January 1, 2023 11:59PM
REVIEW + DECISION PERIOD
January 2, 2023 - January 10, 2023
GDC SESSION DATE
Friday March 24 at 1:30pm
(GDC runs from March 20, 2023 - March 24, 2023)
What is new with EGW?
An overview and update on this year’s Experimental Game Workshop at GDC 2023
Formerly the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, EGW is a GDC tradition in its 21st year: an annual session where many developers have shown novel game ideas through prototypes and design retrospective microtalks.
Given the increasing amount of work that broadly fits the scope as "experimental" and the general difficulty in the past of defining what exactly "experimental gameplay" is and isn't, we decided it was appropriate to broaden the scope. So now, the session is just called Experimental Game Workshop, with a continuing interest in play but not a prioritizing focus on it.
We've heard feedback from industry peers about how EGW's prior focus on gameplay often emphasized specific types of experimentation over others. To some, this felt at times overly narrow and missing the bigger picture of what’s happening in different spheres of game development across the world. So we’re opening the selection criteria even further, bringing in a new and expanded set of judges + organizers, and continuing with the evolving goals of the session.
These goals are:
Showcase games with unexpected play experiences or unique feelings in interactivity.
Encourage exploration of uniquely deep and resonant experiences through play.
Grow diversity in game types, game creators, game subcultures, narrative representations, and the use of new mediums.
Responsibly steward a tradition of sharing inspiring work.
We want this session to represent a larger swath of the unique and compelling experimentation that is happening in the world of games than it sometimes has in the past. Because of this, we're aiming to turn this session into a showcase of experimentation across the whole spectrum of interactivity: not only in gameplay, but in all aspects of game development. Including accepting new non-game presentations on community and culture!
We strongly encourage designers from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and underrepresented communities to apply. We’re also in the process of growing the EGW community and further developing connections between experimental creators.
For many, the EGW is a first chance to go to GDC and learn from other developers while also showing their work. We have a Discord server of recent EGW participants who are interested in sharing their projects and processes with each other around the conference. We’re actively looking for suggestions on how to grow and support this community at GDC, online, and beyond.
By making a submission, we will consider you a part of that community and extend an invitation to participate in it, regardless of whether your game or presentation is selected for this year’s GDC showcase. We’re excited to see what you’re working on!
How is the EGW changing?
We are now including talks about game projects and cultural presentations
We aim for this session to be more holistically focused on all aspects of game making and game culture than before. Alongside microtalks featuring individual games, we also would like to include presentations about broader cultural movements in experimental game making.
What is an experimental game project?
Experimental games take interesting and unusual approaches to interactivity that haven't been tried before. They often challenge existing ideas about what can be done in an interactive medium. This definition can be unavoidably vague by necessity, so we've provided some kinds of experimentation that we’re familiar with and may guide your explanation of your submission:
Concise unique or novel mechanical exploration
Philosophical or personal statement / poetic games
Aesthetic or narrative experimentation with resonant affect
Generative or systemic depth, player experimentation within robust dynamics
New interaction methods / models / devices / experiences
And More! Stuff we can’t define! Tell us about it!
What does an experimental game culture presentation entail?
If you are a community organizer, academic, culture writer, or some other person with awareness of one of these spaces and would like to speak about it, we’d love to hear from you. In this category we imagine speakers could give presentations overviewing topics such as:
Interactive art exhibitions
Modding communities and practices
Zine making for critical discourse or generative rpg storytelling
User generated content trends
Alternate reality games
Unique game jam formats
Anything else in the larger goal of novelty and expression within interactive mediums.
This aspect is still very much a work in progress and dependent on the submissions we receive in a given year - but is something we’d love to move towards featuring more of in the future.
Who is currently running the session?
Judges: Carol Mertz, Liz Ryerson, Hesi Mendez, Yiyi Zhang
Organizers: Sebastián Gioseffi, Sebastián Blanco, Jake Weidner
Our goal is to cycle judges and organizers every couple years, along with some new longer term advisors to keep the showcase going and evolve its focus alongside the medium. This is, of course, subject to further revision in the future - as the EGW is a growing and evolving organism.
More about the team here.
What kind of work is accepted?
For Game Projects
We accept both finished games and playable prototypes. Work presented in submissions that are finished games may be from the past, as long as the concepts still feel fresh in the current design landscape.
NOTE THAT in showcasing finished work from the past, we generally prefer submissions from developers who have had less exposure for their work, or who have not presented their work in a setting like GDC before.
Projects can be in any stage of development, so long as the aspects that make the game experimental are playable. The submission doesn't need to be fun, but the experimental idea behind it has to be interesting and clear. This session is about celebrating the process of experimentation over fully polished and successful results. We look for work that demonstrates a deep and consistent exploration with the game’s mechanics, themes, and/or motifs.
For Culture Presentations
We accept video submissions of the talk you intend to give, a sample of yourself speaking on a relevant topic, or the entire talk itself (if you’ve already given a similar presentation). You can include slides, images, or other materials as part of the submission.
The video does not have to be super polished or have high production value, so no need to to acquire any kind of specialized video or audio equipment. We’ll gladly accept laptop webcam or phone video submissions. We are only assessing the relevance and quality of the content.
Depending on the number of available slots for the session, we may also decide to offer you to show a video instead of a live presentation.
What if I cannot attend GDC?
This will not prevent you from sharing the space with all the awesome devs. We can show a video about your prototype during the show.
Is there info about previous GDC sessions?
Yes! You can find previous calls for submissions here, and recorded sessions in the GDC Vault.
If you have questions about your submission or need clarification about the process, please email us here or find us on Twitter at @ExpGameWorkshop.
We look forward to hearing from you - and hope to see you at GDC!