In context: The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted almost all of us in one way or another, but conventions were certainly hit harder than most. The annual Game Developers Conference, unfortunately, was not immune to this reality. As stay-at-home orders and lockdowns went into effect, event organizers were forced to hurriedly schedule an online-only version GDC 2020 experience.

That digital event kicked off earlier this month, and for the most part, things seemed to proceed smoothly. Nonetheless, it seems GDC's leadership team is not eager to make digital events the norm moving forward.

According to an announcement published on the GDC website yesterday, GDC 2021 will not be online-only. However, it also won't be a traditional in-person event -- instead, it'll be a hybrid conference: a physical event supplemented by a robust digital presence.

GDC's executives have not provided us with any details regarding how such an event will work in practice. For example, we're not sure how strictly social distancing rules will be implemented (if at all), nor do we know if there will be any attendance limits.

Of course, with a little luck, perhaps such restrictions won't be necessary at all. GDC 2021 will be taking place in July next year, so organizers have roughly 11 months to come up with a workable format for the event. It's also possible that the Covid-19 situation will be handled by then, though only time will tell on that front.

For those who don't know, the annual GDC conference is typically a week-long event filled with presentations surrounding just about every aspect of game development. Industry pros talk about everything from quest design and storytelling to marketing and monetization.

While it may not excite the average gamer as much as, say, E3, it's always an educational experience for anyone who has an interest in the nitty-gritty of game development.

In addition to revealing GDC 2021's format, event organizers used their latest announcement as an opportunity to tease GDC's "Master Classes." Master Classes will be "day-long and multi-day virtual workshops" that will feature "Deep-dive looks" at specific aspects of game development.

We have no idea what aspects will be covered by these classes, but more details on their structure and timing will arrive in the coming weeks.

Middle image credit: The Washington Post