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GDC 2023 Pre-event Highlights

GDC 2023 conference information is increasing at a rapid rate with weekly updates coming from the event coordination team. Last week they produced their January 2023 Press Newsletter sites like ours receives. See below for some relevant highlights that we can share with you.

1 – Finalists were revealed for the 23rd Annual Game Developers Choice (GDCA) Awards

2 – Finalists were revealed for the 25th Annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) awards

3 – Several key sessions were highlighted

4 – Results for the 11 annual State of the Games Industry Survey were revealed

Check out the details below as referenced from the newsletter:

1) The 23rd Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) Finalists

The finalists for the Game Developers Choice Awards, the leading peer-based video game event celebrating the industry’s top games and developers, were revealed.

The top nominees, picked by developers from across the industry, include FromSoftware’s Elden Ring with six total nominations, followed closely by God of War Ragnarök and Stray which are tied with five nominations apiece. These three titles are also contenders for the coveted Game of the Year prize, accompanied in that category by IMMORTALITY, Pentiment and TUNIC. 

For more information on the 2023 Game Developers Choice Awards, including the full list of finalists, please visit: http://www.gamechoiceawards.com. As in years past, the Game Developers Choice Awards will be live-streamed alongside the Independent Games Festival Awards on the official GDC Twitch channel.

2) The 25th Annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Finalists 

The IGF, the longest-running festival, summit and showcase celebrating independent games and their creators, has revealed this year’s finalists.

Two finalist titles share the distinction of having three nominations apiece and those titles include:

TUNIC by Tunic Team, nominated for Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Visual Arts and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Betrayal At Club Low by Cosmo D Studios, is nominated for Excellence in Design, the Nuovo Award (the award that “makes the jurors think differently about games as a medium”) and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. 


The other nominees for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize are:

  • The Case of the Golden Idol (also nominated for Excellence in Design) by Color Gray Games is a new kind of detective game that allows you to think and investigate freely. Pick your suspect, deduce the motive, unmask the awful truth.

    IMMORTALITY  (also nominated for Excellence in Narrative) by Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid Productions is a haunting new game from the creator of Her Story. Players use the cinematic ability to teleport from scene to scene via match-cut to explore a treasure trove of newly unearthed footage from the lost films of film actor Marissa Marcel, who has gone missing. 

  • Neon White (also nominated for Excellence in Design) by Angel Matrix is a lightning-fast single-player speedrunning FPS where you can sacrifice your guns for godlike parkour moves.
  • Not For Broadcast by NotGames puts players in control of the National Nightly News, as a radical government comes to power. In this immersive, high-pressure, propaganda sim, you control what the people see and determine what’s Not For Broadcast.

    For more information on the 2023 Independent Games Festival, including the full list of finalists,  please visit the official Independent Games Festival website. The winners will be revealed at the IGF Awards ceremony on March 22 at GDC.

3) GDC 2023 Session Highlights

GDC 2023 will feature sessions from some of the industry’s biggest game studios and companies. A few new notable sessions below:

One year after the launch of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, developers Shinya Kumazaki and Tatsuya Kamiyama will discuss how they brought traditional Kirby gameplay into a 3D world, as well as examine some of the new features in the game, including the fan-favorite Mouthful Modem, in a session titled The Many Dimensions of Kirby. Additionally, the developers will talk about the recently launched Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for Nintendo Switch and how they reimagined the 2D gameplay and the world of the multiplayer Wii classic. Close out the 30th anniversary of Kirby with this session celebrating Kirby’s multi-dimensional milestone year. Pink attire not required!

In a session titled The Character Rendering Art of ‘The Callisto Protocol’, Jorge Jimenez and Glauco Longhi will cover how art and technology worked as one in the pursuit of photorealism for The Callisto Protocol. This encompasses a journey of discovering the process of achieving photorealism through an unconventional philosophical approach.

In the panel titled Black Excellence in Game Development: The Designer’s Dilemma, game designers and industry professionals address how companies can better support black designers in creative and corporate dynamics. Panelists will discuss the value black designers can bring to every team and how to incubate diverse ideas into game design.


When we fail to ask the most critical and foundational question about our work, excellent ideas go unheard, meetings devolve into chaos, and departments and individuals alike end up mired in conflict over different directions. Fortunately, this lecture titled The Most Important Question in Game Design will help turn game developers’ confusion to clarity, conflict to harmony, and thrashing to productive iteration. Learn how to reduce meeting stress, cool tensions, and move your team forward with seven simple words.

Creating a Living World in Horizon: Forbidden West in the Game Narrative Summit, hosted by Espen Sogn (Lead Living World Designer, Guerrilla), will discuss how the team improved the living world experience for Horizon Forbidden West. After Horizon Zero Dawn was released in 2017, one of the team’s goals for the sequel was to showcase the tribes and their cultures even better in the world of Horizon. In order to do so, this required a whole new approach to the world and NPC development process. This lecture will explain the thought processes and philosophy behind what the team think makes a believable game world and what steps they took to implement it in Horizon Forbidden West

4) GDC’s 11th Annual State of the Game Industry Survey Results

GDC released the results of its 11th annual State of the Game Industry Survey, providing insights and data on hot-button topics like unionization, blockchain, accessibility efforts, platform preferences, player/fan toxicity and “The Great Resignation.” 

The responses from over 2,300 game industry professionals reflect findings including:|

14% of developers pointed to ‘Fortnite’ as the likely metaverse winner, although nearly half (45%) of respondents remain skeptical and didn’t select any companies/ platforms, instead stating that the metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise.

Studio interest in blockchain technology did not grow in the past year. In fact, 61% of developers said they were opposed to using blockchain technology in games in the future

Majority of respondents work for indie studios rather than AAA 

Hybrid work schedules are on the rise with one-fourth of the game developers surveyed noting they primarily work remotely with the option to go into the office

Support for unionization remains strong, with a majority of developers supporting, and one-fifth broaching the topic at work

Developers cite salary, company culture, and remote work as top factors for considering a job switch. Furthermore, more than half of respondents expressed that, over the past year, they’ve either changed the companies they work for (16%) or have thought about doing so (36%)

91% of respondents said that player harassment and toxicity is an issue in the industry

Accessibility efforts in games maintain steady growing support with 38% of respondents replying yes when asked if their current games implement accessibility measures for those with sensory, motor, or other impairments

The full survey, which includes more insight into the game development community’s thoughts on these topics and a multitude of other facts and details, can be downloaded for free here.

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