2013 Speakers

Robin Hunicke
Robin HunickeGame Designer/Producer

Featured Performance by Videri String Quartet, preceding and following keynote speaker Robin Hunicke.

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


Generously supported by National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers

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.

Chris Remo
Chris RemoGame Composer/Writer

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.

Previously, Chris has worked in various capacities at game industry institutions including Irrational Games, Gamasutra, and Shacknews.

Brian O’Halloran
Brian O’HalloranActor/Writer/Gamer

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.

Ethan Gilsdorf
Ethan GilsdorfJournalist/Author

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.

Sessions

BostonFIG DevTalks Speakers

Jim Brown
Jim BrownLead Level Designer at Epic Games
Jim Brown is an industry veteran with over a decade of experience in the computer and video game industry. Jim has directed Epic’s development teams as lead level designer over most of the multimillion-selling, award-winning Unreal series and the blockbuster Gears of War franchise. Prior to joining Epic, Jim was a level designer for America’s Army, the computer game developed by the U.S. Army. He also helped ship the first three expansion packs in Sony’s renowned massively multiplayer online game, EverQuest. Jim was a founder and designer of HomeLAN, a community portal for the PC gaming community that hosted servers, provided clan management and published industry news. Jim developed downloadable content for a range of games and also created one of Diamond Multimedia’s map packs for the original Unreal Tournament. With long-established roots in the Unreal mod community, Jim was a winner of the very first Make Something Unreal Contest, in which he took home honors for his work in the Domination category.
Carl Callewaert
Carl CallewaertLead Product Evangelist at Unity Technologies
Carl’s enthusiasm for gaming builds on 10 years of production and evangelism experience and he loves sharing that enthusiasm with the Unity community. Prior to Unity, Carl worked on AAA and indie games and as a contract worker for Autodesk Education.
Michael Cummings
Michael CummingsTechnical Evangelist at Microsoft
Michael is a developer and architect with experience in app development, infrastructure design & deployment and business process as it relates to technology. He is an MVP and holds multiple certifications from Microsoft and other certifying organizations, including MCP, MCT, MCSD, MCSE, and MCDBA. Michael has been a graphics and game programmer since the days of the TI99-4/A. He started the Boston XNA Developers Group and is a sought after speaker on XNA, MonoGame and cross platform mobile app development. He has contributed to many open source projects, including AXIOM, a .NET/Mono 3D rendering engine and Planeshift () a 3D MMORPG. Michael also has experience with native game and graphics development (C++/DirectX) on Windows.
Darren Korb
Darren KorbAudio Director at Supergiant Games
Darren Korb is audio director at Supergiant Games, where he composed the music, conducted voice recording, and created all the sound effects for the small independent studio’s critically acclaimed title, Bastion. In 2007 he received his BA from NYU’s Gallatin School, studying Music Production and Music Business. Since then he has worked as a session musician, produced several New York recording artists, composed for various TV and film projects, authored songs for the Rock Band Network, and written a rock musical. He is currently working on Supergiant’s upcoming title, Transistor.
Tom Krcha
Tom KrchaSr. Creative Cloud Evangelist at Adobe
Tom Krcha is a Sr. Creative Cloud Evangelist at Adobe focusing on designer/developer workflows for Gaming, Web and Apps using code with Photoshop, Illustrator and other Creative Cloud tools. He develops games and speaks regularly at conferences in USA, Europe and Asia. He is programming for over 14 years and worked for interactive agencies, gaming studios, streaming companies and telco providers. Tom writes a blog at TomKrcha.com and you can follow him on twitter: @tomkrcha.com.
Jen Looper
Jen LooperBoston Corona SDK Ambassador
Jen is a web and mobile developer with many years of experience working at companies ranging from nonprofits to big corporates. Currently, she is the mobile developer at World Singles and also develops cross-platform mobile apps at her own company, LadeezFirstMedia, specializing in educational games and fitness apps. Mom of two with a PhD in French, founder and educator at the Wellesley Code Academy, dancer and musician, Jen is passionate about creating a diverse array of software solutions that better the world. Corona SDK is a popular development platform for building cross-platform 2D games for mobile devices. Blockbusters include Fun Run (20M+ downloads), Blast Monkeys (12M+ downloads) and more.
Todd Marks
Todd MarksCEO of Mindgrub
Todd Marks started growing Mindgrub in 2007 from his basement when the iPhone was first released. Since that time Mindgrub has grown to 50+ employees, made over 75 apps, and has learned a tremendous amount along the way. Last year, Mindgrub officially launched their Games division, and now has five titles available in the AppStore and Google Play.
Paul Neurath
Paul Neurathgame entrepreneur and co-founder of Looking Glass Studios
Paul Neurath is Boston-area game entrepreneur, having started in the 8-bit 1980’s. He founded Looking Glass Studios in 1990, where he oversaw the development of such classics as Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief. In 2000, Paul founded a mobile game studio, Floodgate, which he sold to Zynga in 2011. Paul is currently in stealth mode on a new game startup.
John O'Leary
John O'LearyAccount Supervisor at TriplePoint
John O’Leary is an Account Supervisor in TriplePoint’s NYC office. A lifelong gamer who finally entered the industry after quitting a job in finance in 2010, John has supported and led corporate and product PR campaigns for a wide variety of clients on different platforms, ranging from publishers like Atari to independent developers behind acclaimed indies like Papo & Yo and, most recently, Outlast. John now spearheads TriplePoint’s work with developers who seek to self-publish on mobile, console and PC.
Darren Shield
Darren ShieldAttorney at Zussman Law
Darren Shield is a New York based media and entertainment attorney at Zussman Law PLLC, specializing in copyright, trademark, and privacy law for the game development and interactive media industries. His practice involves start-up business formation, complex commercial transactions, intellectual property licensing, mergers and acquisitions. He is a graduate of New York Law School where he was an associate at the Institute for Information Law and Policy, and a guest lecturer on intellectual property law at Marist College. As a life-long gamer and enthusiastic supporter of the independent game community, he is proud to present the Shield Student Innovation Award for a truly outstanding student game. Reach him at darren@zussmanlaw.com or follow him on twitter @darrenshield.

2012 Speakers

Keynotes

Leigh Alexander
Leigh AlexanderJournalist
Leigh Alexander covers the art and business of video games at Gamasutra, and writes a monthly column on the culture surrounding games and gamers at Kotaku, as well as a monthly column on industry issues at EDGE Magazine. She is editor of the games section at NYLON Guys magazine, maintains her Sexy Videogameland weblog and is a contributor to Thought Catalog, where she often focuses on the social media and internet culture landscape. Her work has appeared in Slate, Variety, the Los Angeles Times, Paste and a host of other publications, and she frequently speaks at events on the business and design of social media and the intersection of interactive design with the real world.
Jason Scott
Jason ScottGame Designer/Producer
My name is Jason Scott. Since I was 9 years old, I have had a fervent love of computers and technology, bounded only by realities of economics and time. From the BBS world of the 80′s to the early wonders of the Internet and to the Web and beyond, I’ve dabbled and dosed myself in whatever hot new computing fads and freakishness this wonderful world could come up with.
As I entered into my late 20′s, I realized I had been a part of many great things, and the perspective I had gained since that time gave me ideas. The most potent of these ideas has been to spread the feelings, horrors and astonishments of computing’s history to people who came into it late, or never came into it at all.
I wasn’t a Big Player in the Turning Points of the last 20 years, but I was a good listener and a good watcher, and I hope that what I do bring to you will both excite and intrigue. If you were there, we’ll reminisce together. And if you weren’t there, do I have a story to tell you….

Sessions