Welcome to the 2015 Gaming Insiders 30: the key professionals, as nominated by members of the Gaming Insiders community, who will have the greatest creative, cultural or commercial impact on the games industry during the next twelve months.
Anita Sarkeesian is the most important critic videogames have ever had.
As games mature they will increasingly be judged not just by how “fun” they are, but by their artistic merit. Sarkeesian’s tens of thousands of supporters—and her vitriolic detractors—prove that her message strikes a chord. As demand for games to be criticized and analyzed in a more intelligent way increases, voices like hers will only become more crucial.
Many gaming companies that saw early success are now long gone or struggling to hold on. Meanwhile, TinyCo, in its sixth year with founder Suli as CEO, launched Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff into a consistent spot on the on the Top Grossing list and shows how popular brands can be done right on mobile.
As Director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab, Tracy runs one of the most important and influential educational game programs in the world. Under her leadership, a significant percentage of the next generation’s best game designers have been given the tools to make games that will spearhead the evolution of the games industry.
Since its inception in 2005, IndieCade has been the indie gaming community’s biggest supporter. By featuring high-quality independent titles at its own events and within major industry events like E3, the company has become a serious hitmaker. The market for indie games has never been healthier, and Barish’s company will continue to flourish alongside it.
After establishing himself as an innovative designer with games like Canabalt and Hundreds, Saltsman has quietly acted the part of elder statesman of the now mature indie mobile scene. His new company, Finji Games, is already shaking up indie game publishing and is on its way to becoming a highly-esteemed label for smaller titles.
Many recognize Amy Hennig for her work as a critical acclaimed writer and creative director on the Uncharted series, but Hennig’s experience in the games industry dates back to the Nintendo Entertainment System. She recently joined Visceral Games as creative director on their upcoming Star Wars project.
As the President of SCEA, Andrew House is currently presiding over a stunning turnaround in Sony’s fortunes on the console front. Despite cries about the “death of the console” from critics, the PS4 is flying off shelves so quickly that Sony executive Shuhei Yoshida remarked that he was “a bit nervous because we do not completely understand what’s happening.”
In his previous role as Executive Vice President of EA Sports, Andrew Wilson managed to convert the long-running Madden and FIFA franchises into full-on services, monetizing them beyond the standard once-yearly $60 update. Now that he’s taken the reigns as CEO, Wilson is well equipped to turn the company into a powerful player in the games-as-services space.
The success of League of Legends and Dota 2 has proven that there’s an enormous appetite for MOBA-style games, and Super Evil Megacorp’s first game, Vainglory, will bring the genre to mobile. Apple is already putting a lot of faith in the game—Vainglory was given lengthy stage time at Apple’s iPhone 6 reveal event, where it was used to demonstrate the new phone’s graphical power.
Chris Avellone is the most Kickstarted man in gaming. He was positioned as a stretch goal for the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter, but he’s also getting credits on InXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 2, which was Kickstarted for $3 million. Obsidian Entertainment, which Avellone co-founded, raised nearly $4 million on Kickstarter for Pillars of Eternity.
Chris Roberts’s Star Citizen has a lot to live up to. The open-world spaceship combat game has now raised nearly $53 million from fans, and although a full-scale release is nowhere in sight, fans don’t seem to mind. Cloud Imperium has taken to releasing pieces of the game in small chunks, and the coming year is its chance to deliver on the promise of its original pitch.
TellTale emerged as a powerhouse developer in 2012 with the release of its critically-acclaimed adaptation of The Walking Dead. The company was once struggling to prove the power of the episodic gaming model, but there’s now little doubt that it can deliver huge sales. Hype is already strong for its Game of Thrones-branded project.
Since Kongregate co-founder Emily Greer took over the reins as CEO in February 2014, she’s led the GameStop-owned company’s transition to mobile. The studio’s diverse publishing lineup, which includes 3D games like Epic Skater and an excellent mobile port of Disruptor Beam’s Games of Thrones: Ascent, makes Kongregate’s future look bright.
Televised gaming historically existed on the peripheral fringes of the games industry, until Twitch, under the direction of CEO Emmett Shear, quietly grew to become an eSports juggernaut. Twitch’s recently closed $970 million deal with Amazon adds plenty of fuel to the future of televised gaming.
As Blizzard Entertainment’s lead designer for Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™, Eric Dodds oversees all aspects of gameplay, including card design, gameplay balance, game modes, and the user interface.
Dodds joined Blizzard Entertainment in 1997, and during his lengthy tenure with the company has served in key roles on numerous games. His first role was working on StarCraft® and Diablo® in quality assurance. Dodds then went on to serve as a level designer on StarCraft: Brood War® and Warcraft® II: Battle.net® Edition as well as on the strike team for Diablo II and the Lord of Destruction® expansion. He then joined the newly formed World of Warcraft® team and spent eight years serving as a systems designer. More recently he worked on the design of Diablo III before joining the Hearthstone team.
Dodds is a board gaming enthusiast who is always up for a game of Galaxy Trucker or Liar’s Dice.
Since launching Game of War: Fire Age in July of 2013, Machine Zone has exploded, under CEO Gabriel Leydon’s direction—into a 150-person company with annual revenue in the hundreds of millions. Game of War is a mainstay in both the iOS App Store and Google Play top grossing charts, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Curse-Gaming.com began as the official website for Hubert Thieblot’s World of Warcraft guild, but has since bloomed into a gaming website network that includes over 500 game-specific wikis and a popular VOIP service. While traditional games media has mostly ignored the now enormous (and still growing) eSports scene, Thieblot has built an empire on it.
No company dominates mobile gaming like Supercell. All three of its games—Clash of Clans, Hay Day, and Boom Beach—are consistently among the top-grossing apps on both the iOS App Store and Google Play. CEO Ilkka Paananen says he wants to turn Supercell into “the first truly global games company,” and he’s well on his way towards achieving that goal.
As Chief Technology Officer at Oculus, John Carmack is driving what will likely be the most exciting and important technical innovations in the games industry for the coming decade. It is now a question of when, not if, virtual reality will become a serious platform, and Oculus is leading the charge.
In only a few years, Disruptor Beam CEO Jon Radoff has built a company that’s published two wildly popular social games based on huge franchises—Game of Thrones and Stark Trek. By combining the free-to-play model with a focus on building games that expand existing stories and IPs, Radoff has tapped into something powerful.
Kelly is the founder of Indie MEGABOOTH, a showcase that brings indie games into the heart of conferences previously dominated by AAA budgets and works to create support networks for small development teams. She’s involved in local community building along with creating cross community networks and acts as an advocate for indie developers with platform holders, distributors, publishers and press. The MEGABOOTH’s current focus is on expanding community support efforts and addressing discoverability issues for indie games.
After successfully transitioning to mobile from Facebook, Kabam CEO Kevin Chou has transformed his games studio in a billion-dollar company. Kabam is also one of the few western companies to make serious inroads into Asia, and the recent $120 million investment it received from Alibaba inspires confidence in its expansion plans.
In her business development role at Google Play Games, Koh has helped turn Google’s platform into a true equal to Apple’s App Store. Since the platform’s rebranding in 2012, the perception of Android has a games platform has improved dramatically. With Koh’s efforts, that trend will continue.
As the GM of GDC, the biggest development-focused conference in the games industry, Meggan has enormous influence over the discussions that take place within the development community. With GDC’s push toward diversity and its embrace of the industry-culture conversation, Scavio’s shown that she’s not likely to be shy about pushing things in a progressive direction.
Few mobile games companies have handled the transition to smartphones and the free-to-play business model as effectively as Glu. Under De Masi’s leadership, Glu has become known for publishing mobile games that target underserved market segments—the success of the Deer Hunter franchise and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is a testament to this.
Since taking over as CEO of Nexon in February of this year, Owen Mahoney has led the company in a wave of major partnerships with emerging studios like Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions, Brian Reynolds’ SecretNewCo, and Turbo Studios. The free-to-play pioneer has had several tough quarters in recent months, but it’s making smart investments with enormous potential payoffs.
As a producer and designer, Robin Hunicke has garnered credits on some of most innovative games of the last ten years, including thatgamecompany’s Journey and the underrated but brilliant Wii game Boom Blox. She’s assembled a highly talented team to work on several unannounced projects at her new startup, Funomena.
Hello Games’ Joe Danger series has been extremely well-regarded in all of its iterations, but few could have predicted the huge amount of hype generated for its next game, No Man’s Sky. The procedurally-generated game took E3 by storm when Murray and his three co-founder showed it off, and all subsequent signs suggest the team will meet expectations when they launch the final product.
Formed by an all-star team of game devs with credits including The Walking Dead, Gone Home, and Bioshock 2, Campo Santo has all the makings of a grade-A indie studio. Its first game, Firewatch, is shaping up beautifully.
Greg Essig is currently Co-Head of Business Development at Mobcrush. In his previous role directing the games section of the Apple App Store, Essig had led Apple to become more open and developer-friendly over the last few years.
Mr. Greg Essig was the Head of Business Development at FunPlusgame inc. and was responsible for scaling the FunPlus business through partnerships with game makers, platform and technology companies as well as strong brands. He has years of entertainment and games experience, including a key role at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) where he was instrumental in developing its games practice. His responsibilities included representing independent video game designers and studios in the development of licensed and original game IP for console, downloadable, social and mobile gaming platforms.
Bonnie Ross is a video games developer and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios. Ross established and is the head of 343 Industries, the subsidiary studio that manages the Halo video game franchise.
Ross’ career in the video game industry began in 1994, starting as a producer working on PC sports games. In addition to the Halo franchise, she has worked on many other game titles including NBA: Inside Drive, Pandora’s Box, Zoo Tycoon, Dungeon Siege, Counter Strike, Gears of War, Jade Empire, Psychonauts, and Mass Effect.
Ross was listed in Fortune magazine’s 2014 article “10 powerful women in video games”, which noted that she was “responsible for defining the vision and leading the Halo franchise, which has sold more than 60 million copies worldwide” and had “helped grow the Halo franchise beyond gaming” with books, video series and TV series.
In October 2014, Ross appeared as a speaker at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, held in Phoenix, Arizona, presenting on “Technology and How It Is Evolving Storytelling in Our Entertainment Experiences”. She has also made appearances as a speaker at GeekWire 2013 and Microsoft’s ThinkNext 2015 in Israel.
Chris DeWolfe is the CEO and co-founder of SGN, the fastest growing major U.S. mobile games studio founded in 2010. As CEO, DeWolfe has built the company responsible for over a dozen top-10 titles on the iTunes Store. SGN has had more than 500 million installations of its games including Cookie Jam, which was also named Facebook’s Game of the Year 2014. With SGN’s projected revenues of $280+ million for 2015, this will be DeWolfe’s second venture to exceed a quarter of a billion dollars in yearly revenue.
Prior to SGN, DeWolfe was co-founder and CEO of MySpace, the social network that redefined the concept of socializing around shared interests. Under DeWolfe’s leadership, MySpace became the number one most trafficked site in the United States. At launch in 2003, MySpace attracted an average of 300,000 new members daily, but by the time he left the company in 2009, it had more than 130 million monthly active users globally. From 2005-2008, MySpace was the most visited social networking site in the world.
DeWolfe won the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in June 2015, and has been featured on the cover of Fortune magazine twice. He was also named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, chosen by Barbara Walters as one of her 10 Most Fascinating People for 2007, and won the Producers Guild of America’s Vanguard Award in 2009. DeWolfe has a B.A. degree in Finance from the University of Washington and an MBA from the University of Southern California, and was honored by the latter as Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year (2006). DeWolfe served on the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Talenthouse. He lives in Los Angeles.
Chris Roberts is one of the most recognized, well-respected, and successful game developers in the interactive entertainment industry. His Wing Commander series of games developed at Origin Systems in the 1990s became one of the top grossing and must successful space sim games in the industry. Roberts later started his own company, Austin-based Digital Anvil, where he developed other award winning space sims, Freelancerand Starlancer. After spending 10 years in the Hollywood film industry, today, Roberts is chief creative officer at Cloud Imperium Games which he co-founded. The company’s first title, the crowd funded Star Citizen, is currently under development and to date has raised more than $88 million. The game is currently recognized by Guinness World Records as the top Crowd Funded Project ever.
Dave Hagewood’s company Psyonix has taken the gaming world by storm with Rocket League, a game with a seemingly simple premise but infinite opportunity for replayablility. With such a huge hit under their belt on PC and PS4, all eyes are on the developer’s next move.
Mr. Clinton Foy, JD, serves as a Managing Director at Crosscut Ventures Management, LLC. He is focuses on seed and early stage venture capital investments in IT, mobile, social, cloud, e-commerce, consumer, new platforms, augmented reality, virtual reality, and the video game space at the firm. Previously, he was a Venture Partner at the firm. Mr. Foy served as the Chief Operating Officer at Square Enix, Inc. since September 1, 2011 and also served as General Counsel, and Head of Business Development. He managed licensing and strategic partnerships for SPACE INVADERS, FINAL FANTASY, and TOMB RAIDER franchises. In seven years he oversaw more than 100 product launches across a dozen platforms and grew annual revenues to more than $300 million. He recruited a top-tier team and built the mobile, social, and online business in North and South America. Mr. Foy practiced law with the Heller Ehrman Venture Law Group, representing clients including Microsoft, Sony, and Yahoo. He serves as a Director of Super Evil Megacorp. He leverages 15+ years of experience as an operating executive and business counsel to startups, entrepreneurs, and leading video game, technology, mobile, and Internet companies. Mr. Foy holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts from Stanford University Graduate School, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law.
Jade Raymond was born in Montreal Canada. She attended the Marianopolis private college in Downtown Montreal and after spending one whole summer playing video games it became pretty clear for her that she had not only to play them, but to make them.
As a teenager, she did night shifts working as a hospital switchboard operator. Part of her job involved calling “Code-Green” or “Code-Red” over the loud speaker and paging hospital staff when there were emergencies.
She later studied computer science at the McGill University in Montreal, and after graduating college with a degree in, Jade’s first job was programming games at Sony. While at Sony, she founded the first Research and Development group within Sony Online. Her team was responsible for leveraging Sony IP across multiple platforms and ultimately building Sony Online’s most trafficked offerings: the entire suite of Jeopardy games played by over 3,000 simultaneous users on a daily basis.
With a specialty in creating and designing online games, Jade began work at EA as a producer and went on to be the Producer behind one of EA’s most popular online games to date, The Sims Online. She was directly responsible for all design and implementation of online game features and content for EA’s highest revenue generating wholly owned property.
After seven years of working in New York and San Francisco she moved back to Montreal, her hometown, to make games at the world acclaimed Ubisoft Montreal Studio.
She is the producer of the game Assassins Creed, one of the most buzzed-about titles of 2007. As a video game producer, she is in charge of overseeing the development of the game regarding the creative and technical development of the game as well as maintaining schedules and budgets. She is also acting as a liaison between the development staff and the publisher or executive staff insuring the game will be delivered in time.
Her biggest break came at the 2003 Game Developer Award’s Ceremony where she was one of the presenters. After the ceremony, Victor Lucas, the co-host and executive producer of the popular G4 TechTV‘s show called The Electric Playground came up to her and asked her to join the crew along with Tommy Tallarico, Julie Stoffer and Geoff Keighley. Although she never thought that I would be doing tv, she said it’s a lot of fun and liked her experience very much. Because of this, Jade is now known to game fans throughout the world. As a result, she also gets to help out other game designers and producers by interviewing them for the show, which allows fans to put faces with names.
In August 2009 Jade left UbiSoft Montreal to join UbiSoft Toronto, to develop their new blockbuster videogame hit : Splinter Cell and left UbiSoft in October 2014 to Pursue New Opportunities.
In July 2015 Jade join EA (Electronic Art) and opens EA studio in Montreal called “Motive Studio”.
Once a person behind the scenes, Jade Raymond has advanced to a level many in the gaming community never see. Her appearances during gaming conventions such as E3 and X06 have made her popular amongst gaming fans. And while she is enjoying the fame that come with being on television, she still finds time to do what she loves most: Make video games.
She played Everquest 10 hours every day for three months when it came out. Her favorite video games of all time is Resident Evil 4, but liked alot Prince of Persia Sands of Time, Tekken 3, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, PaRappa the Rappa, Intelligent Cube and Incredible Crisis. She is currently playing Loco Roco on her PSP and has a weak spot for any game that involves monkeys, peculiar Japanese names or Zombies.
Dean Hall was Born in Oamaru, New Zealand, May 14th 1983. Even growing up Dean had the desire to develop games, starting on a Commodore Amiga Desktop that was given to him at a young age. During his time in the Army, he was inspired by the difficulties of his survival training to create a simulation using the ArmA II engine to prepare other soldiers for the emotional hardships they may face; this idea was essentially turned down by the Army, and so Dean decided to add Zombies into the game and release it to the public as a Apocalypse Survival game.
As Google Play’s lead, Jamie Rosenberg has been focused on creating great experiences for users, while driving up user engagement on the Android platform.
Google Play has been showing swift and impressive growth since it first launched in 2012, steadily catching up with Apple’s App Store. Part of the storefront’s success is attributed to the Play team’s dedication to developers, with Google boasting more developers working on its platform versus Apple.
Rosenberg had previously been a director of digital content for Android and was the public face for the Google Music launch. Before joining Google in 2010, Rosenberg had been at Microsoft. Before that, he was vice president of premium services for Danger.
Jane McGonigal, PhD is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games — or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems.
She believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission — and her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize.
She is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press, 2011) — and is the inventor and co-founder of SuperBetter, a game that has helped nearly half a million players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.
She has created and deployed award-winning games, sports and secret missions in more than 30 countries on six continents, for partners such as the American Heart Association, the International Olympics Committee, the World Bank Institute, and the New York Public Library. She specializes in games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems, such as poverty, hunger and climate change, through planetary-scale collaboration. Her best-known work includes EVOKE, Superstruct, World Without Oil, Cruel 2 B Kind, Find the Future, and The Lost Ring. These games have been featured in The New York Times, Wired, and The Economist, and on MTV, CNN, and NPR.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Games for Change.
As president, CEO, and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., Mike Morhaime is dedicated to maintaining the high standard of quality that has propelled Blizzard Entertainment to the pinnacle of the gaming industry and positioned the company as an internationally recognized leader in interactive entertainment.
In February 1991, Morhaime cofounded Blizzard Entertainment with Allen Adham and Frank Pearce. Under Morhaime’s direction—first as a company vice president and then as president since spring 1998—Blizzard has grown from a third-party development studio into a premier publisher of entertainment software, with a track record that includes nineteen #1 games and numerous Game of the Year awards. Over the past decade, Morhaime has also overseen Blizzard’s transformation into a global enterprise. The company now has multiple offices in North America, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and thousands of employees worldwide.
Beyond his leadership responsibilities, Morhaime has had a direct hand in the development of each of Blizzard’s blockbuster franchises. He worked as a programmer and/or producer on games in the critically acclaimed WarcraftÒ, DiabloÒ, and StarCraftÒ series, as well as on the company’s online gaming service, Battle.netÒ, and served as executive producer on the world’s most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft®. Most recently, he has guided Blizzard’s expansion into new genres and franchises with Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™, Heroes of the Storm™, and Overwatch™.
Morhaime earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1990. In his free time, he plays bass for Blizzard’s in-house and in-game band, Elite Tauren Chieftain.
Kevin Chou is co-founder and CEO of Kabam, a world leader in AAA mobile free-to-play games. Kevin is an entrepreneur who has guided Kabam’s explosive growth, which started with a handful of people working above a dim sum restaurant and catapulted to $400 million in revenue, sustained profitability, and a valuation of more than $1 billion in 2014.
Since co-founding a company in 2006 that became Kabam in 2009, Kevin has led the disruption of the video game industry by revolutionizing the way players access and pay for games. He has secured partnerships with leading game platforms, as well as with Hollywood studio giants such as Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Warner Brothers for games based on some of the world’s most beloved movie franchises. Under Kevin’s leadership, Kabam has raised more than $240 million from venture and strategic investors, including some of the world’s largest entertainment and internet companies such as Alibaba, Google, Intel and Warner Brothers.
Before co-founding Kabam, Kevin worked at the global venture capital firm Canaan Partners, which is Kabam’s initial investor and where he invested in 14 consumer technology and online media companies. Earlier, Kevin advised public technology companies on M&A and corporate finance as part of Deutsche Bank’s technology investment banking practice.
Kevin graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley with a BS in Business Administration. At UC Berkeley, Kevin was admitted to the inaugural class of Gates Millennium Scholars. In 2014 Kevin was named one Fortunemagazine’s prestigious “40 Under 40” and, in 2012, was identified by Fortune as one of the “Smartest People in Tech.” The Los Angeles Times called Kevin “absurdly accomplished.”
Mr. Mark Pincus founded Zynga, Inc. in 2007 and has been its Chairman of the Board since April 2007 and Chief Executive Officer since April 8, 2015. Mr. Pincus served as the Chief Executive Officer at Zynga, Inc. from April 2007 to July 8, 2013 and also served as its Chief Product Officer from April 2007 to April 2014. He served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Support.com from December 1997 July 1999. Mr. Pincus was a part-time employee of Support.com. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Pincus was a Co-founder and served as the Chief Executive Officer of FreeLoader, Inc. From 1994 to 1995, he served as Vice President with Columbia Capital. From 1993 to 1994, he served as Manager at Tele-Communications, Inc. (now AT&T Cable). Mr. Pincus Co-Founded Tribe Networks, Inc. in 2003 and serves as its Chairman. Mr. Pincus Co-founded Support.com in December in 1997 and served as its Chairman since December 1997. He serves as the Member of Advisory Board at Spride, Inc. Mr. Pincus holds a B.S. in Economics from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Matt Fischer has been a key figure in the growth of the App Store over the last 5+ years, responsible for global digital business for Apple – serving over 800 million customers in 155 countries. In this time, Fischer helped grow business 30x to over $15B in annual billings.
Paul is the co-founder and CEO of Dots, an art-inspired mobile gaming studio. Prior to Dots, Paul helped start and fund a handful of successful startups as a partner at betaworks, including Giphy, Bloglovin, Blend, Poncho and Upclose. Prior to betaworks, Paul helped lead Aviary’s pivot to a mobile photo editing platform as their COO, which was ultimately acquired by Adobe. Before Aviary, he was chief of staff for the President of Microsoft’s Business Division. He holds a Computer Engineering degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from IE Business School in Madrid.
Pete Hines spent his student years as a DJ for the college radio station. He also acted as commentator for the women’s basketball team radio broadcasts, and was the PA announcer for men’s soccer. He also built up experience writing press articles and team programs, between assisting a finance professor with research work. He describes it as “a ton of practice at writing, public speaking, press relations, talking to people one-on-one or in groups, and things it turned out I really enjoyed doing.”
Following graduation, Pete worked for the American College of Cardiology and the American Association of Blood Banks, writing professionally for around 5-6 years. In addition to this, Pete wrote for The Adrenaline Vault for 3-4 years on a part-time basis.
Through this he developed a number of contacts within the industry, including current colleagues Todd Howard and Emil Pagliarulo. Pete explains that journalistic experience is useful for games designers, because “it gives you the chance to show that you know about games, can break down why a game is good, or isn’t, and make good arguments and give compelling reasons.”
Pete finally combined his professional writing with his gaming hobby in 1999, when he was recruited to Bethesda Softworks’ marketing department. Pete writes the games’ manuals as well as being in charge of all information that is released to the public – press releases, web and blog updates, and announcement posts on the forums. Along with Todd Howard, Pete is frequently interviewed by the press and gives demonstrations of in-development games to industry organizations and (such as at PAX) the wider public.
Phil Spencer leads Microsoft Studios and oversees creative teams around the world developing games, entertainment and premium content experiences for Microsoft’s family of devices including Xbox One, Xbox 360, Kinect, Surface, Windows PC and mobile phones. Microsoft Studios has been instrumental in building a community of 76 million Xbox 360 owners and 48 million Xbox LIVE members through blockbuster game franchises such as Halo, Kinect Sports, Fable, Forza Motorsport and industry leading interactive entertainment. Spencer and team led the development of brand new entertainment offerings including a landmark partnership with the NFL and collaborating with industry luminary Steven Spielberg to bring a new Halo live action TV series to life. A 25-year veteran of Microsoft, Spencer has held a variety of technical roles including development lead for Microsoft’s first CD-ROM-based titles including Encarta, development manager for Microsoft Money, and general manager of Microsoft’s online and offline consumer productivity products including Microsoft Works and Microsoft Picture It! Before being named general manager of Microsoft Studios worldwide in 2008, and promoted to corporate vice president in 2009, Spencer served as general manager of Microsoft Game Studios EMEA, working with the European development community. Spencer holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and currently serves on the boards of The First Tee of Greater Seattle and the Entertainment Software Association. He lives in Bellevue, Washington, with his wife and two daughters. In his free time he enjoys snowboarding, playing golf with his family and traveling.
Samantha Ryan serves as Senior Vice President of EA Mobile, overseeing the development of EA mobile games across a wide range of studios.
Since joining Electronic Arts in March 2015, Samantha has been a critical strategic leader at the PopCap, Firemonkeys and Waystone studios, driving product strategy and development. She has been instrumental in shaping the future of some of EA’s most successful and beloved mobile franchises, including Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, Real Racing and The Sims.
Prior to joining EA in 2015, Ryan served as Senior Vice President of Production & Development at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. She played a critical role in growing Warner Bros. into a Top 10 publisher and managed successful development studios including Rocksteady, WB Games Montreal, and NetherRealm. During her tenure she oversaw titles including the award-winning Batman: Arkham franchise,Mortal Kombat, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Scribblenauts and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Prior to Warner Bros., she served as President of Monolith Productions where she directed titles such as the critically received No One Lives Forever and F.E.A.R. Her career prior to games included work in promotions and marketing for Infinity Broadcasting and consultant to the Singapore Broadcast Corporation.
Samantha is a lifelong gamer from her early days playing Archon and Wizard on her Commodore 64 through personal favorites like Super Paper Mario, StarCraft and The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Ryan is based in the Bay Area with her family.
Sean Murray is the Managing Director at Hello Games, indie sensation behind one of the most anticipated games on PC and PS4: No Man’s Sky. After multiple main stage demos at E3, the industry eagerly awaits getting to explore the vast world his team has crafted.
Throughout her career, Shannon Loftis has been fascinated by technology’s ability to connect and to divide human beings. She studied computer science and mathematics at Duke University before joining Microsoft in 1993 and quickly migrated to the Games group. Her early work focused on the creation of online card-playing games, utilizing the emerging consumer potential of the Internet and social game design. As Publishing Producer, Shannon was responsible for multiplayer games across PC, Xbox, and Xbox 360, including the Madness series, Project Gotham Racing, Fable, and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, among others. Shannon has built and managed many global teams at Microsoft, the most recent of which include a European publishing unit in the UK; the Good Science studio, which she created from the ground up to explore the potential for Kinect (including creating core technology and many games); and, most recently, Xbox Entertainment Studios, where she creates interactive television content on all Microsoft platforms.
Siobhan Reddy is Studio Director of Media Molecule, the computer games developers responsible for the multi award-winning Little Big Planet. She got her first job at Spike Wireless in her native Australia before relocating to England at the age of 18, where she began work as a Production Assistant with Perfect Entertainment.
In 1999 she moved to Criterion Games, leaving to co-found Media Molecule in 2006. After winning a Production Award at the first ever Microsoft Women in Gaming Awards in 2009 for her work on Little Big Planet, she became known as one of the biggest movers and shakers in the gaming industry. She is currently a member of BAFTA’s Games Committee.
Tetsuya Nomura began his career at Square Enix (formerly SQUARE Co., Ltd.) in 1991 as a monster designer for FINAL FANTASY V. Nomura then continued his design in FINAL FANTASY VI before becoming a character designer for FINAL FANTASY VII and creating two of the most beloved characters in FINAL FANTASY history, Cloud and Aerith. Nomura has also served as the character designer for The World Ends with You and Parasite Eve series, along with FINAL FANTASY VIII, FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY X-2, FINAL FANTASY XIII and FINAL FANTASY XV.
Nomura is the director of the KINGDOM HEARTS franchise including KINGDOM HEARTS III and is currently working on the full remake of FINAL FANTASY VII for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system.
Thomas is co-founder and CEO of Los Angeles studio Playsaurus, makers of the surprise hit idle game Clicker Heroes. Upon its May Steam launch, the title became the most played free to play game on the platform after Valve’s own DOTA 2 and Team Fortress 2. As the idle genre continues to explode in popularity, Thomas and his team are positioned to exert substantial influence upon its evolution into the mainstream.
Journalist turned developer Tom Francis excited gamers with Gunpoint, a years-in-the-making indie puzzle game with quality writing and exciting gameplay. His next project, Heat Signature, looks to expand on his vision for making quality games. Beyond developing, Francis is also a strong voice in the world for those interested in making games but are afraid of their lack of skill, offering numerous videos on how to get started and inspiring many in the process.
Chet Faliszek is a writer at Valve and the former webmaster of Old Man Murray.
Faliszek is the co-writer, along with Marc Laidlaw and Erik Wolpaw, of the Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portalstories. He also wrote the story for Left 4 Dead, and later co-wrotePortal 2’s plot with Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton
Faliszek is, with Wolpaw, the creator of the now defunct website Old Man Murray. Today he shares an office at Valve with Wolpaw and Laidlaw. The latter states about Wolpaw and Faliszek on his personal blog that “for years, Chet and Erik were legendary figures of mythic status to me. They still are, except now I can throw things over my shoulder and hit them.” On Valve’s official website, his function is described in this way: “We are all still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Chet does at Valve, but at the very least he occupies office space on the 11th floor as self-proclaimed Mr. Awesome.”
Adam Boyes has become a mainstay on the stage at any major PlayStation conference, exciting fans with exclusive games content and surprising the gaming world with exciting announcements. As Vice President of Publisher & Developer Relations, Boyes acts as the link between content-craving fans and genius designers, and his reputation has been stellar.