Conference Highlights

Toru Iwatani Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University

Born in Tokyo, 1955. IWATANI Toru joined Namco Ltd. in 1977 (present,Namco BandaiGames). In 1980, he created the video game Pac-Man. The game, based on the theme of eating,received high praise worldwide. In 2005, it was recognized by Guinness World Records as themost successful arcade machine. He has produced over 50 games including Pac-Land, RidgeRacer, Alpine Racer and Time Crisis. He became a professor in the Tokyo Polytechnic UniversityFaculty of Arts Department of Game in 2007.

He is also the director of the Digital Games ResearchAssociation Japan, a fellow of Namco Bandai Games, and the author of Pac-Man no GamegakuNyumon (An Introduction to Pac-Man Gaming, Enterbrain).

Shinji Mikami Executive Producer, Tango Gameworks

Shinji Mikami, best known as the father of survival horror, defined the genre with the creation of the Resident Evil series. Mikami joined Capcom in 1990 and whilst there, supervised a number of hits including Resident Evil, Devil May Cry and God Hand. In 2010 Mikami founded Tango Gameworks, which was then acquired by ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. On 14th October 2014, developed by Tango and under the direction of Mikami, The Evil Within was released to worldwide critical acclaim.

Goichi Suda / SUDA51 CEO /Game Designer, Grasshopper Manufacture Inc.

Joining Human Entertainment as a game designer in 1993, he worked on “Super Fire Pro Wrestling” series, and “Moonlight Syndrome”. After completing his work there, he established Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. in 1998 which became a group company of GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc. from February 2013.

Some of his major works include his debut title, “Silver Case” as well as “killer7”, “No More Heroes” series, “Shadows of the DAMNED”, “LOLLIPOP CHAINSAW” and KILLER IS DEAD”. The latest game he is directing, “LET IT DIE” (PS4) is slated exclusively for PS4 in 2015. 

For most of his work, he takes multiple roles as director, script writer and game designer. His own unique and distinctive style to create original worlds has earned him a solid devoted fan base around the world. 

In April 2015, SUDA51`S first writing and scenario debut on an animated short film, "Tsukikage no Tokio” (Tokio of the Moon’s Shadow), was presented at the Japan Anime(tor)’s Exhibition. The film was produced by Studio 
Khara and Dwango .

DAVID HELGASON Founder CEO, Unity Technologies

David leads Unity Technologies in its mission to democratize game development through the best technology, the best tools and the best business practices.

Helgason has led groundbreaking business innovation for Unity which have revolutionized the games industry and are now widely imitated and adopted. Every day he restlessly leads the global company’s future growth by focusing on the basics and channeling how they can lead to global domination.

An ex-engineer, technologist, and visionary, Helgason serves on the boards of several games and technology startups, speaks his mind about what he cares about most, and generally tries to make himself useful.

Jordan Mechner Author, game designer, screenwriter

Author, screenwriter and video game designer Jordan Mechner is best known as the creator ofPrince of Persia, one of the most successful and enduring video game franchises of all time.

Most recently, Jordan wrote the New York Times best-selling, Eisner award-nominated graphic novel Templar, illustrated by LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland.

Jordan began his career as a video game creator in the 1980s with Karateka and followed soon after with Prince of Persia, two of the first games to combine arcade action with realistic animation and cinematic storytelling. Both titles became #1 bestsellers and are considered all-time classics.

Prince of Persia was adapted in the 1990s for nearly every computer and console platform and was a major influence in the development of the action-adventure video game genre.

In 2001, Jordan joined forces with Ubisoft Entertainment to reinvent his decade-old classic for a new generation of gamers withPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Its breakout success in 2003 launched a global franchise that now includes graphic novels, toys, LEGO sets, and over 20 million video games sold to date.

In 2010, Jordan became the first game creator-turned-screenwriter to successfully adapt his own work as a feature film withDisney's Prince of Persia, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It is the world's highest-grossing video game adaptation ever, at $335 million worldwide.

Dr. Richard Marks Director of PlayStation Magic Lab, Sony Computer Entertainment

Richard Marks directs the PlayStation Magic Lab in Sony Computer Entertainment, which focuses on using technology to explore new interactive experiences. He has worked at PlayStation since 1999, leading the creation of EyeToy, PlayStation Eye, and PlayStation Move. Most recently, he has been involved with PlayStation 4 interaction and Project Morpheus, PlayStation’s virtual reality technology.

David Gaider Senior Writer, BioWare EA

David has worked at game developer BioWare since 1999, as both writer and designer, on games such as Baldur’s Gate 2, Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights. He was lead writer on the Dragon Age series as well, including Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2 and most recently on 2015’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. He is currently working on an unannounced BioWare project.

Steve Gaynor Co-founder, Fullbright

Steve Gaynor is a video game writer and designer who worked for a number of years on the BioShock series before founding his own independent game studio. The studio's first game, Gone Home, received wide critical acclaim. He is currently working on their next title, Tacoma.

Chris Crawford Principal, Storytron

Chris Crawford earned a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1975. After teaching physics for several years, he joined Atari as a game designer in 1979. There he created a number of games: Energy Czar, an educational simulation about the energy crisis, Scram, a nuclear power plant simulation, Eastern Front (1941), a wargame, Gossip, a social interaction game, and Excalibur, an Arthurian game.

Following the collapse of Atari in 1984, Crawford took up the Macintosh. He created Balance of Power, a game about diplomacy, Patton Versus Rommel, a wargame, Trust & Betrayal, a social interaction game, Balance of the Planet, an environmental simulation game, and Patton Strikes Back, a wargame. In 1992, Crawford decided to leave game design and concentrate his energies on interactive storytelling, a field that he believed would become important. He created a major technology for interactive storytelling systems, patenting it in 1997. He has continued to improve the technology since then and is now working on a interactive story world entitled “Siboot”, to be published in 2016, after which he will be releasing his interactive storytelling technology as open source.

Crawford has written five published books: The Art of Computer Game Design, now recognized as a classic in the field, in 1982; Balance of Power (the book) in 1986; The Art of Interactive Design in 2002; Chris Crawford on Game Design in 2003; and Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling in 2004, with a second edition in 2012.

He created the first periodical on game design, the Journal of Computer Game Design, in 1987. He founded and served as Chairman of the Computer Game Developers’ Conference, now known as the Game Developers’ Conference.

Crawford has given hundreds of lectures at conferences and universities around the world, and published dozens of magazine articles and academic papers.
Crawford served as computer system designer and observer for the 1999 and 2002 NASA Leonid MAC airborne missions; he also has carried out analysis of the resulting data. 

Rami Ismail Developer & Business Guy, Vlambeer

Rami Ismail is the Business & Development Guy at Vlambeer, a Dutch independent game studio known best for Wasteland Kings, Ridiculous Fishing, Super Crate Box, LUFTRAUSERS, GUN GODZ, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter & Radical Fishing.

Through his work at Vlambeer, Rami has come to realize that the marketing & business facets of many independent game developers could use some help. As such, he created the free presskit-creation tool presskit() and is working on releasing its first add-on, release().

Believing sharing knowledge openly is the cornerstone of independent development, Rami has spoken on a variety of subjects at dozens of game events around the world, ranging from the Game Developers Conference to Fantastic Arcade & from University seminars to incubator mentorship.

He is a avid opponent of game cloning after Vlambeers Radical Fishing got cloned. He is also a proponent of searching for new, beautiful things in places no-one is looking for them and thus organized Fuck This Jam, a gamejam focused around making a game in a genre you hate. Rami also works closely with the Indie MEGABOOTH team to enable indie studios to showcase at the larger game conventions.

Rami exclusively drinks cane sugar Coca Cola.

Gonzalo Frasca CEO, okidOkO

Gonzalo Frasca is a game designer and academic who currently creates learning games at okidOkO. He has created videogames for animation companies such as Lucasfilm, Disney, Cartoon Network & Warner Bros. He also co-created the first official videogame for a US Presidential campaign. In 2012 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Knight Foundation for his pioneer work in newsgames. Frasca holds a PhD in Videogames from the IT University in Copenhagen.

Thomas Killen Developer, Hipster Whale

Thomas develops the worldwide hit "Crossy Road" with the very talented team at Hipster Whale.

Thomas has been developing games and interactive installations professionally since 2006. Tom entered the indie game development scene in 2009 at the beginnings of the mobile gaming revolution, and becoming a Unity3d developer in 2010.

Since then he has worked on a number of titles, several of which have been financial and critical success.

Jean-Baptiste Huynh CEO, WeWantToKnow

Jean is the CEO and creative director of WeWantToKnow, the game studio behind the multi awarded DragonBox learning game series. These games are famous for teaching difficult subjects as algebra and geometry proof to millions of young children. In addition to creating learning games, WeWantToKnow designs and organizes large scale learning game competitions. WeWantToKnow is always pushing the envelope to remove the boundaries between learning and entertainment thru the use of games.

Peter Vesterbacka Mighty Eagle, Rovio Entertainment LTD.

Peter Vesterbacka is the Mighty Eagle, Special Projects and the grandest brand ambassador of Rovio Entertainment, the creator of the wildly successful Angry Birds franchise and over 50 other games.

Prior to Rovio, Peter worked for HP in several communications-industry related roles. While at HP, Peter founded the HP Mobile E-Services Bazaar, a global innovation and corporate partnership program that Booz Allen Hamilton declared an industry benchmark.

Peter is also Co-founder and the original initiator of MobileMonday as well as the founder of Some Bazaar, a new approach to building and growing new businesses. In 2011 Time Magazine recognized Peter as one of the most influential people in the World in their TIME 100 Listing.

Efim Voinov Co-founder, CTO, ZeptoLab

Efim Voinov is a mobile games developer with more than 10 years experience in this area. He worked on numerous mobile games and applications for almost every popular mobile platform, and has experience with many programming languages and computer technologies.

Efim was born in Moscow, Russia.
He started writing games at the age of 8, when parents bought his first ZX Spectrum computer.
He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics, with the master degree in Computer Science. Together with his brother, Efim founded ZeptoLab - an award winning company known for its Cut the Rope game series.

Besides game development, Efim likes motorbikes, snowboarding and enjoys martial arts.

Whitney Hills Game designer, Independent

An eight-year veteran of the game industry, Whitney’s career has spanned studios of all sizes, including Microsoft, Disney, Lionhead, Double Fine, and HumaNature. In 2011, she became an independent designer, writer, and consultant.

Ken Bretschneider CEO | Fundador, The VOID

Mr. Bretschneider is a true entrepreneur. Having experience and passion for the arts, he founded two startups in his early 20s, which included a video game and web development company. After gaining almost a decade of experience, specifically in design and technology,
Mr. Bretschneider founded DigiCert in early 2003. DigiCert has since grown to become the world’s third-largest issuer of high-assurance digital certificates using Secure Socket Layer encryption. DigiCert protects major web properties such as Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia and nearly all major government and higher educational institutions. The key to DigiCert’s success was Mr. Bretschneider’s devotion to offering a high value proposition to its customers and a nurturing environment for its employees.

Mr. Bretschneider sold DigiCert in 2012 paving the way for him to explore his other interests. Owing to his fine-arts education, Mr. Bretschneider launched an independent film studio (Deep Studios) and record label (Hidden Records). The record label’s first band “The Moth & The Flame” has risen quickly listing on all major charts including Billboard Magazine. After a short incubation period the band was signed to Elektra a division of Capitol Records.

In late 2012, Mr. Bretschneider funded and assisted in launching LINK, a new software start-up focused on developing and marketing a cloud- based, lite ERP solution. LINK is building a state-of-the-art point of sale system (POS) that is nearly out of beta and providing small and medium business owners software solutions that LINK all the important and needed software components together. Mr. Bretschneider owns a majority interest in LINK.

Mr. Bretschneider’s real estate development company, KPB Equities, is presently focused on two major real estate development projects. The first is the Air Urban Center a mixed use development featuring an urban styled boutique hotel with entertainment, which is situated in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The second is Evermore Adventure Park, an immersive theatrical location based theme park (location TBDT). Designs are currently under development. THE VOID will play a major role as an entertainment anchor at Evermore Adventure Park. KPB Equities is also exploring additional development opportunities in the hospitality and retail sectors. Ken recently opened a new 80’s themed arcade/gastro-lounge in Sherman Oaks, CA called “The One Up” with a second location opening soon in downtown SLC. The One Up opened with great enthusiasm and fanfare, quickly achieving monthly profitability.

Mr. Bretschneider also owns and operates a 1,000-acre organic cattle ranch in Southeast Idaho (Half Circle Ranch) and a wholesale nursery and tree operation in American Fork, Utah (Thrive Wholesale Growers). Both operations recently achieved profitability. These businesses are synergistic to Mr. Bretschneider’s other ventures. For example, organic beef will be used by several of Ken’s ventures including The One Up, Air Urban Center and Evermore Adventure Park. Ken’s nursery provides tree and plant scaping support for several of his businesses.

Recognizing the need for businesses to be active in a social mission, Mr. Bretschneider helped found and launch People Water, which is a cause- based business that provides clean drinking water to those in need around the world. Already, People Water has built wells in Ghana, Nicaragua, India, and has fixed over 40 wells in Haiti and Cambodia. People Water provided relief for the Philippines Typhoon, which give thousands of people access to clean water following the disaster.

Mr. Bretschneider has been married for 24 years to Patrice (Allen) Bretschneider. Together they have four daughters.

Konrad Tomaszkiewicz Game Director, CD Projekt Red

I was born in 1982 in Warsaw, Poland. I’ve been an avid gamer for as long as I can remember. In February 2004,  during my studies at the Medical University of Warsaw, I was lucky enough to have been hired as a Tester at CD Projekt RED for The Witcher. Over the course of development on The Witcher,  I was promoted to a Quest Designer, and was responsible for designing quests, communities, monsters and story.

After the success of The Witcher 1, in January 2010, I was promoted to Lead Quest Designer on The Witcher 2.  In March 2012, I became the Game Director on The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. Games are my passion and I cannot imagine that I could do anything else in life.

Aurelien Regard Independent Developer

Hi everyone! My name is Aurelien Regard, 34 years old, and I'm the sole The Next Penelope developer (code, art, music). Picture a tiny 2D F-zero, make it pretty challenging with bosses and a tricky weapon system, then add a unexpected story setting the greek mythology in space. A few years ago, I co-founded a studio called Arkedo (2006-2012), but today I'm trying to make this game as a one man band.

Here are some games I previously worked on from 2006 to 2012:

  • Nervous Brickdown ( Nintendo DS / SquareEnix )
  • Big Bang Mini ( Nintendo DS / Southpeak )
  • Arkedo Series ( X360 / Self Published )
  • Hell Yeah! ( Steam-X360-PS3 / Sega )
  • Poöf (Steam / Neko Entertainement )

Making The Next Penelope alone for these last 2 years has been quite an adventure, and I'll be happy to share some stories with you. More about the game can be found on its website or directly on Steam.

See you in Barcelona!

Jordan Shapiro Instructor/Columnist, Temple University/Forbes

Jordan Shapiro, PhD. is an internationally celebrated author, speaker, and consultant who's unique perspective on education blends psychology, philosophy, and business in surprising ways. His Forbes.com column on edtech, parenting, and game-based learning has been read by millions of people worldwide. He is the author of "MindShift's Guide To Digital Games and Learning." He teaches in Temple University's Intellectual Heritage Department where he’s also the Associate Director for Digital Innovation. He is the parent of two boys (seven and ten years old) and the lead administrator at Project Learn School (an independent cooperative K-8 school in Philadephia). His most recent book 'FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide To Maximum Euphoric Bliss,' considers how the games we play in our youth shape our adult lives. His new book on digital games and learning is due to be released late 2015.

Alistair Hope Creative Director, Creative Assembly

Alistair Hope is Creative Director of Alien: Isolation. He has worked at Creative Assembly, one of the UK’s most established studios since their indie days, joining the now 300+ man studio as employee No. 8 in 1996. A painting and sculpture fine art graduate he followed his first love, creating video game experiences, and as an Art Director and Game Designer.has worked on titles for Activision, Electronic Arts and Sega in a variety of genres from sports, strategy games and action adventure. Alistair lives in Brighton, UK

Tom Jubert Narrative Designer, Freelance

Tom Jubert is a London-based freelance narrative designer. His break-out writing role was on Frictional Games’ 'Penumbra' series in 2007, and he has since carved out a niche in philosophical science fiction with games like 'The Swapper' and “The Talos Principle”. He also worked as a writer on “FTL”, “Driver: San Francisco” and many more. Tom has a masters degree in political philosophy.

John Gargiulo Vicepresidente de Desarrollo de negocio y marketing, BlueStacks

John Gargiulo has been involved in Marketing and Business development for 14 years. He began his career in advertising at Merkley + Partners in New York on the Mercedes and Citigroup accounts. He then joined six-time Adweek Agency of the Year, Cliff Freeman & Partners, creating TV campaigns for Snapple, Quiznos and the re-branding of TBS. As the first Marketing and BD hire at BlueStacks he has helped the company grow from 0 to 85 million users and 0 to 8-figure revenue.

Brjann Sigurgeirsson CEO, Image & Form

Brjann runs Image & Form, a game studio of 16 childishly creative people in rainy, windy Gothenburg, Sweden. I&F's latest release is the acclaimed SteamWorld Dig, which will be followed by SteamWorld Heist, by far I&F's biggest game to date.

Brjann is addicted to chess and keeps the impending doom of middle age at bay by singing - and posing a lot - in the greatest live band on Earth.

Juan Gril Founder, JoJu Games

(Argentina) va fundar joju Games el 2005 després de la seva experiència com a director de desenvolupament de Yahoo! Game Studios. Joju està dedicada a la creació de jocs casuals per a clients tan diversos com MTV, Atari, DeNA, Comedy Central o Nickelodeon. Grilo és també un dels assessors de l'organització de la Game Developers Conference, codirector del prestigiós festival Indiecade i jurat del festival de jocs independents Sense of Wonder Night de la Tòquio Game Xou.

Peter Wingaard Meldahl Rain, CEO

I am one of the founders and the CEO of the Norwegian game dev studio Rain. We developed Teslagrad, and are currently working on another title set in this now familiar universe.
I have an education in Physics and a background from working with IT, Graptic Design and managing projects like concerts and festivals. My true passion is in game design, my second love is building a team and a company.