Session Speakers and Topics


Jason Chein, Director -  Amazon GameCircle Event Sponsor


Jason is the Director of Amazon GameCircle, and a product-centric executive seasoned in developing games as services and managing online economies. Previously, Jason has been a Partner at Vanedge Capital as well as held management positions at Electronic Arts and Xbox.

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Opening Keynote - Creating the Difference – Game Creators as Advocates

As game creators, we embrace the artistic value of our work and appreciate the comprehensive and collaborative effort behind our medium. While it’s slowly changing with the generations, the public at large maintains a persistently negative perception of games as distractions and game developers as pursuing a less than noble profession. What role can each of us play in trying to alter this perception and be an advocate on behalf of our industry?

Kate Edwards, IGDA Executive Director


Kate Edwards is the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), appointed in December 2012. She is also the founder and principal consultant of Geogrify, a Seattle-based consultancy for content culturalization, and a unique hybrid of an applied geographer, writer, and corporate strategist, built upon a passion for global cultures and media technologies. Formerly as Microsoft’s first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, Kate was responsible for protecting against political and cultural content risks across all MS products and locales. In the Microsoft Game Studios. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance to many companies on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues, and she continues to work on games such as Dragon Age 1 and 2, Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dance Central 1-3, Mass Effect 3 and Halo 4. Kate is also the founder and former chair of the IGDA’s Game Localization Special Interest Group, the co-organizer of the Game Localization Summit at GDC, and is a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine.

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The Art of Prototyping

Prototyping is a tried and true tool in almost every developer’s arsenal, as it can save countless hours of production quality effort on an unworkable idea. Although this technique is typically performed once at the start of a single, larger project to nail down certain mechanics, there are many other ways in which prototyping can be a huge boon to you and your team. In this panel, a handful of local independent developers will share some of their experiences, tips and tricks and discuss how prototyping can be useful in more ways than you would expect.

Zach Aikman, 17Bit


Zach Aikman graduated from the DigiPen Institute of Technology in 2008 after co-developing the IGF Student Showcase winner, Synaesthete. His work experience runs the gamut, ranging from smaller one-man projects to monolithic corporations like Microsoft and everything in between, including a brief stint in Kyoto at the venerable Q-Games. More recently, he’s aligned himself with the talented chaps at 17-BIT to help bring their next game to life. He currently resides in Seattle, where he dabbles in experimental prototypes and helps coordinate local activities and events in the indie development scene.

John Krajewski, Strange Loop Games


John Krajewski is studio head of Strange Loop Games, and designer and programmer of the liquid-physics puzzle game Vessel.  Prior to founding Strange Loop, he was Lead AI Programmer at Electronic Arts Australia, designing and developing AI systems for open world games.  His portfolio of games includes ‘Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring’, ‘The Suffering’, and ‘Destroy All Humans’, and has developed games for console, tablet, mobile, and desktop.  He holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from University of Washington.

Sean Gubelman, Drizzly Bear


Sean has been making games since his 7th grade math instructor first accidentally taught him enough to do so. After attending and finishing a bachelors in computer science at Digipen Institute of Technology, he went on to work at Microsoft Game Studios on Fable 2, Alan Wake, Mass Effect, and Kinect Launch titles. Since leaving Microsoft in 2011 he’s joined and left a startup company ( and started his own company ( He currently makes games for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows and keeps his company in business by doing contract programming work.

Samantha Kalman,  Experience Artist


Samantha Kalman is an independent Experience Artist, Game Designer, and Consultant. She is currently creating high-quality experiences incorporating both digital and analog elements of our world. Previously she worked at Amazon where she built interactive prototypes for Kindle. She was also an early contributor to Unity as QA Director for multiple engine releases, including the iPhone and Windows versions. She has also been known to mingle with Seattle Indies, make music, and write screenplays. She is based in Seattle and blogs at

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Compelling Visual Development

Why do some games look more interesting than others? Join us as we explore art creation process for indie games, visual narrative through design, positioning in the market, and techniques to generate a particular response from your audience. This is for artists, coders, and designers who want to get the most out of their visuals.

Chandana “Eka” Ekanayake, Uber Entertainment


Eka started his video game career at a small startup sixteen years ago and gaining experience in working at both medium to large public and private studios, For the last five years, Eka has been creating indie games at Uber Entertainment, makers of Monday Night Combat for XBLA and Steam, Outland Games for iOS and upcoming mobile and PC games. As Art Director, and Marketing and PR liaison at Uber, Eka enjoys being hands on with iterative development processes.  Previous to Uber, Eka was at Gas Powered Games, Shiny Entertainment, and Bethesda Softworks in various art and production roles.

Chelsea Douglas, Concept Artist at Trivial Technology



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Games as a Service: The New Golden Handcuffs

Increasingly, the most successful games on the market are not “fire and forget” games like the hits of the past, but services that are being maintained by their developers for years on end. Even games that we think of as “more traditional” are being supported with free updates so frequently and for so long that their lifecycle is utterly different from the hit games of the past. This trend brings with it tremendous opportunities for liberating ourselves as developers from the hellish hit-driven dev cycle that previously characterized our industry, but it also brings tremendous burdens. We are no longer game developers; we are customer support experts, live operations experts, event managers and virtual politicians. This panel will attempt to shed light on the ways you can effectively embrace games as a service without stretching your studio to the breaking point and how you can compete with larger companies throwing massive amounts of time and money at games that they hope will live forever.

Rich Rowan, Digipen


Richard Thames Rowan is an eighteen-year game industry veteran, having worked on over 50 video game titles with roles as varied as studio manager, executive producer, and lead designer. He has created games for seven different publishing platforms on genres from hardcore massively multiplayer online games to casual web and mobile games. Richard is also experienced in non-video games, having worked on board games, role playing games, and trading card games. He has worked for Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft Game Studios, and is currently founding his third startup. He teaches Game History for DigiPen Institute of Technology in his spare time.

David Edery, Spry Fox


David Edery is the CEO of Spry Fox, a game development studio that creates downloadable and online free-to-play games such as Triple Town, Steambirds, Panda Poet, and Highgrounds. Previously, David was Worldwide Games portfolio manager for Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service, where he was responsible for content strategy and selecting the games that would be accepted for distribution by the LIVE service. David co-authored “Changing the Game: How Video Games are Transforming the Future of Business,” a book which explores the ways that games can be leveraged by businesses for serious purposes.

Jon Grande, PopCap

JGrande - profile pic

As one of the earliest members of Microsoft Game Studios, Jon started what became the MSN Gaming Zone (holler if you remember!) and built relationships with external developers that led to the creation of games you’ve probably heard of, including Asheron’s Call, Dungeon Siege, Jade Empire and Mass Effect.  Following his career at Microsoft, Jon spent several years working on startups ranging from game development platforms to gesture recognition to building casual games based on licenses with top Hollywood studios.  Most recently, Jon was a Senior Director of Business Development at PopCap, responsible for freemium games on platforms ranging from Facebook to mobile to gen4 consoles.  Jon is a board member and advisor for several startups in games and digital media, as well as a long-time member of the IGDA.

Jay Moore, Strategery Group (Moderator)


Jay is a massively parallel entrepreneur, who thrives on building successful new ventures in the gaming sector. As President of BitRaider, Jay is helping deploy a next generation streaming technology for games. As Founder and Insight Merchant with The Strategery Group a consulting group, Jay has gathered a talented team to help their clients realize their full potential. Jay has been an evangelist and brand manager in the games industry since 1994, a partner in GarageGames and creator and host of Indie Game Con `02-`05. He is a frequent speaker at GDC SF & Austin, e3, DMW LA Games Conf., LOGIN and Casual Connect. As a start-up advisor to game entrepreneurs, he is an insight merchant focused on building strong business teams and advising on brand, business and corporate development.

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Pixel Perfect: Doing Retro Right

When developing a pseudo retro game, the subtle details can make or break the experience. Observing original hardware limitations can actually improve the game’s quality as opposed to limit it.

This talk goes into the technical details of how 8-BIT hardware worked and why, how games were developed in the ’80s, and which limitations to observe in the balance between user experience and presentation. Such aspects include which screen resolutions to use, how to scale the screen, which colors to use, how to use them, how screen fades should be done, and so on.

Brian Provinciano, vBlank


Brian Provinciano runs Vblank Entertainment, a PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and PC development studio. Developer of the award winning Retro City Rampage, Brian single-handedly did all of the programming, design, business and marketing. Prior to founding Vblank, Brian gained experience working for other studios from small to AAA, casual to core.

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Game Design Theory I Wish I had Known When I Started

We’ll cover critical design tools that I use every day in design my games.  These are pragmatic design topics like loops, arcs, internal economies, interaction frequencies and other fundamentals that all designers will benefit from understanding.

Daniel Cook, Spry Fox


Daniel Cook is a veteran game designer and co-founder of Spry Fox. He writes extensively on the techniques, theory and business of game design on and Gamasutra. Some of his games include Triple Town, Steambirds, Tyrian, Leap Day and the upcoming Road Not Taken.

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Closing Keynote - Secrets from the Future

This talk covers my last 9 years since leaving Microsoft in 2004. During that time I’ve started three companies with friends, served on many boards and been and advisor to many more game and tech companies. One thing all these companies have in common is they are trying to do something that has never been done before. Why do some succeed while others fail? Why are we still waiting for inventions long promised while enjoying other technologies no one imagined? What secrets will the future bring? I may not be able to answer these questions but I can at least share my own experiences playing with the future.

Ed Fries, Game Guy


Ed Fries created his first video games for the Atari 800 in the early 1980s. He joined Microsoft in 1986, and spent the next ten years as one of the early developers of Excel and Word. He left the Office team to pursue his passion for interactive entertainment and created Microsoft Game Studios. Over the next eight years he grew the team from 50 people to over 1200, published more than 100 games including more than a dozen million+ sellers, co-founded the Xbox project, and made Microsoft one of the leaders in the video game business. In 2004, Ed retired from his Microsoft Vice President job to continue his work in the video game business as board member, advisor and consultant to a broad range of publishers, independent game developers, and media companies. In 2007 Ed launched his own startup, FigurePrints, an innovative company that uses 3D color printing technology to bring video game characters to life. In the summer of 2010 Ed released “Halo 2600”, a “demake” of the Halo video game series for the Atari 2600.


  • Posted on May 21st, 2013
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