Lost Levels (#lostlevels) is a radically-casual annual "unconference" picnic during Game Developer Conference (GDC) that aims to be more inclusive and accessible. It has been a community tradition since 2013.

It is free ($0) to participate. Anyone can give a talk or run a discussion about games / play!

WHEN: the Thursday of GDC week at noon, every year, forever!!! (... but if it rains, then see you on Friday instead?...) bring your lunch!

WHERE: gather near the "Gazebo" in the middle of Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco (big grassy public park near Moscone Center)

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From now on, you run Lost Levels. We believe in you! Below is a recommended procedure based on past years, but you can adjust it or do whatever you like.

  1. 1. Join some folks and sit around a nice visible spot in the park near the gazebo. (Tweet about it using #lostlevels hashtag; if tweeting a photo or video, please ask if people are OK with it first.)
  2. 2. Pass around a pen and a sign-up list (piece of paper or notepad). To go next, write your name on the list.
  3. 3. When it's your turn, either (A) give a 5 min talk, or (B) run a 5-10 min discussion. Someone else should volunteer to keep track of time, and also signal when there's 1 minute left.
  4. 4. When the session is done, applaud, and then call the next name on the sign-up list. If they're not here, move on to the next person for now.
  5. 5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the sign-up list is empty... Also, feel free to leave, or join a different circle of people, or even form a new circle of people, at any time.


RUN SAFETY TALKS / CHECK-INS / DISCUSSIONS THROUGHOUT THE DAY! This is an unplanned non-permit event at a public park, and there is no official leader to resolve any problems. We highly encourage running talks / discussions about how to take care of each other and feel safer at Lost Levels. If something stressful does happen, make sure to notify each other of the resolution and reaffirm the community's norms and values.

NO AMPLIFIED SOUND! Please do not bring a PA system or megaphone. The park management requires a (very expensive) permit for any amplified sound.

HOW TO END THE DAY: Consider doing a massive group hug, or play a game called "hug / high-five / fist-bump as many people as possible".

FINALLY: CLEAN-UP! Pick up any trash left on the ground, and urge fellow attendees to help, even if it's not your trash. Keeping park management happy will help us continue meeting here for many years to come.

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First time speaking? That's OK! You've got this!

Just be honest, be yourself, and say what you need to say.

Everyone will listen.

Good luck!


Lost Levels was centrally facilitated from 2013-2016 by Mattie Brice, Mohini Dutta, Toni Pizza, Squinky, Harry Lee, Robert Yang, Fernando Ramallo, and Ian Snyder... and previously hosted by Game Nest in 2015 (thanks!)... also big thanks to all the people / helpers / photographers / speakers / presenters / listeners who've helped it happen year after year... and a very special thanks to Ric Chivo.

Originally, we adopted a rotating leadership structure because we thought Lost Levels should belong to the community, and evolve according to the community's needs... but now we think it is stronger as a folk tradition that happens every year, without any official "leaders", as long as there are people like you who will keep it alive.

Lost Levels is yours, and it always has been. It is a reminder that we do not need to pay thousands of dollars for permission to talk to each other; instead, we can self-organize and sustain our own communities, and work to include folks with less resources to spend on conferences. Thanks for making this happen over the past years, and thanks for participating in the many years ahead!... See you at noon.

Lost Levels 2014 transparency report