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A new approach to 2021 with a family of GDC events and more!

2020 was a singular year in all of our lives. I personally navigated the weird world of having a baby in the middle of a pandemic. And for us as GDC, as an organization that traditionally poured so much into one week of the year, we had to adapt, be agile and modify all of our plans.

Going into 2021, we still have many unknowns, but we have been able to look at the year ahead and reimagine how we can serve the game industry. Our goals are largely the same: providing resources and great content as well as networking and discussion platforms to connect the industry. But the new constraints around in-person gatherings and travel also brought creativity, and we have been able to develop new formats, and new ways to offer content and community support throughout the year.

So, as Game Developers Conference celebrates its 35th edition this year, rather than pack everything into one week, we are hosting a family of GDC events that will deliver high-quality, curated content in more flexible and accessible ways online, as well as designing events that play to the strengths of virtual conferences, including more fluid networking and matchmaking opportunities.

The evolved approach to GDC programs in 2021 allows us to create new offerings such as deep dives for specialized areas and further exploration of timely topics across a key industry themes through unique showcases. This is all in addition to producing GDC’s advisory board curated conference program, as well as hosting our annual prestigious award ceremonies by game developers and for game developers.

We are very excited to bring the game development community this thoughtful set of experiences, content and services that we hope will enhance our industry, help share learnings, create connections, and inspire great games.

Here’s a quick overview of what we have coming:

GDC Masterclass (March 4-5): GDC Masterclass is a new format we introduced this past fall, and consists of one and two-day small-group virtual workshops that deliver in-depth, hands-on training around some of the most important challenges facing game developers today. These classes, led by some of the sharpest minds in the industry, are a return to deeper, more intense learnings that go back to GDC’s roots and offer individualized feedback and practical experience.

GDC Showcase (March 15-19): This first showcase event is a free-to-attend, all-digital event created to provide the GDC community a chance to come together safely in March. This one-of-a-kind event will provide a taste of what GDC is all about while exploring a slightly different and new array of content and formats, featuring spotlight lectures, AMAs with the people behind some of the industry's biggest games, interactive panels with renowned game developers, live podcasts, and more.

GDC 2021 (July 19-23): We will host our traditional week-long, multi-track educational and business focused event online in 2021. While we can’t wait to gather in the halls of Moscone together again, and we did consider an in-person component this year, we have decided that it’s more important that our speakers, attendees and sponsors be able to plan ahead, to continue to be as safe as possible, and to spend our attention on delivering the best possible GDC. As in a more traditional year, this year’s conference will be filled with deep content developed with our advisory board, a focus on community-building, networking and celebrations that GDC is known for.

Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards (July 21) The IGF and GDCAs will return during the main GDC event. Submissions for the IGF Awards are already in and nominees will be announced in early May. We’ll have more to share soon on the GDCAs, but as always we look forward to this moment of peer-recognition in the video game industry. The awards will take place back-to-back like usual and will be livestreamed on the official GDC Twitch channel.

We’re also planning to host additional GDC-branded events in the second half of the year to keep the learning and networking going throughout this period of what feels like constant change, so we’ll have more to share on that soon.

That’s about it for events for now, but it’s worth noting that we will once again publish the annual State of the Game Industry Survey: Every year we poll thousands of game developers to get a glimpse into what developers are thinking about and where the industry is heading. Traditionally the survey also kicks off some topics that we gather to discuss during the main conference week.

Last but not least, between our always updated and improving GDC Vault that houses years of great talks and some new plans for Gamasutra to add some community features along with a long-overdue rebrand(!), we are excited about our online resources, content and platforms that help continue the dialogue every day, not just during event periods.

I can’t wait to be back on campus with everyone again. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and participation in GDC and its extensions, and please stay safe!

- Katie


Connecting the Global Game Development Community