5 lessons from 1 year online GDC event

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic was forced to delay GDC2020. At that time, we had the hope that we might be able to meet again in the summer. But it soon became clear that if you wanted to get people together for a game developer conference, you needed to be online.

So a year of experimentation and iteration began, which may seem to reflect the game development process. We needed to stay in close contact with stakeholders and sponsors as we evaluated our core competencies, found new technology partners like Swapcard, entered the online space, and rethought the basics of GDC.

It was an incredibly challenging and rewarding process. Thanks to Informa’s talented team here, we have learned some valuable lessons about switching to online events. Some of them stick to us even if it’s safe to meet again in person.

Every year, we invite game developers to share game development lessons with the world on GDC. That’s why today we’re sharing a lesson with you to run an online GDC event.

Bringing speakers and attendees closer than ever

In 2020, we invited speakers to pre-record their upcoming talks and submit them for broadcast on the official GDC Twitch channel. It was our first moment and we made our talk debut on the internet without a direct event.

As a result, it was not possible to predict one of the most organic behaviors of the week. Speakers listen to the broadcast on a regular basis and answer questions in chat on the spot while the story is on the air.

It was magical. Very magically, GDC Summer arranges for pre-recorded speakers to join the chat for Q & A at the same time, and GDC Showcase invites veteran GDC speakers to get the latest out of the old talks. Provided information.

The connection at each of these talks was clear. This is a friendly way to discuss big ideas and evolve the possibilities of GDC talk. It includes not only prepared speeches and slides, but also subtle details that come from the sense of full-text conversation.

Invite an international audience

GDC is proud to welcome speakers, attendees and sponsors from around the world. When we started planning for GDC Summer, the first consideration was for participants to come from multiple time zones, not just Pacific time.

We set up social events at both ends of the 12 hours of the day to show content on Swapcard as soon as possible to reach as many people as possible around the world. As a result, GDC Summer attendees included a much higher percentage of foreign attendees than ever seen at a real GDC event.

Online events that span multiple time zones have made it possible for developers around the world. We want to include that audience when the pandemic is over.

Adaptation experiment

Being online at GDC meant that many of the usual standbys for engagement and relaxation at GDC were physically impossible. (The bean bag chair has been found to occupy more space in people’s homes than the Moscorn Center).

We asked the GDC team to come up with big, bold new ideas that could help improve the GDC experience and bring them to fruition. Invited hosts like Spawn On Me’s Carleaf Adams And esports personality Jess Brouhard To guide developers through our event. We have partnered with Monteray Bay Aquariam. We held a virtual concert featuring Mega Run, 88 Bit, and Insane Rain!

None of these were obvious hits. If what you see surprises you, it’s because someone on the GDC team has endorsed the idea and put a lot of effort into making it possible.

Continuous cohort

At the GDC showcase, another unexpected emergency action occurred. Thanks to streamlined broadcast schedules, groups of game developers moving from chat room to chat room have become more connected and familiar with each other. They were not separated from the discussions and events taking place elsewhere.

We rarely see such forms of social connection. With more than 400 sessions planned at GDC in July, that experience cannot be replicated in the following locations: all The event found that this was a reliable process that helped groups of disconnected participants get to know each other better.

Video on demand

Over the years, we’re very proud of the process by which speakers speak at GDC, and those talks are uploaded to GDC Vault and added to the GDC YouTube channel over time. Game development viewers want to catch missed sessions, look up old stories to see how other developers have solved similar problems, and remember about their favorite video games. I will.

There was nothing Really Previously, it was possible for GDC participants to re-listen to talks on the GDC itself. I caught the talk when it was delivered or waited for it to appear in GDC Vault.

At the GDC Summer and GDC Showcases, we quickly learned how much participants value what they can do. Create your own schedule, Create a dedicated time to learn more about game development. If I couldn’t hear live because of other obligations, it was okay! You can start watching the story, move away, and resume where you left off.

If you’re one of the participants who chose to watch the GDC Showcase or Summer on their own schedule, you can expect this on-demand technology to help power up the GDC 2021.


As we prepare for GDC 2021, GDC marketing specialist Sarah McCauley begins to feel that the schedule “builds his own GDC” thanks to all the technical improvements, giving him the time and space to build. I joked that it could be distorted. Any GDC schedule you want.

After a bit of a laugh at the “temporarily confused GDC,” I began to realize that what she was explaining was actually more relevant. In running GDC online events, we are learning more and more about respecting attendees’ time.

We are not However We learned to transform GDC into an online format and do so while overcoming the pandemic that is disrupting our lives. GDC attendees had to take their pets out with their kids in the background and attended the show with the Swapcard in one window and the Jira task list in another.

Last year, our world was all overturned and we were all trying to adapt to new conditions. For GDC, it meant understanding how to shape events around the lives of attendees, rather than relying strictly on the fixed schedules that shape direct meetings.

This is one of the lessons I’ve learned since 2021, especially when my daughter joins the mix.

We will ensure your safety and thank you for all your support. We look forward to meeting you in person at GDC.

Gamasutra and GDC are brothers of InformaTech.

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