2013 Speakers – 2014 Info Coming Soon!
11am – Performances of “Journey” (composed by Austin Wintory) and “Dear Esther” (composed by Jessica Curry)
12:15 pm – Performance of “To the Moon” (composed by Kan R. Gao).
Finding Meaning in Gameplay
11AM – BostonFIG Main Theater Lecture hall room #10-250 (Building 10, second floor) Located in the Maclaurin Buildings – Building 10 is the Great Dome, overlooking Killian Court
Game designer and producer Robin Hunicke is known for her role on the award-winning downloadable game Journeyon Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN). Her keynote presentation, titled “Finding Meaning in Gameplay”, will focus on how developers can create games that inspire new feelings, by looking inward and examining the everyday experiences of their own lives.
As the executive producer of Journey, Hunicke ran a small indie team of roughly a dozen game developers. The game takes players from desert to mountaintop, through a breathtaking series of landscapes. Along the way, they cross paths with other players and can choose to adventure on together or alone. The experience struck the game world with its uniquely emotional qualities, while illustrating the high level of polish that a relatively small game development team can deliver. Journey achieved worldwide critical acclaim and marketplace success, as well as securing countless awards and nominations for game design, online innovation and artistic execution from numerous respected organizations such as BAFTA and the Grammys.
An artist and computer scientist by training, Hunicke recently co-founded the independent game studio, Funomena. There, alongside fellow Journey developer Martin Middleton, she is building a team to work on experimental gameplay projects and games for social good. Robin’s interest in the unique power of games to bring people together began with her early work on family-friendly franchises MySims and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox for 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 at GDC, has chaired the IndieCade Festival, and has published and lectured extensively on the MDA model of game design. She believes developers can create novel, experiential games by focusing on the feeling.
Specificity: The Indie’s Advantage
2:00PM – BostonFIG Main Theater Lecture hall room #10-250 (Building 10, second floor) Located in the Maclaurin Buildings – Building 10 is the Great Dome, overlooking Killian Court
Creating a great game is an almost overwhelming task at almost any level, from bedroom development to the biggest publisher-owned tentpoles. And independent developers of course face significant financial risk—personal rather than institutional. But with that comes the freedom of specificity. Indies can still safely rely on subtractive design, on stripping away everything that doesn’t speak to their games’ theme and goal.
This is just as applicable to the most inward-looking personal statement (Dear Esther) as to the most slick and ADHD-defying test of reflex (Super Meat Boy). This approach can certainly still be found in the big-budget sphere, but genre expectations and a volatile fragmented market makes it rarer by the year. By contrast, a growing audience for indie games and increasingly well-understood methods to reach a diverse set of communities is making specificity one of the most powerful tools available to indie developers.
Chris Remo is a composer, writer, and developer who currently helps make things at Double Fine Productions in San Francisco. He served as co-writer with Ron Gilbert on The Cave, handles Double Fine’s front- and back-end web development, manages its community presence, and is currently composing the original soundtrack for an unannounced title.
Outside of Double Fine, Chris co-founded the popular independent podcast network Idle Thumbs, which currently hosts four regular shows about video games and other cultural topics. He also composes original music for indie games, including the IGF-nominated titles Thirty Flights of Loving by Blendo Games and Gone Home by The Fullbright Company.
Brian O’Halloran has been performing in film and theater for over 20 years. With his first film role being “Dante Hicks” in popular filmmaker Kevin Smith’s 1994 indie hit Clerks, it is a role he is arguably most known for. Brian has worked with some of the film industry’s best in Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. He voiced the role of Dante for the animated series Clerks on ABC, then returned to the role of Dante in the film Clerks 2. He was recently seen in Kevin Smith’s TV show Comic Book Men on AMC.
Brian starred in the title role of the very dark comed, Vulgar. He owned a flower shop for the demented in the film Drop Dead Roses, and tackled the role of a former TV superhero in the film The Junior Defenders. He recently took a turn towards the horror genre sort of in Steven Mena’s film Brutal Massacre – a comedy a mock-u-mentary look at the making of a horror film. Brian was seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening and James L. Brooks comedy How do you know? with Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon. He currently appears in the suspense thriller Miss December. At this time, he has three film productions in pre-production stage of development.
Brian has been an avid gaming enthusiast since childhood, from the days of Colecovison. While growing up, he also played role-playing and table games. Brian has followed the gaming industry closely ever since. Having an automotive engineer for a father, he delved into what made things work. As the PC industry grew and gaming went to the PC platform, Brian started building his own computers with friends. Always wanting the best, he would be constantly upgrading his PC with new parts. In true gamer style, he and his friends would spend birthdays and holidays having LAN parties for days. Gaming is a topic and a hobby Brian enjoys to this day and still builds his own computers for himself and friends.
Back in the Dungeon – A conversation with Brian O’Halloran and Ethan Gilsdorf on how D&D changed their lives.
4:30PM – BostonFIG Main Theater Lecture hall room #10-250 (Building 10, second floor) Located in the Maclaurin Buildings – Building 10 is the Great Dome, overlooking Killian Court
Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, teacher and 17th level geek. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. He writes on arts, pop culture, gaming, geek culture and travel for New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, BoingBoing.net, PsychologyToday.com, Washington Post and wired.com and dozens of other publications worldwide. A core contributor to the blog “GeekDad” at wired.com, his blog “Geek Pride” is seen on PsychologyToday.com, and he is a regular contributor to Boston NPR affiliate WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog. He is also a book and film critic for the Boston Globe, and is the film columnist for Art New England.
As an expert on geek culture, Gilsdorf frequently appears on TV, radio and Internet media, including PBS Off Book, The Discovery Channel, the French TV network Arte, and several nationally-syndicated National Public Radio programs and in documentary films. He lectures at universities, schools, libraries, film festivals, gaming conventions and book festivals worldwide. Also an award-winning poet, Gilsdorf is co-founder of Grub Street’s Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP) and teaches creative writing and journalism workshops for adults at Grub Street, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.