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View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, pass type, topic, and format. With this Session Viewer, you can view GDC 2023 session details and speakers, and share your favorites via social media. You will be able to build your schedule and access it during the show via export or Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up and seating is first come, first serve, so arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend.

Independent Games Summit: Make Games Like a Horse: The Design of 'Bugsnax'

John Murphy  (Studio Head, Young Horses)

Location: Room 2005, West Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 21

Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

In this session, John Murphy of Young Horses (Octodad, Bugsnax) discusses how his team makes their weird-yet-compelling games. Using Bugsnax as the example, John explains how the team at Young Horses decides what game to make, figures out what the game wants to be, and makes tough design decisions.

Would you like to learn what movies inspired Bugsnax? Want to know which AAA game Bugsnax relentlessly stole from? Need to learn why Bugsnax doesn't have a mini-game where the player chops up adorable food-bugs into bite-sized pieces? After this talk you too will understand what it means to make games like a Horse.


Attendees will learn how Young Horses balance their desire to make games that both appeal to a broad audience and are strange and surprising to both make and play, how emergent silliness translates into a first-person creature-trapping game, and about the challenges and opportunities of creating comedy in a systemic game.

Intended Audience

This is for anyone interested in making games that attempt to balance newness, weirdness, fun, and approachability.