Information
- Session Title: Provide a session title in fewer than 10 words. Please try to include keywords, topics, and game titles covered by your talk.
- Track, Format, and Delivery Format
- Presentation Outline: You have approximately 500 words to outline and describe to the GDC Advisory Board what your talk will be about, and why it will be interesting to GDC attendees. This is not the abstract for your talk for the printed program, 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, share supporting data, and provide an outline of your presentation to the Advisory Board, a group of people who have probably read 250 of these descriptions by the time they get to yours. Do not tease with something like, "My lecture will reveal amazing findings about how people play puzzle platformers," instead say, "We have found 90% of people only play puzzle platformers while eating pepperoni pizza," or whatever your amazing finding actually is. If you need more than 500 words to describe your lecture in this way, you can upload supplemental materials (.doc, .pdf, .txt) to your submission.
- Speaker Biography, Game Credits, Speaker History and Twitter username
- Session Description: In 100-150-words, provide a concise description of your session as you would have it appear on the GDC website. Write in 3rd person, present tense.
- Attendee Takeaway: In 50-words or less, tell us what attendees will gain from this presentation. Be specific by giving concrete examples and remember that GDC attendees are experts in their field. Do not use bullet points, write in 3rd person present tense.
- Intended Audience: In 50-words or less, describe your target audience and who will benefit from your presentation. Is prerequisite knowledge necessary for understanding the content of the session? If so, what are the prerequisites? Do not use bullet points, write in 3rd person present tense.
- Supporting material: It is optional to submit supplemental information that supports your session proposal. Additional materials may include white papers, code, demos, videos, images, proof of concept, etc.
- See a sample production & management submission here.
- See a sample programming submission here.
Phase II: Session Proposal Review, Selection & Notification
- Advisory Board reviews submissions
- Submitters are notified of their status: Declined, Phase 2 Conditionally Accepted, or Accepted
- Phase 2 submitters will be required to prepare the complete presentation for review by the advisory board*
- Phase 2 submissions are due mid-March
*Note: You are not a confirmed speaker until your presentation is reviewed and approved by the advisory board.
Phase III: Final Review & Confirmations
- Advisory Board reviews Phase 2 presentations in March
- Phase 2 submitters are notified of their status at the end of April: Declined or Accepted
- Submitters who miss the deadline to submit their presentation plans for review will be automatically declined; exceptions will not be made
- Submitters who sent in their presentation by the deadline but were not accepted to speak can receive a discount on a conference pass. To request, please contact Ashley Corrigan.
The Advisory Board will review and rate submissions based on the following criteria:
- Concept: This is the basic idea of your submission. Is it interesting? Is it relevant? Will it be beneficial for game developers to hear? There is plenty of room for innovative ideas and also the tried and true.
- Depth: Is the basic idea well considered and thought out? To what extent will the audience gain insight? The more in-depth, the better.
- Organization: Are your ideas conducive to present in front of an audience? Will the Advisory Board understand what you are trying to say? Organization helps.
- Credentials: How do your credentials qualify you to speak on the topic you have proposed?
- Takeaway: Is the attendee going to leave this session knowing something they didn't know when they walked in? Are they learning or being inspired? This is the most important aspect of every GDC session. The submissions will be rated on a one to five scale by each of the reviewers and the resulting scores are averaged. Submissions in each category with the highest scores are considered first. If there is too much topic overlap, a lesser scoring submission may be selected to keep variety in the program.
GDC attendees are very intelligent. They are looking for material that is not obvious and expect excellence from GDC speakers. After your presentation, they will evaluate it based on delivery, knowledge of the topic and the visuals presented.
Preparation is one of the most important factors in delivering a successful talk at GDC. Please keep the following in mind when you propose to speak:
- The proposed outline you submit now must match the talk you actually present at GDC. Consider the talk's duration and submit content accordingly.
- Plan to commit AT LEAST 25 hours to prepare for your session
- Rehearse the delivery of your session to be more effective; preferably in front of your peers and/or record yourself speaking and then review it. Both are great ways to practice pacing and timing.
- Your presentation materials must be completed and submitted four weeks before GDC
Please note the GDC Advisory Board and content team are here to help. If you have ANY additional speaking questions you’d like GDC to cover, please email Ashley Corrigan.
Core Concepts Descriptions and Track Topics
Click on one of the GDC 2021 Core Concepts listed below to view descriptions of the topics solicited by the Advisory Board.
Given that the Game Developers Conference is such a large and broad forum, it is extremely important that we address new and existing issues within the realm of social advocacy. Topics to be covered should range from diversity and inclusion to censorship to quality of life, and even game design itself. With these sessions, we hope to offer an environment for discussion and ultimately a place to effect positive change for the development community.
The Audio track is soliciting submissions that cover the following topics:
Innovative, creative, technical, inspirational, practical - we feature talks on every aspect of the art, science, and business of game audio. We want submissions from composers, sound designers, audio directors, and programmers, and all game developers with unique perspectives and experiences with game audio; in-housers, freelancers, academics; indies to AAA; mobile, tablet, PC, console, virtual/augmented reality, and other form factors. We look for those who are willing and able to effectively and efficiently share their experiences and skills with their peers at this cornerstone of the game audio calendar.
Examples of evergreen topics include:
- Creating amazing, unique sound design and music for games and integrated audio experiences
- Your finest analysis, project postmortems, tips & tricks, innovations, and technology
- Platform Challenges - opportunities afforded by new hardware, new user interfaces, and creatively overcoming limitations/restrictions
- "Post-production" - real-time mixing, DSP, their aesthetics and impact on the player experience
- Development - teams, management, direction, tools, pipelines, audio QA, audio localization
- Business - contracts, copyright, licensing, careers, freelancing
- Voice - aesthetics, asset acquisition and integration, performance and direction
This year we'd also love to see submissions addressing these hot topics:
- Career development, from getting started to expanding, adapting, and reinventing
- Diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and skills
- Cross-disciplinary audio: when sound assists or interacts with gameplay in novel ways
- Real-time synthesis and procedural audio - music, sound, and speech
- Novel audio system implementations and programming best practices
- Truly interactive, non-repetitive, and just-in-time musical scoring
- Sound and music for immersive and interactive virtual/augmented reality experiences
- The modern remote workspace: how sound ideas are communicated, made, iterated, and integrated in a time of social distancing
The Business & Marketing track is soliciting submissions that cover the following topics:
Key Platforms of Today & Tomorrow
- Platform analyses and cases studies including real data
- Development and marketing budget planning for new platforms
Marketing & User Acquisition
- Innovative marketing strategies including social, influencer, search & discovery optimization
- Community management, customer service, and open development
- User acquisition techniques, including real data
- Impact of marketing, live ops and on-going development on the wider business
- Crowdfunding, presales, ICO's, and traditional options like VC, project financing, and publisher financing
- Building culture, setting goals, developing talent
- Working with streamers, and building games for streaming
- Data on streamers impact on revenue, retention
- How to monetize streaming of your game
- VR and AR/VR platform analyses with real data
- AR / Mixed Reality platform opportunities
- Building a game for esports, or developing your esports scene
- Revenue opportunities in esports
The advisory board welcomes submissions across all areas of game design, with particular interest in high quality, deep, and insightful talks presented at an advanced level for experienced professional game designers.
The most successful talks, regardless of topic, often include clear, practical takeaways that designers can use in their own work. The key is to show that you have deep and non-intuitive insights into your topic, forged through hands-on experience working on relevant games.
Topics of particular interest include:
- Systems Design (such as economy management, resource balancing, character ability tuning, etc)
- Production Practices (such as incorporating diversity/inclusivity, handling playtesting for procedural content, etc)
- Experiential Design (such as how to create spaces or rulesets that evoke specific emotions, or how vision manifests through design)
- Cutting Edge (such as how new technology and business models are impacting design and the industry)
- Project Postmortems (such as design stories about how a recent launch evolved and changed during development)
The Production & Team Management track is looking for experienced producers who have shipped games to share their best techniques or experiences which helps them produce better games or build better teams. We are financing/genre/platform/business model agnostic - we just want the world's best producers to share their knowledge. We are looking for case studies from everyone! Huge, tiny, startup, established: AAA console developers, Indie developers, Mobile teams, Cross-platform teams, Service teams, etc. A few project case topics the Production & Team Management Track is looking for, but not limited to, are the following topics:
Production Case Studies or day in the life of...
- Making games for new platforms
- Producing AR/VR/XR
- Challenges of shipping on multiple platforms simultaneously
- Building and running a service or managing communities
- Managing licenses
- Any other best practices
Studios & Teams
- Producing with multiple types of production process
- Habits and culture of successful teams
- Building a new team: Start- up, new teams, mature team
- Communication methods for your team and from your team across the organization
- Managing creative people through difficult transitions
- Games as a service
- Working as/with external publisher production
- Doing production when not a producer (very applicable for small/indie teams)
- Transitioning into a producer role from another discipline
- Training and career progression of producers
- Producing multiple projects
- Working with a Product Management team
- Working with or producing your QA group
The Programming track is soliciting lectures focused on new techniques in programming, in particular:
New Game Platforms
How have new platforms and display devices changed game development? How do you tackle the constraints of Virtual or Augmented Reality enabled games? What about scalability aspects? Do you have tips and tricks to share?
Core Engine Techniques
Case studies of difficult problems in core engine development. Possible topics include: advanced multithreading approaches, streaming and open world games, working with massive data sets, scalability, CPU and GPU decoupling, techniques for rapid iteration, and other challenging core engine problems.
Advances in World Simulation
How have gains in computing power allowed for higher fidelity physical simulation? Are you leveraging CPU, GPU, Machine Learning? Possible topics include soft and rigid body physics, cloth, fluid simulation, destruction, and new approaches to animation.
AI Behavior Design
How has AI and NPC behavior advanced over the last year? What new approaches are driving this advance? Have scripting techniques been surpassed by others? And how should AI deal with rendering fidelity taking it down the slope of the uncanny valley?
High-fidelity Character Animation
How has character motion improved to match increasing visual fidelity? Possible topics include advances in data representation (e.g. point clouds, motion graphs, compression, machine learning), facial animation, interactive and synthesized animation, and runtime retargeting.
We want to hear about new developments in persistent universes, pervasively online games, cloud server usage, player-driven economies, multi-authority networking models, security, or how blockchain techniques can enable new designs to empower gamers and communities.
Achieving the Most with Smaller Teams
Most titles are now created with small teams of programmers tightly focused on the specific needs of their title. How do you create complex systems on short time scales and with limited resources? What techniques have you evolved for supporting release on multiple platforms with highly varying specifications? What specific programming problems of larger teams do you avoid? What are the main challenges for smaller programming teams?
Advances in Rendering
Show us your cutting-edge techniques that demonstrate what new hardware is capable of! Possible topics include TAA strategies, content amplification, physically based materials and lighting, real time global illumination, raytracing, new approaches to deferred and forward+ rendering, and advanced usage of compute shaders and GPGPU techniques. Postmortems are welcome, as are examinations of aspirational techniques difficult to achieve in current games.
Tools and Pipelines
Content sizes are increasing dramatically with new platforms. How are you solving the difficult problems in content creation tools, content pipeline development, working with massive data sets, and providing rapid content creator iteration? What innovative tools architecture or pipeline technique did you put in place?
We'd love nitty-gritty detailed talks on various gameplay-oriented subsystems, things that are not rendering, networking, physics, and AI. Examples include object systems, inventory and encumbrance, dynamic reactions to damage, conversation systems, etc. A great example from GDC 2012 was Elan Ruskin's talk, AI-driven Dynamic Dialog through Fuzzy Pattern Matching. Empower Your Writers!.
Automated Testing in Games and Game Engines
What automated tools have you used to catch bugs in your game or engine? Or any other automated processes that improve robustness and quality of complex games.
How has the machine learning revolution impacted your tools pipeline, runtime systems and testing? Have you discovered uses beyond the game itself, e.g. cheat detection of moderation of the online community?
And anything new, fresh or experimental!
If you are doing something in a different way that advances the state of the art, we would love to hear about it!
Success of the GDC Visual Arts track has grown over the past few years and we want you to help us build on that momentum. We want disruptive, inspirational and amazing artists, art directors, and art managers to speak this year. We're looking for people who are willing to share their skills and techniques with us. We want to hear from directors and managers who can teach us how to build great art teams, and create outstanding visuals on tight budgets and schedules. And we're seeking out top notch technical artists to show us new insights in look development and tool creation.
Inspirational Art Direction Talks
Continuing with our 'coffee table book' art direction sessions from last year we're looking for art directors who are willing to not only talk about the evolution of their game's style but to show us that evolution. Whether you're a AAA big budget developer or a small 2-person indie team, pull back the curtain and reveal the sketches, concepts, prototypes and in-development shots/videos that led you to the final look of your product.
TECHNIQUES and DEMOS!
Visual artists are just that, visual. We want to see what you know, not just hear about it. We want artists to teach us new techniques, new tools and new styles. Can't talk and draw at the same time? No problem, we'll even let you have two presenters - one to talk and one to demonstrate. Show off your 3D modeling techniques, concept art drawing, and animation work to the best audience in the world - your peers.
Next Gen Art Techniques
A new generation of consoles has arrived, and it's time to take advantage of planning the new graphics goodies it will bring. What will we be able to do with ray tracing, procedural art generation, materials, or with new pipelines? Help set the agenda for the next generation of graphics by sharing your cutting-edge techniques and plans.
Art Management and Production Talks
Did you develop an interesting strategy that saved you art development time and/or money? Did an in-house or 3rd party tool help alleviate your production pipeline woes? How do you manage to keep your artists from seeing the trees instead of the forest? We'd love to hear about your solutions to these problems and more!
What core values are you looking for when you hire artists? How do you manage critiques within your organization? What have you done to adapt to remote work requirements in the COVID-19 pandemic? Share your successes (and failures) in this with us so we can create better collaborative environments at our studios.
What sets your game's animation apart from everyone else in the industry? What went right in your latest game's motion capture sessions? What went wrong? What have you learned from studying animation techniques used in other entertainment industries? Share your lessons with other animators as we want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding animation trials and tribulations.
2D Art Production Pipeline Talks
Games with vibrant 2D art continue to thrive in the market. How can developers better solve the pipeline problems that come with this art style? We want to hear from someone who can talk about an interesting 2D art production pipeline.
Character Design Talks
We'd like to see a character talk that speaks to the DESIGN of the characters, not just how to sculpt high-frequency detail in Zbrush or do pretty rendering in Photoshop so the character design can pass a publisher focus test.
Show us your tech, TAs
You're the glue that holds art production together, TAs. What new ideas in tools and pipelines have you developed this past year? What new shader techniques are you investigating for next-gen? Is there look development work you've done that would enlighten us? Come show us and inspire us!
|Lectures||30 or 60 Minutes|
Lectures are issue-oriented, provide concrete examples, and contain both practical and theoretical information.
GDC generally prefers 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 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 Q&A time should be accounted for.
We prefer 60 minutes for this format and no more than 5 people with diverse representation. Include all of the panelists you have confirmed in the proposal.
A very limited number of panels will be accepted.
Roundtables are small peer discussion groups led by one or two moderators.
Moderators should facilitate conversation and keep the flow of discussion inspired and moving. They do not lecture or dictate.
Constructive controversy and debate are very welcome in roundtables.
Topics that are open-ended in nature and promote an exchange of ideas from people likely to have different viewpoints generally work best in this format.
Roundtables can run up to three times, once a day during GDC Conference days, Wednesday-Friday.
|Summits (Formerly Tutorials)||1 or 2 Days|
All Monday and Tuesday content has been folded into the GDC Summits program.
Tutorial submissions will no longer be solicited in the Core Concepts Call for Submissions.
GDC Summits are curated deep dives into specific pre-determined topics, covering a comprehensive range of game development disciplines.
Summits are programmed with unique advisory boards.
NOTE: GDC does NOT supply any hardware (e.g. laptops) for attendees. If you need attendees to bring anything, this must be CLEARLY stated in your proposal.