SIEGE 2017 Speakers
Keynote Speaker Jesse Schell
Schell began his career at Walt Disney Imagineering, working on theme parks, video games and massively multiplayer games. He started Schell Games in 2002, and his studio now employees more than 100 people working on a diverse array of titles. Their clients range from Facebook to Legendary to Yale University, all attracted by their versatility and willingness to innovate.
Keynote Speaker Gersh Payzer
Gersh was one of the first engineers on the Xbox One. He has also worked on Xbox 360, Kinect, [email protected]
, Twitch, Halo and XNA. He started in the games industry as an independent developer and is an IGF award winner. He currently works on Mixer, the first livestreaming platform to support near real-time interactivity.
Jesse James Allen
Jesse James Allen is the Editorial Director at Falcon’s Creative Group; a theme park and interactive design studio based in Orlando Florida. His recent projects include National Geographic’s “Ocean Odyssey” in Times Square and the “Heroes & Legends” museum at Kennedy Space Center. Jesse was also the former studio audio director/lead sound designer on 51 video games from Electronic Arts, that sold over 97.6 Million copies worldwide, including hit franchises such as Madden, Tiger Woods, Need for Speed, Warhammer, and NBA Live. Jesse has always been a strong advocate for education by sharing his insight and methodologies learned from years of AAA game development.
Dan Baker has over a decade of experience in the game industry. Dan started his career at Microsoft, where he helped design the D3D9 standard while working as a key member of the original High Level Shading Language Team. Dan led the technical development of HLSL for D3D10, which is now an industry standard. While at Firaxis, Dan developed technology to bring Civilization V to market with the world’s first threaded D3D11 engine. Dan is an active member of the GAB (Graphics Advisory Board), has multiple industry-known publications, and has spoken and lectured at conferences such as SIGGRAPH, AFDS, GDC, and I3D.
Chris Bivins is one of the rising artistic talents in the entertainment industry. Starting in the video slot machine gaming field, Chris has created characters and animations for more than 50 plus titles, such as “So Hot,” “Dragon Slayer” and “Fire Wolf.” Over the last 10 years, he has branched out into the commercial and film industry, providing storyboard and design work for some of the industry’s leading directors. Some of his clients include: Pete Circuitt, (CBS “Yes Virginia,” Sweet Shop/New Zealand), James Gunn, (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Greg McLean, (“The Belko Experiment”). In 2007, Bivins received a BFA in Media Arts and Animation from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Bivins’ future is limitless, with his goal of establishing his own animation boutique that will create intellectual properties to be seen and admired on a global scale. His vision is to break the mold by blending western narrative styles with Japanese animation to create a unique way of storytelling. Bivins strives to mix different influences, to appeal to audiences of all colors and ethnicities.
Andrew Borgognioni is a Georgia native who’s passionate about music, sports, technology, the outdoors and everything in between. The psychology behind people, who we are, why we act the way we do while we’re alone and in groups has always fascinated Andrew. That’s why he enjoys meeting new people and learning their story, where they come from and where they want to go. Andrew has worked in the Energy Sector, Technology and now HR and understands how a business operates, the day to day struggles a business owner faces, as well as what drives growth. He currently works for TriNet, a leading provider of bundled HR solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. Our “HR-as-a-service” model and associated technology allow business owners to off-load day-to-day and strategic HR tasks while allowing them to focus on growing and scaling their business! (See Andrew at the Expert’s Table.)
John Bridges is a concept and storyboard artist currently working at High-Rez on SMITE. Previously he was at Xaviant, where he worked on Lichdom. He is most known for his work at CCP Games developing the World of Darkness MMO. John’s other past clients include Chaosium, FASA Corp, Wizards of the Coast, Marvel Comics, Cadillac Jack, and various advertising agencies. In 1995, he joined Holistic Design as Art Director of the Fading Suns line of game products, which included
pen-and-paper roleplaying game books, miniatures, and an epic raiding-and-trading PC game of starship action. John is also part of the leadership team of the Mythic Imagination Institute in Atlanta GA, a non-profit devoted to encouraging wisdom and imagination through the understanding of myth and metaphor in modern myth.
Maria Cahill is President and Founder of USF Bank Consulting, a highly-specialized firm focusing on bank strategy. Throughout Ms. Cahill’s 25+ year career, she has held multiple Sr. Executive Leadership positions in key bank and financial organizations. Known as a “hands-on” executive, she has extensive expertise in Strategy Integration, Corporate Realignment, Sales Management, Technology, Risk Management, Operations, Governance, and Complex Compensation Design. She also advises clients, c-suite executives and corporate boards in driving growth, performance and productivity through crossdivisional integration and metrics. Ms. Cahill’s results have established her as one of the industry’s foremost experts in the banking industry.
Joe Cassavaugh is the CEO/Designer/Engineer of Puzzles By Joe and the creator of the successful Clutter franchise. Joe is having his best year ever with the Clutter series which has easily surpassed $2 million in sales. Currently Joe’s 7th game in his franchise, “Clutter Infinity: Joe’s Ultimate Quest”, is in the top 10 at Big Fish Games. Joe plans to conquer the world next with a storyless/textless version of Clutter. Developing it in Unity, the next Clutter will run on Tablets, iPads, Mobile Phones as well as PCs & Macs. This is the version of Clutter that will be able to go everywhere. Joe is arguably the most successful semi-solo indie in Atlanta (since moving here in 2010) but says he often feels like the Rodney Dangerfield of GGDA because his games are for a Casual Audience and doesn’t cater to the hard-core
FPS, MMO, RPG - Steam crowd. Like Rodney, he’ll tell you he gets no respect. Pop in to the 3rd annual Indie Rants and he’ll tell you more.
Bob Carter is a professional Voice Actor known for voicing Balrog in the Street Fighter series, Shao Kahn & Baraka in Mortal Kombat, Odin in Smite, the Astronaut in Lifeless Planet, the Iron Guard in Destiny 2, and many other popular heroes and villains. Carter has also voiced many popular animation and anime projects such as Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry, Dragonball Z, Full Metal Alchemist, Samurai 7, Blassreiter, and many other cartoon series & video games. He just recently opened a production & coaching studio, the Neighborhood Studio, where he and several other top tier coaches and talents help aspiring Creatives become working Creatives.
Matt Canei is a game developer based out of Atlanta. He has spent the last 7 years as a Senior 3D Artist and Technical Artist at Hi-Rez Studios working on titles such as Smite, Paladins and Tribes: Ascend. For the past 9 years, he has served as creative/art director for indie project Hanako: Honor & Blade. Matt enjoys Wing Chun training, concerts, great spicy food and helping the gaming community grow and learn new techniques.
Stephanie Chergi works at GamesThatWork as content manager and producer. Her experience has been broad, including game design, workflow development, production management, modeling, animation and motion capture technology. She has recruited, trained, and supervised game development staff, as well as led numerous formative, summative, and discovery research projects, using customer discovery interviews, online survey techniques, think out loud methods,
as well as traditional random controlled, IRB-monitored trials.
David Consolo is currently a Technical Manager at Falcon`s Treehouse. He started first getting his hands dirty in the themed entertainment business as a Custodian at Disney. Since then, his roles have changed multiple times from being a film DIT, to editing short films and animatics, In 2013, he switched over to working on motion graphics projects in theme parks such as Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, IMG Worlds Of Adventure, Kennedy Space Center, and Motiongate Dubai with Falcon’s Treehouse. He`s recently entered the world of interactive experiences, and now programs VR, AR, Kiosk, and ride system experiences, while also diving into experimental AR headset hardware developments.
Scarlet Dangerfield is the talent director for Hi-Rez Studios, where she fulfills the company’ staffing and human development needs. Prior to Hi-Rez she worked with Xaviant and CCP. She brings to Hi-Rez 11 years of progressive global human resource and recruiting experience, with a passion for the games industry.
Orion Cherry began his career as a level designer at Ignition Florida and has since shifted focus to overall game design, art and production. In 2009 Orion began the content development department for Pulseworks that would produce rides, interactive games, and VR content for full motion simulators (both interactive and passive). Pulseworks runs ticketed motion experiences around the country at locations such as Broadway At The Beach, Museum of Science and Industry and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Robin Cowie is a creative leader, producer, director, storyteller, and writer working in multiple media formats. Robin helped launch Nickelodeon Orlando, The Golf Channel, Disney At Home, and was the Creative Director for the launch of the $400 million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. He was president of Haxan Films, which financed, produced and helped market one of the most successful independent films of all time, The Blair Witch Project. He has produced nine feature films and two television series. Robin created hundreds of television commercials, corporate and brand identity pieces, web shorts, documentaries, and 4 computer games. In 2015, he directed and produced Howl-O-Scream 2015 UNEARTHED in 3 of the theme parks operated by Busch Gardens. Most recently Robin joined Electronic Arts and produced the story mode Longshot for Madden 18.
Kathryn De Shields
Kathryn De Shields joined the GameSkinny team as social media manager before moving over to Communications Manager for all LMN properties. She has a BA in Journalism from Hampton University, and an MFA in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently, Kathryn handles social media, content marketing, press releases, and anything wordsmith related. Before GameSkinny, she held several marketing and PR roles for nonprofits, publicly traded companies, and small business, and worked as a news reporter for several years. Kathryn is also a freelance writer for Buzzfeed, Build Your Own Brand Society, and JAC Magazine. GameSkinny was founded to create an easy-to use platform where gaming enthusiasts could write and read about the games they love. GameSkinny has more than 3.3 million monthly uniques and 7,000 registered writers. With around the clock coverage, a full editorial team and a 9-week games journalist training program, the skills GameSkinny writers acquire allow participants to turn their love of gaming into careers as writing/marketing/communications professionals.
Larry Elmore has been creating fantasy and science fiction art for over 40 years. He was initially contacted by TSR Inc., producer of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, in 1981. He worked with them until 1987 helping to set the standards of game art. He created covers for Dungeons & Dragons, AD&D, Star Frontiers and others including SnarfQuest Tales for the company’s Dragon Magazine. Larry is best known for his work with the world of Dragonlance. Since 1987, he has been working as a freelance illustrator, creating covers for comics, computer games, magazines, fantasy and science fiction books and many other projects. He is also the co-author of Runes of Autumn and creator of the Sovereign Stone series.His game art includes freelance work for TSR, Inc, FASA, Mayfair Games, Game Designer’s Workshop, White Wolf, Iron Crown Enterprises, Dragon Magazine, Amazing Magazine, Wizard Press, D. C. Comics, First Comics, Eclipse Comics and Frank Frazetta’s Fantasy Illustrated. Additional works include LJN Toys, Mattel, Lucas Films, Tonka, Monogram Models, Western Publishing, Sony Entertainment’s EverQuest, and various computer game covers.
Zane Everett is an industry veteran creating educational video games at Cogent Education for the past 6 years. In that time, I have created several AI, physics, UI, and tool systems for 16 short games and extensions to Unity. I’ve also toyed around with GPU programming.
Matt Franklin After working in public access television through high school, Matt earned degrees in Theater and Game Design, joined CCP Games, then formed Most Uniquest Productions with wife and partner Pauline Lu. Most Uniquest is a multimedia production company developing website videos, conference recordings, livestream sessions, animation work, and video recording / technology training. Matt has volunteered for events like ACM SIGGRAPH and DragonCon for years, and currently leads video production for the GGDA and SIEGE Con. Matt will be running around during SIEGE, busy overseeing the recording and livestreaming of all sessions. If you woud like to speak with Matt, send him an email a couple of weeks after SIEGE :).
Ian Fisch is the co-owner and lead developer of EQGames. We make Road Redemption, publish about 50 other titles, and have recently partnered with Gamblit and Pace-O-Matic to bring sophisticated (hardcore) games to Las Vegas casinos and Class II gaming establishments.
Morgan Godat is the Executive Producer of CCP Atlanta, Morgan works* to bring new VR experiences to life. In his previous position, VP of Art, he worked across all of CCP’s global studios to build production pipelines, develop new concepts, and provide global leadership on CCP’s Executive Board. Prior to joining CCP in 2009, he was an Art Director at EA/Maxis working on the Sims franchise for seven years and has been working in the games industry since 1998. *General production of executive stuff including and mostly limited to; reading emails, writing emails, shouting about stuff, breaking the build from time-to-time and trying to blame the engineers, restocking the fridge, and looking grumpy.
Andrew Greenberg, executive director of the Georgia Game Developers Association, lead developer on the upcoming Fading Suns: Noble Armada mobile and tablet game. Andrew co-created the “Fading Suns” roleplaying and computer games and was the original developer of White Wolf’s “Vampire: The Masquerade.” He has credits on more than 50 White Wolf products and more than 20 HDI books. His computer game credits include Dracula Unleashed, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Emperor of the Fading Suns, Warhammer 40K: Final Liberation, Merchant Prince II, Mall Tycoon, Global Agenda and more. A fellow with the Mythic Imagination Institute, Andrew serves on the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Commission.
Deborah Gonzalez, Esq.
Deborah Gonzalez, Esq. is an attorney whose legal practice focuses on art, music, entertainment, digital, and social and online law. She obtained her JD from New York Law School and is licensed to practice in both New York and Georgia. Clients include game and app developers, animators, filmmakers, musicians and music
professionals, authors, and various other creative professionals. Deborah was a past-President of the Georgia Music Industry Association and a former board member of Women in Film & Television Atlanta. She is also a member of the Georgia Production Partnership, Women in Animation, and the Entertainment Law section of the GA State Bar Association. Deborah’s pro bono activities include a music law clinic and workshops for visual artists through Art is King. She speaks at various industry conferences around the US, such as AFS, BLFF, and SIAF, on legal issues and concerns for creatives of all genres. She is author of an upcoming book for entertainment attorneys.
Ariel Gross is a producer and audio director for games. Ariel started as a composer and sound designer for casual games. He eventually found his way to AAA game development, working on the Saints Row and Red Faction franchises at Volition. He then joined BioWare, overseeing Audio, Voice Over, and Localization at
the Austin studio for many cherished franchises, including Star Wars, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. He is currently at QC Games working on an unannounced, new IP. In his spare time, he founded the Audio Mentoring Project, which arranges and facilitates one-on-one mentorships for both aspiring and established game audio professionals.
Jennifer Hartshorn is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University, majoring in English but focusing on the use of games to teach writing and research skills. Prior to her academic career, Jennifer worked in corporate communications and tabletop RPG design, including work with White Wolf, FASA, and Holistic Design. Her design credits include Wraith: The Oblivion and Vampire: The Dark Ages.
Curtis Hartung has been a game programmer most of his life. He has worked on high profile titles such as Everquest, Eve Online, and Killing Floor 2, as well as, numerous smaller titles (and studios) over the years. He is now venturing into VR with Killing Floor: Incursion, having now spent almost two years inventing and re-learning.
Rob Hassett, Esq.
Rob Hassett, Esq. is a lawyer with Business Law Partners/Hassett Law Group in Atlanta. Rob’s firm helps creative entrepreneurs start, grow and protect their businesses. Rob previously co-authored the volume on interactive media and Internet law of the leading treatise on drafting contracts for the entertainment industry. He has taught many classes in the professional education program at Georgia Tech. He is the General Counsel for the GGDA and was a co-Founder and is co-chair of the SIEGE Investment Conference. Rob is currently working with Andrew Greenberg and Felicia Voloschin, on a soon-to-be released book about all of the various entertainment related tax credits now available in Georgia. (See Rob at the Expert’s Table.)
Peter Heinrich is a Developer Evangelist with Amazon focused on mobile development best practices, including game design, coding, marketing, and monetization. Before Amazon, Peter created desktop and console games for fifteen years before moving to online and mobile. He co-founded indie studios Smarterville and Zero Entertainment after working as an individual contributor for several large game developers.
Pat Henry is the president of Dragon Con, Inc., the company behind the internationally known pop culture convention that has made Labor Day weekend Atlanta’s favorite holiday.
Pat and partners co-founded Dragon Con in 1986 with the idea of building a science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention that offered something for every interest. Groundbreaking in its time, most pop culture conventions today have embraced the multi-genre format that Dragon Con created. Under his leadership, Dragon Con has become one of the largest pop culture conventions in the nation, based on attendance. This year the convention expanded to five days and attracted over 80,000 unique individuals (over 300,000 turnstile) for the thirty first anniversary in 2017.
Prior to and during Dragon Con Pat has been involved in the creation and management of several comic conventions, multi-media conventions, Magic the Gathering Cons, and gaming conventions, including hosting ORIGINS (the international consumer show for GAMA) in 1990. Pat was the first retail committee chair for the Game Manufactures Association (GAMA) and has spoken many times in that capacity.
He has spoken many times over the last three decades on organizing, marketing and value of comic and game conventions. Some of the places include, Georgia State University, the GAMA Retailers Conference, ORIGINS conventions, the Southeastern Trade a Retailers Symposium in Atlanta, Project Anime: Atlanta, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
A self-described geek, Pat enjoys reading science fiction, working in his vegetable garden, and rooting for the Atlanta Hawks. Born and raised in Buckhead, Pat is an Atlanta native. He graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Business Administration. He currently lives in Sparta, Georgia, with his wife of 45 years, Sherry.
Pat is also the founder of Titan Games and Comics, which he started in 1983 with a single store in Riverdale. At its height, Titan grew into a chain of seven stores, including six locations throughout the metro Atlanta area and one in San Diego, California.
Brandon J. Huffman (@brandonjhuffman) is an attorney with Odin Law and Media. His practice focuses on counseling interactive media and corporate clients on issues related to business formation, cyberspace law, intellectual property and corporate growth. His clients include new and traditional media companies,
game and software developers and others at the intersection of technology and creativity. Brandon serves as general counsel to the International Game Developers Association and sits on the Sports and Entertainment Council of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Blane Humphries has an established background in video games, journalism, and professional communications. He began his gaming adventures in the mid ’90s with Westwood’s Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. Since then, his gaming tastes have ranged from Triple-A to the most obscure indies on the planet. After graduating with honors from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Public Relations, as a PR professional. He is now an Account Manager at Novy Unlimited where he oversees the execution of client campaigns and day-today operations.
Zachariah Inks holds undergraduate degrees in Computer Animation, and Game Programming and Development. He also obtained a MFA in Digital Production Arts from Clemson University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Centered Computing with a focus on Virtual Humans in Virtual Reality at Clemson. Zachariah has worked as a developer for games and training simulations. Currently he is a Game and Simulation Development Instructor at Blue Ridge Community College, a Computer Science Lab Instructor at Clemson University, and a Unity Developer for CCIT Visualization Group at Clemson University.
Dov Jacobson is a pioneer in the field of game based learning. In 2001, he exploited success as the Studio Head of Turner Interactive to launch GamesThatWork. The studio develops digital games that help players acquire knowledge, develop skills and, most importantly, adopt new behaviors – in domains as diverse as Intelligence Analysis, Civic Leadership, Close Air Support, Market Segmentation and Toothbrushing. Jacobson writes and speaks at numerous conferences: GameTech, mHealth, I/ITSEC, Training, SALT, Online Learning, & SIEGE. This is his sixth talk about game design at SIEGE. Previous topics include the Art of the Videogame, Biomimetic Crowdsourcing, Song as a Learning Vector, Constructive Failure and Hands-On Learning.
Jesse Jacobson is the Technical Director of GamesThatWork. His first published game appeared in stores like CompUSA. If it were a person, that game would be of legal drinking age. He’s probably too proud of the fact there are still Reddit discussions about the mechanics. He was later technical lead on the first ever Flash game, which lead to a book deal (Flash and XML: A Developer’s Guide, now available in four languages). For the past fifteen years he has been devoted to serious games - those that teach a new skill or behavior in the real world. For example, one of his games was used to train tens of thousands of officers deploying to Iraq. Since then he has taught CIA Analysts to make better decisions, M.B.A. students how to divy up more of our money, and children to brush their teeth. Brush Up was selected as the 2016 App of the Year by the Institute of Medicine. (See Jesse at the Portfolio Review.)
Stephen Johnston, Jr.
Stephen Johnston, Jr. has been involved in internet development for more than 20 years and ardently believes that the best days of human connectivity are ahead of us. Prior to Launch Media Network, Stephen brought some of the first e-commerce sites online in the mid-90s and was instrumental in the nationwide content
management system for Cox Communications and early IP telephony e-commerce efforts. Stephen built Sig Launch in 2007, the massively successful Signature/Avatar creator for video gamers with tens of millions created and his Unfavinator.com app is the most popular tool for deleting favorites on Twitter and has been featured on Product Hunt and Lifehacker, among other places. In 2013, he formed Launch Media Network, building on the massively popular Guild Launch (rebranded as Gamer Launch) product he founded and managed since 2006. At Launch Media Network, Stephen has been the leader in ensuring LMN products are ready to scale and managed the growth of two products “Gamer Launch and GameSkinny” from launch to nearly 5 million registered users and to more than 2 million unique monthly visitors.
Abby Joslin is an Atlanta business coach who specializes in creative and tech startups in their first few years of business. She helps to organize and run SIEGE, has run the SIEGE business track for several years, and is the former Atlanta chapter president for the Georgia Game Developers Association. She offers business strategy services as well as skills coaching in pricing, business promotion through events, and negotiation theory and practice. She has an MBA from Georgia State University and gets weirdly enthusiastic when talking about business. (See Abby at the Expert’s Table.)
Leigh Ann Kinnison
Leigh Ann Kinnison fell in love with games after discovering King’s Quest 3 in 1988. Ever since, she has been tinkering with creating her own worlds with their own rules. She has worked at Cartoon Network as a game artist, a technical artist, and a game producer. She is currently a game producer at Ideas United as part of Infinite Deviation: Games. When she’s not at her computer, she can be found working on converting a 1988 school bus into a tiny house for her next big adventure - a rolling indie game studio.(See Leigh Ann at the Indie Rants.)
Kartik Kini is the founder of Finite Reflection Studios, where he is leading development on the studios first game: TwinCop. He has been working with Unity for 4 years, and has made over 10 student games with it, not counting the multitude of prototypes he’s made in his spare time. He is in his last semester at Georgia Tech, where he is studying Computational Media with a focus on Game Design. He hopes to one day teach game design in some capacity, and enjoys debating modern design trends in games and providing support to other indie game studios.
Tim Kipp has been a technology leader at game companies for more than 16 years, and has shipped over 15 titles. With his comprehensive understanding of the production process, Tim has now built 4 custom 3D procedural engines, advancing product lines and providing unique technology for customers such as Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and Firaxis Games. His architecture and design has been key for maximizing performance and pushing the boundaries of multi-core capability, which allow for a truly componentized technology base.
Allyssa A. Lewis, Animator, Recruiter and Consultant. Although born in Brooklyn, New York, Alyssa has spent the last two decades expanding her creative reach in Atlanta, Georgia, where she uses her BFA in animation from SCAD - Atlanta toward experimental animation and mixed media illustration. Most noted for her animation on over 75 episodes and promos of FX’s Emmy nominated series “Archer”, she has also produced content for NBC’s “30 Rock”, i am OTHER, Animation Domination, ComicCon San Diego, and Captain Planet’s Planeteer Movement. As the CEO and Founder of the animation resource and staffing agency, My Animation Life (MAL), she primarily focuses on the career placement and portfolio enhancement of artist within animation-related industries. Creating Georgia’s most inclusive animation map and calendar are just a couple of the popular assets MAL provides to strengthen Georgia’s animation industry. Lewis also is the Animation Director of re:imagine/ATL where she develops media projects with diverse teams to expand the boundaries of creation and encourage industry equality, and sits on the Advisory Board of ASIFA South, one of the largest animation societies in the southeastern United States.
Eric Lorenz began working as a Sound Designer at Atlanta-based sound company, Wabi Sabi Sound in 2015. There, he specializes in long confusing looks at his computer, trying to figure out why that one specific sound isn’t playing, daydreaming about advanced audio systems that he might or might not use in a game, and the occasional cinematic explosion or weird guttural creature noises. He has worked on titles like “The Witness”, “Destiny 2”, “Horizon Zero Dawn”, CCP’s VR title “Sparc”, and a new upcoming title “S.O.S” from Outpost Games. This is his first year at SIEGE and is excited to meet and connect with all the people involved
with the rapidly growing video game industry here in Atlanta.
Sarah Masagee is currently working at Tripwire Interactive. She started her career at Trick 3D working as a UX designer/ character rigger. She has been studying UX for years. Sarah has worked on: Ears the Astronaut, Killing Floor 2, Killing Floor: Incursion, and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. In her spare time, she likes to play with cats, hike, yoga, and play with cats. In 25 years, she hopes to become a Crazy Cat Lady.
TJ Mihill is is an attorney who’s practice encompasses a wide range of complex business disputes, with an emphasis on intellectual property. Mr. Mihill has represented individuals and corporations in both bringing and defending against trademark and copyright infringement claims, trade secret violations, and cybersquatting actions. In the area of video games and virtual worlds, Mr. Mihill has counseled and represented game developers and publishers in
intellectual property and business matters. Mr. Mihill has tried cases and represented clients at the state and federal level, in Georgia and nationwide. Mr. Mihill is a member of the IGDA and GGDA, as well as the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia, the Atlanta Bar Association, and the Cobb County Bar Association. (See TJ at the Expert’s Table.)
Michelle Menard is an award-wining game designer, consultant, and published author (Game Development with Unity). She has previously worked in both the mobile and AAA market, and as a consultant under Artemic Games, LLC, partnering with other companies to provide core system design, itemization, auditing,
and documentation. Once she was invited to the White House to blabber about game design and crowd-sourcing for big data. She is currently the lead designer at Oxide Games, and is also a cofounder of Fishwizard Games, a small boardgame company exploring strategy games set in the Gateway universe. Gateway: Uprising, their first title, is due out in stores this September. Michelle also serves as an adjunct professor at UMBC and SCAD, teaching game design, theory, and game history, and has taught intro C# game development courses for the Baltimore non-profit Code in the Schools. She holds a double BA in Applied Mathematics and Music Theory from Brown University, and an MFA in Game and Interactive Design from SCAD.
Brian Miller is the founder of ZapMil LLC, an educational software and game development company designed with the focus on experiential learning. His passion for digital gaming began with dedicated hours devoted to Atari gameplay. Today, he has directed that passion through the physics and artificial intelligence behind today’s digital gaming industry while helping to develop the next generation of game developers. He earned his Applied Computer Science degree in Game Development from Gwinnett Technical College.
Marcus Montgomery serves as Lead Game Designer at Limbic Software, has over 18 years of game design experience (Rise To Honor / Dance Central 3 / Zombie Gunship Survival). In his free time, Marcus works with several organizations focused on improving the presence of women and people of color in the video game
industry including Gameheads Oakland and Black Girls Code. The aphorism, “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.” inspired Marcus to create WeAreGameDevs.com, a website dedicated to interviewing and promoting diverse video game developers from all over the industry. Providing the next generation of game developers role models to emulate is one of our most critical tasks when it comes to creating a balanced industry that supports and celebrates all voices.
Jonathan Moore joined GameSkinny in November 2016 as an associate editor before moving into his current role as senior editor and head of video development. He holds a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Journalism from Georgia Southern University, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. Before joining GameSkinny, Jonathan worked as a copy editor and paginator at the Marietta Daily Journal and a marketing manager at MFG.com. He has also worked as a freelance writer for Awesomeoutof10 and Earbuddy, a social media manager, and a marketing consultant for various clients in the manufacturing sector., Jonathan has also edited several chapbooks and short story collections while also contributing to several indie video game projects as writer and creative lead.
Lee Morin, Attorney, is principal of MORIN Entertainment Law. She is a member of the GGDA and represents indie developers, sound designers, and composers. She is the legal blogger for The Needy Animator where she writes about copyright for the freelance artist and animation workers antitrust litigation. Lee specializes in art & entertainment, intellectual property, and nonprofits. Her practice focuses on contract drafting, review, and negotiation. Her business practice advises clients how to establish and manage a business, retain talent, protect ideas, creations, & brands, effectively collaborate with others, meet growth objectives, and set exit strategies. Her intellectual property practice provides clients with access to national and international copyright and trademark advisement, prosecution, and enforcement, and trade secret counseling. Lee’s nonprofit practice guides organizations through the process of achieving and maintaining state permits and federal tax-exempt status. She is a member of the Entertainment & Sports, Intellectual Property, and International Law sections of the Georgia Bar and several arts & entertainment trade associations. For more information, please visit her at morinentlaw.com (See Lee at the Expert’s Table.)
Garrett Nantz is Creative Director and Founder of Luxurious Animals, a creative digital agency specializing in developing original content creation for brands such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, Adobe, Esquire, Caprisun, My Little Pony, AXE, and Dolby. Projects span online adver-games, 360° videos, immersive interactive experiences, and gesture-based installations. The Animals’ work has won a couple Cannes Lions, FWA, Awwwards, and Addys. Garret Nantz has been a speaker at several Flash Forwards, SxSW, and ADC/GDC.
Auverin Morrow has been with GameSkinny for three years, and worked as a part-time editor while she earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in May of 2016, then joined the GS team full time as the Commissioning Editor and Journalist Training Program Coordinator. In addition to designing GameSkinny’s nine-week intensive course in digital games journalism, she’s also created the mentor program to further instruct advanced writers, hosted writing workshops via livestream, created a smaller 30-day journalism course for aspiring/inexperienced writers, and co-authored GameSkinny’s eBook on games journalism. As far as specialities go, Auvering is an expert in long-form content - especially argumentative and review writing. But in a broader sense, her genres of expertise are RPGs, MOBAs, and the insane world of eSports.
Kim Nguyen is an animator who has worked on NBA Live and Smite. She is currently working on the upcoming Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
(See Kim at the Indie Rants.)
Mike Phillips, the Art Director at Oxide Games, is a 17-year veteran of the games industry with a background in traditional animation and concept design and has helped develop art for numerous titles including most notably: Elder Scrolls Online, ESO Morrowind, Command and Conquer: Kane’s Wrath, Battle for Middle Earth: Rise of the Witch King, Civilizations III: Conquests and Emperor- Rise of the Middle Kingdom. Mike has years of experience concepting, art directing and motivating large, multi-discipline teams of creative individuals to deliver quality products.
Burton Posey is a game developer and founder of Atlanta-based Action Figure Games, a studio currently focused on creating a new game property with virtual reality. Through his studio, Burton does consulting and contract project work for a variety of entertainment, interactive, and gaming companies. Before starting Action Figure Games, Burton worked at Hi-Rez Studios and founded the studio Addo Games where he created the Robots Love Ice Cream property. Burton drinks way too much coffee, tries to appreciate each day more than the last, and loves that life never stops teaching him new things.
Matt Piersall is an audio director and sound designer based in Austin Texas. His most recent deployment was acting as audio director and principal sound designer for Bethesda’s Prey. His career has spanned 15 years and he’s worked on almost every type of title (except for sports!). He recently spoke at the game developers conference in San Francisco and he’s actively involved in the world of game audio in Austin. In his spare time Matt pretends to be a cheetah with his four-year-old daughter, cause she’s really into cheetahs right now.
Chris Rickwood is best known for creating dramatic musical scores for video games. His past work ranges from catchy melodies underscoring fights with cartoon evil geniuses to massive soundscapes suitable for building and destroying empires. Blending the traditional with the modern, Rickwood’s musical style is often a marriage of current musical genres with traditional instrumentation and orchestration. Hip hop for hammered dulcimer and djembe or heavy metal for full orchestra are the norm. Credits include Paladins, Smite, Rising Storm, Orcs Must Die, Age of Empires Online, Madden NFL 12, Global Agenda, and Tribes: Ascend.
Simon Rakestraw is a graduate of Full Sail University and a game industry veteran. After working at Rainbow studios on Mx vs ATV Untamed and Mx vs ATV Reflex he made the jump to casino games. Since starting at Cadillac Jack and AGS more than nine years ago he as worked on dozens of games in an evolving field.
As the Business Development Associate for Games Scribes (a localization & testing company), Tobe Sexton has the privilege of witnessing the next evolutionary advances in entertainment technology. During his tenure he has solved hundreds of localization challenges. By utilizing his unique experience, he helps companies find solutions so they may extend their global reach. His client list crosses all platforms and includes: 505 Games, Atari, Capcom, FaceWare, GameStop, Gravity, Insomniac, inXile, MobilityWare, NIS America, Nickelodeon, Pokémon International, SGN, Survios, Stardock, and Storm8.
Ian Schreiber started working in the game industry in the year 2000, first as a gameplay programmer and then quickly transitioning to systems designer and eventually university professor. He has co-authored two books on game design, has produced a free online course on game design (gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com) and another on game balance (gamebalanceconcepts.wordpress.com), and is a co-founder of Global Game Jam, the largest game creation event in the world. He currently teaches game design and development at the graduate and undergraduate levels at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Suresh K. Sharma
Suresh K. Sharma is an internationally acknowledged speaker and a clear thought-leader. A former GE executive, Suresh exemplifies business leadership, technology insights, and innovative entrepreneurial experiences. He is widely published and cited not only for his peer-reviewed technology papers but also for his internationally acclaimed books on global innovation, entrepreneurship and future of emerging industries - “The 3rd American Dream” (2014), and “Global
Outsourcing” (2005) – based on his own experiences of setting up manufacturing, sourcing and BPO facilities in over 18 countries.
James Simpson has been dreaming of creating games since his first glimpse of an Atari 400. He earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University and B.F.A. in Game Art and Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta. James earned the nickname “Doctor Unity” for his mastery of the Unity 3D game
engine. He is an instructor in Unity and game development at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Titles that James has worked on include: Wasteland 2, Elf on the Shelf Snowball Fight, SnarfQuest Tales, AutoTrader InnerStruggle Multiplayer, Larry Elmore Series 1, Invasion: The Last Stand, United States Air Force Academy Virtual World, Dark Orbit, NASA Gas Flow Simulator, Chubby Pixie, Dungeon Crawlers, Giving Back App, Wounded Warriors App, Bobbers World MMO, Ima Iguana Treasure Hunter, Prizewagon Casino: The Boardwalk.Benny StaRomana
Benny StaRomana is a consultant with the Small Business Development Center at the University of Georgia. He provides coaching and guidance to small- and medium-sized businesses in all stages of the business life cycle, from start-up to exit. His areas of specialization are strategic planning, business process improvement, and marketing & sales. Prior to joining UGA-SBDC, Mr. StaRomana founded and operated a management consulting company that was awarded the grand prize of Gwinnett County’s 2011 Amazing Entrepreneur competition. Mr. StaRomana offers clients his management and professional experience from more than 20 years working with Global 100 companies. (See Benny at the Expert’s Table.)
Marcus Strickland has been one of SIEGE’s most dedicated volunteers, helping with almost every part of the Expo over the years. Originally an animator, Marcus now works as a user experience architect. This year he is helping organize the Portfolio Review in addition to all his other tasks. Maybe next year he gets to drive the truck … (See Marcus at the Porttfolio Review.)
Mike Stumhofer worked for 15 years as a software engineer, architect and in IT management before deciding in 2015 that he wanted to work in his true passion: creating video games. Mike founded HOF Studios and released a demo for the turn-based, tactical RPG Depth of Extinction in 2016. The full game is scheduled
to release this November. Mike is an active part of the Atlanta indie scene and also organizes the local Unity user group.
Judy Suitor is the Founder and CEO of Competitive Edge, Inc., a human resources training and consulting company specializing in team building, executive coaching, and sales training. Ms. Suiter has also co-authored two chapters in the book Pleasure and the Quality of Life and has authored five books herself. Judy was presented with the first TTI Performance Systems Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2016 she was selected to receive the Bud Bowers Contributor of the Year Award from the TTI Success Insights Network of consultants. In addition, The Institute of Management Consultants has designated her as a Certified Management Consultant and only 1% of management consultants have achieved this honor Her belief that “learning is directly proportional to the amount of fun people have”keeps her in high demand as a professional speaker and trainer
Jeremy Tuck is an Executive Producer at AGS, LLC where he acts as lead cat-herder for their video slot development teams and oversees embedded testing on the side. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he is a six-year veteran of the casino industry with over a decade’s worth of project management experience in various industries, from casino gaming, to health care, video game development and beyond. In his spare time, he bicycles (road and single-track), reads extensively, blogs about whatever’s on his mind and spends whatever time is left with his family.
Sebastian Vakerics has worked as a pixel artist on various indie games over the last 4 years. His talents include traditional art and animation as well as technical/procedural art. He is currently working on Depth of Extinction for HOF Studios and his project Alchemic Cutie, the alchemy farming RPG.
Ron Williams II
Ron Williams II is a Chicago native who attended Georgia Southern University to attain a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. During his time at GSU, Ron founded the Aurora Game Development Club – an organization designed to teach students both hard and soft skills that will help prepare them to make a more seamless transition from student to professional by fostering collaborative game development projects. Ron currently resides in Atlanta, GA and serves as CEO for Aurora, and Lead Producer for AGS. In his 7+ years of game development experience, Ron has managed the development of and shipped over 50 slot games and two independent mobile titles.
Alan Wilson worked in oil, defence and finance sectors over a 30-year “serious” career, before moving to the games industry. Alan is also a military historian. This led to the “Red Orchestra” (RO) mod in 2003. When the team won the MSU contest, Alan supported the creation of Tripwire Interactive LLC along with the other key players in the original team. Alan worked on the design, budgeting and planning of the development of “Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45”, as well as focussing on raising the required funding for the company to develop the game completely independently. Red Orchestra scored in the top 10% on Metacritic for 2006 (81) and has now sold nearly 1m units on PC worldwide. Tripwire launched the hit co-op zombie shooter, Killing Floor in 2009, which went to #1 on Steam and has now sold over 3m units on PC, plus 10m units of DLC. Killing Floor 2, the follow-up, released into Steam Early Access in May 2015 was one of the Top 10 sellers for the year. Red Orchestra 2: “Heroes of Stalingrad” was launched in 2011, followed by Rising Storm in 2013. Both became PC Gamer’s “Multiplayer Game of the Year” and have sold over 2.5m units between them. Tripwire has pioneered selling games digitally, alongside traditional retail routes to market, with great success. Additionally, Tripwire has been involved with other independent developers, publishing Zeno Clash, The Ball and Dwarfs!?, as well as mentoring and advising startups.
Watson Wu is an American composer, sound designer, and field recordist. He was educated at both Miami-Dade College and Florida International University in Music Education and Composition. Since 2001 Watson has worked in the video game, film, and TV industries. Some of his credits include the Transformers game, War for Cybertron, NCAA Football 2012, Red Orchestra 2, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Need for Speed, Warhawk, Assassin’s Creed, Madden, Lexus, Dodge Ram, Baby Driver (a 2017 Edgar Wright film), and Daniel Craig’s A&E Biography. More at WatsonWu.com
MORE TO COME!