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5 GDC talks you can watch over the holiday break

Want to get in some game development education over the holidays? Here are five talks that will help you make better games going into 2021.

The holidays are a wonderful time for rest and recuperation. For a number of different reasons, you may find yourself spending more time at home than ever over the next two weeks with plenty of time to kill.

Why not spend some of that time catching up on GDC talks you may have missed out on?

For your benefit, we've gone ahead and picked out a few particularly worthwhile sessions from GDCs of years past that may help you gear up for 2021.

Whether you're the kind of developer who likes keeping talks on as background noise, or want to sit down and take notes about something you didn't know about in game development, these talks should help jog your brain and keep you inspired over your long winter's rest.

So You're Ready to Pitch to a Publisher? You're Not

In 2021, developers of all sizes will be gearing up to pitch their great ideas to game publishers. But experienced developers know by now that a good game idea does not a pitch make. In this 2019 GDC session, Finji CEO Rebekah Saltsman explains their studio's pitching process for games they pitch to partners, and explains what Finji looks for from indie developers who pitch to them.

The Gamer's Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Design

Veteran GDC speaker and GDC Masterclass instructor Celia Hodent began a long series of incredible GDC talks with The Gamer's Brain, a UX breakdown that can help you better understand the neurological habits of your players and help improve your game's experience. Hodent's given a number of great GDC talks on the topic, this one can be the one that helps you kick off your UX journey.

A How-To Guide for Muslim Representation in Video Games

In 2018, game designer Osama Dorias wowed GDC attendees with a presentation that mixed his own life experience and research to explain the power of Muslim representation in video games. Watching his talk might help you reflect on who you can speak to when developing characters for your next game, and how game developers can tell honest, authentic stories about a group of people who make up nearly a quarter of the world's population.

Forget Protagonists: Writing NPCs with Agency for 80 Days and Beyond

Game writers and designers might be spending the holiday dreaming up incredible stories for the next generation of video games. But how can you make your story stand out? What if you gave more agency to the characters your player meets along the way? Game writer Meghna Jayanth broke down her writing process in this excellent 2016 talk for the story behind 80 Days.

If you're in a rut trying to make players care about your game's characters, maybe she can help you out.

Owlboy: The Motivational Power of Inspiration

Sometimes game development takes a long, long time. The 2D platformer Owlboy took the folks at D-Pad Studios about nine years to complete, but the result was an incredibly beautiful game that fused a deep platforming adventure with great characters who took the developers' indomitable spirit to heart.

You might be finishing 2020 with some doubts about the current state your game is in. If you are, we'd strongly suggest you check out Simon Stafsnes Andersen's talk to learn from a developer who's been in the exact same place you've been, with the same doubts and worries about the future.

For a deeper dive into a specific part of game development, be sure to check out the different playlists available on our YouTube channel! These cover topics like game design, programming, business, animation, and much much more.

From everyone here at the GDC team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!

GDC and Gamasutra are sibling organizations under Informa Tech

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