Robin Hunicke is the co-founder of Funomena, an independent game company located in the heart of San Francisco. A computer scientist and artist by training, she has been designing and producing commercial games since 2005. Executive Producer of the award-winning PSN title Journey, her prior work includes The Sims 2, MySims, and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox series for the Nintendo Wii.
Recognized as an influential Woman in Games, Robin is an evangelist for diversity of thought and participation in game design and game culture. She co-organizes the annual Experimental Gameplay Workshop, has chaired the IndieCade Festival of Independent Games, and lectures extensively on the MDA framework for game design. She believes that developers can create novel, experimental designs by focusing on the feeling.
Vander Caballero is a leading member of the Canadian video game community. As Design Director at EA Montreal from the studio’s inception in 2004 through his departure to co-found Minority in 2010, Vander created 2 IPs for EA, Army of Two & Boogie. He also worked on many of EA’s major franchises including FIFA, Need for Speed, The Sims and Spore. As the Creative Director at Minority, Vander is exploring new directions in game concept and design in a way that’s only truly possible at an independent studio.
Michael Edmonds, Amazon
Michael is Head of Education at Amazon Game Services. He is a policy specialist and industry employment researcher with over twenty-five years of experience in entertainment arts, video game design and development. Michael launched Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment Division’s educational initiatives and ran their outreach programs for over a decade. He’s consulted for Logitech, SoftImage, the Foundry, and more recently, ran global education policy and outreach at Unity Technologies, Inc. prior to his move to Amazon. Edmonds has consulted for the California Assembly on Critical Issues in support of the state’s entertainment economy, various state departments of education, accreditation boards, NGOs, the US Department of Education, Congress and the White House on issues of technology, economic development and employment. He is the recipient of two congressional awards for technical innovation and public service.
AJ Glasser, Unity
AJ Glasser is a longtime games journalist with over 10 years experience writing for GamePro magazine, Kotaku, Polygon, and Inside Social Games. She started her career in quality assurance testing on the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series with Sony Computer Entertainment and later moved to Sega of America where she worked on Shining Force EXA, Alien Syndrome, and Crush. She’s worked in localization for Natsume and Nintendo, and also consulted on game design for The Sims 3 and The Sims 4. The most Google-able things she’s ever done are the articles, “No Cheering in the Press Box and other Rules Games Journalism Needs,” “Pregnancy in Video Games,” and “Girls’ Night in With the Most Male Game of 2009.” You may also have seen her on an episode of Penny Arcade’s “Strip Search” series.
More recently, Glasser moved over to business development for games – first at Facebook and now at Unity Technologies. She still talks (at length) about games journalism and its rapidly changing role in the games industry. She holds a Masters in Journalism from Stanford University.
Chris Jurney is a rock and roll experimental engineer with 14 years of experience in games and simulation. He has shipped a number titles in the games industry, including Company of Heroes, Dawn of War 2, and Iron Brigade. Chris frequently speaks on the topic of game AI, having presented at GDC, GDC China, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and chapters of the IGDA. He has also written 2 articles published in AI Game Programming Wisdom 4 and patrols his neighborhood nightly for incursions from a nearby chaos dimension with a ragtag group of highly skilled adventurers.
Anna Kipnis, Double Fine
Anna Kipnis is a Senior Gameplay Programmer at Double Fine Productions, where she has worked since 2002. At Double Fine, she has contributed to various unreleased and top secret projects as well as Psychonauts (2005), Brütal Legend (2009), Costume Quest (2010), Once Upon a Monster (2011), The Cave (2012), Dear Leader (designed and led the prototype, 2014), Broken Age (2015), Headlander (2016), and is currently working on Psychonauts 2. She is active in the indie game community and has collaborated with Santa Ragione on Final Candidation (2013) and the recent Wheels of Aurelia (2016). She is also the founding organizer of Molyjam, a game jam inspired by Peter Molyneux and his fake Twitter account, @petermolydeux. Anna has served as a judge and on the technical jury of IGF, as a judge for Girls Make Games, is a member of the Global Game Jam theme committee, and regularly appears in the Broken Age, Amnesia Fortnight, and other documentaries by 2 Player Productions as part of her work at Double Fine, in an effort to demystify the process of game development.
Lee Machen, Intel
Lee Machen is Intel’s General Manager for gaming, VR and AR sales, responsible for worldwide sales strategy and revenue. He also has a key role leading Intel’s diversity efforts as they relate to games. Previously he was Director of Developer Relations for games and media.
Ben Prunty is the self-taught musician who wrote and produced the music and sound for FTL: Faster Than Light. He used to work at Google where he diagnosed computer hardware problems and ripped apart machines for fun. He once beat God Hand, and now as a result can only solve problems with punching. He is currently punching music into shape for Gravity Ghost, Scale, a Robot Invader game, and a couple of super-secret projects.
Kellee Santiago, Google
Kellee Santiago, as former president and co-founder of thatgamecompany, has developed one of the most prominent brands in independent and innovative game development, pushing the communicative possibilities of video games as a medium. She is currently a partner in Indie Fund, which aims to support the growth of games as a medium by helping indie developers get, and stay, financially independent. She is currently a Sr. Producer of Games & Apps for virtual and augmented realities at Google.
Kellee speaks around the world at video game business and entertainment conferences on innovation in games, entrepreneurship, games as art and better methods for video game development. In 2010, she became a TED Fellow and was recognized as one of The Ten Most Influential Women in Games of the Past Decade. Kellee has also received the 2011 Microsoft Top Women in Gaming award for Business.
Lauren Scott, Hangar 13
Lauren is a junior systems designer at Hangar 13, a 2K Games studio, living in San Francisco and working in Novato. She is also a graduate of the Computer Science and Business Management Economics undergrad programs at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was heavily involved with the Game Design program at UCSC through research and her involvement with the Expressive Intelligence Studio (EIS) and the Design and Verification Lab within the Game Design department.
To date, she has worked on many amazing projects, most recently Mafia III, for which she scripted and designed a multitude of systems, primarily the game’s economy and features involving systemic dialogue. Past projects include IGF and IndieCade finalist Prom Week, multi-million-dollar DARPA-funded project Xylem, and many research and student games. She also has her fair share of personal and experimental projects. She loves to write, and keep that skill sharp by occasionally writing for gaming websites such as The Border House.
Marcus Smith, Insomniac
Marcus Smith has been working in the video games industry for over twenty years. Wait, can that be right. No… that seems too long. I mean, he’s old, but he’s not THAT old. Is he?
Along the way, he’s been extremely lucky, having checked-off several of his career “bucket list” items: created an original IP from scratch (Creative Director on Sunset Overdrive), helped to develop a launch title (Project Manager on Resistance: Fall of Man for PS3 launch), worked on a million-unit-selling-game (several!), worked in new technologies (lead a small team to create an Oculus-published VR brawler, Feral Rites), and has kept himself surrounded by inspiring people who make work seem fun (he’s worked at Insomniac Games for over 12 years. They can’t rid of him!).
It’s been a long run. Mistakes were made.
Greg Street, Riot Games
Greg Street is the Design Director for League of Legends at Riot Games, a position he has held for about three years. Before that, he was Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft for six years. Before that, he was a lead designer at Ensemble Studios / Microsoft working on the Age of Empires franchise. Before that, he was an oceanographer before he threw caution to the wind and made the career shift to game design. Greg enjoys interacting with players and developers on social media, where he goes by the name Ghostcrawler.
My N. Tran, ADVR
My N. Tran is a world-renowned, award-winning free-to-play game designer and product executive. As a monetization game designer, she has had three games in the top-100 mobile grossing charts. Currently Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ADVR, Gamesauce has called My “the Maestro of Monetization” and she is one of Fast Company’s “Designing Women.”
Brandon Byrne, Opera Event
Brandon Byrne is the CEO for the startup Opera Event, a platform for social media influencers. Opera Event is a technological solution for influencer to monetize and engage their audiences directly.
Before Opera Event, Brandon was the CFO for Team Liquid and helped them raise money through the investment group that included Magic Johnson, Ted Leonsis and Peter Guber.
He also served as an executive at Curse, a PC technology and media company that was recently bought by Twitch.tv. He led several rounds of fundraising at Curse and transitioned the organization from a small startup into a fast-growing company that doubled the size of the staff in eight months. He led the initiative to open international offices in Dublin, the U.K., Germany and Australia and secured several debt facilities for Curse to fund their growth.
An avid gamer, Brandon still plays World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Civilization, Xcom, Ark and Diablo III. He has also served as an advisor on the UCSC board for three years now.
Brandon has a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University in Business Management.