2018 SPECIAL GUESTS
The best industry folks from across the country
SCOTT JOHNSON - FROGPANTS STUDIOS & THE INSTANCE PODCAST
Scott Johnson is an illustrator and veteran podcaster based in Salt Lake City. His webcomic MyExtraLife launched in 2001 and still runs to this day. He started podcasting in 1999, before it was called podcasting, and has since created a network of shows boasting 500,000+ weekly listeners. In 2009 Scott launched Frogpants Studios, and continues expand and grow it to this day. Scott is the winner of multiple podcasting awards, and was recently inducted into the Podcaster Hall of Fame. He launched Nerdtacular in 2007, a gathering convention of fans, followers, readers and listeners from around the world. He resides with hims wife and children in SLC, Utah.
DAEMON HATFIELD - IGN.COM
Daemon Hatfield is a senior producer at IGN.com and a host of IGN’s popular video game talk show Game Scoop! He currently resides in San Francisco where he is also an electronic DJ/Producer. Daemon has produced several LPs, EPs, and singles as well as music for film, video games, and theatre projects. Check out Game Scoop! on Youtube and his music at daemonhatfield.com.
JESS BROHARD -
Jess has almost five years of game industry experience under her belt, and currently works as a freelance event and video host, partnered Twitch streamer, and YouTube partnered content creator. She also has experience with in-studio hosting, promotional modeling, interviewing, booth emceeing, and tournament organization. Jess has worked previously with amazing companies like Curse, DreamHack, Ubisoft, and HyperX
MIKE GEIG - UNITY
Mike Geig is a Technical Evangelist for Unity Technologies where he develops and delivers recorded, live, and onsite learning content. He enjoys loitering and accordions. A gamer at heart, Mike works to make game development fun and accessible for all skill sets. Rumor has it he also wrote a book called “Unity Game Development in 24 Hours”. Mike was once set on fire and has over a million “likes” on Facebook.
KATE EDWARDS - GEOGRIFY / TAKE THIS
Kate Edwards is the CEO and principal consultant of Geogrify, a consultancy for content culturalization, a Board Member of Take This, and is the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) from 2012 to 2017. In addition to being an outspoken advocate who serves in several advisory/board roles, she is a geographer, writer, and corporate strategist. Following 13 years at Microsoft, she has consulted on many game and non-game projects for BioWare, Google, Amazon and many other companies. Fortune magazine named her as one of the "10 most powerful women" in the game industry and she was named by GamesIndustry.biz as one of their six People of the Year. In April 2018, she was honored with Reboot Develop’s annual Hero Award.
KAZUMA JINNOUCHI - COMPOSER
Kazuma Jinnouchi is BAFTA-nominated music composer, actively working both in U.S. and Japan.
He has provided scores for numerous projects including Microsoft's blockbuster, Halo 5: Guardians, Halo 4, for which he recorded orchestra and choir at 20th Century Fox Newman Scoring Stage (Los Angeles, CA), Abbey Road Studios (London, UK), Rudolfinum (Prague, Czech), and mixed with Alan Meyerson at Remote Control Productions, and Kojima-Production's video game franchise Metal Gear Solid series. His most recent work is the music for the latest Halo: Infinite E3 2018 trailer.
STEVE HAMAKER - PLOX COMIC
Steve Hamaker is the Eisner Award winning colorist of Bone, RASL, and Table Titans. In 2005 he self published his first graphic novel, Fish N Chips and has contributed several original stories to the Flight and Explorer anthologies.
Other coloring work includes: Terry Moore’s SIP Kids (2014-15), Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (2009), and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto comic series (2012-13).
Steve lives in Columbus Ohio with his wife and son
WILLIAM EVANS - BLACK NERD PROBLEMS
William Evans is a writer and nerd connoisseur from Columbus, OH. He is the co-founder of Black Nerd Problems. In addition to authoring three manuscripts, he is a freelancer contributing to various publications including a monthly column for Columbus Alive.
JOSH DEBONIS - KILLER QUEEN
Joshua DeBonis is an award-winning game designer and President of BumbleBear. Joshua is a co-founder and organizer of NYC-Playtest. He has taught game design and development at Parsons the new School for Design and the NYU Game Center. Josh is particularly interested in creating games that provide a deep and meaningful experience in a short play time.
NIKITA MIKROS - KILLER QUEEN
Nikita Mikros is the CEO of BumbleBear and a veteran game designer. He is a three time IGF finalist, Indiecade and Come Out and Play winner. In addition he has worked on many games for clients including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, LEGO, and others. He has taught game design and programming at the School of Visual Arts since 1994. Nik is currently very focused on creating new types of competitive games for arcades.
SwankyBox (Brad) is an Ohio-based YouTuber who runs a video game-focused channel with over 182,000 subscribers and 28 million views. He speaks at conventions around the country about YouTube, storytelling, and pursuing your creative passions. By trade he is an animator, videographer, and writer. He took the YouTube plunge in 2015 and has been living in the world of online video ever since.
Brad’s attentiveness to each viewer’s experience has allowed him to reach the front page of Reddit twice for videos he created. Beyond that, his channel gained over one hundred thousand followers within the first year of pursuing it full-time. He constantly analyzes trends to deliver optimized content for a search-heavy online world. He also is a YouTube consultant for other creators and businesses.
KATIE HAMILL - MULTIVARIOUS
Katie is an illustrator from Ohio, Lead Concept Artist for Multivarious and partnered Twitch streamer. She has three wonderful cats and a passion for creation.
SEVEN DEBORD - ELEAGUE
Seven is the Co-Host of The ELEAGUE Report podcast by ELEAGUE, the winner of Blizzard’s “So You Think You Can Cast”, and an official Hearthstone Commentator for Blizzard and Tespa.
REBEKAH SALTSMAN - FINJI
Rebekah Saltsman is the co-founder and CEO of Finji, mom-and-pop indie development studio and publisher based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rebekah started her career as a technical writer and product manager in the photography software industry. She moved into games in 2008, managing the finances and porting partnerships for Semi Secret Software. Rebekah manages the console and storefront relationships for all of Finji’s internal and partner publishing projects along with guiding all teams through the long years of development via design, production and publishing.
KIRA MAGRANN - A COZY DEN
Kira Magrann is a tabletop roleplaying game designer, queer cyborg, and snake mom living in Columbus, Ohio. She currently has a Patreon where she designs experimental games, a YouTube channel where she talks about game design, and she blogs a few times a month at Gnome Stew. With the support of her patrons she recently released a game about Lesbisnakes in wintertime titled A Cozy Den. Her work can be found here: https://kira-magrann-xf7x.squarespace.com/.
HOPE MOORE - GRID LAB
Hope Moore is a member of the development team at the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab at Ohio University in Athens. Her background includes interactive multimedia design, filmmaking, photography, journalism, software development, and instructional technology. When she isn’t working or studying, she is writing science fiction screenplays, experimenting with technology, researching local history, and streaming story-based games on Twitch.
PHIL TIBITOSKI - YOUNG HORSES
Philip "PTibz" Tibitoski is president of Young Horses Games, the nine person independent game development studio in Chicago, IL that created Octodad and Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Young Horses is now working on a new unannounced game they hope will delight and bring joy to players everywhere.
BRETT PENNINGS - BOWLCUT STUDIOS
Brett Pennings is the game design and development half of Bowlcut Studios, based in Grand Rapids, MI. He designed and developed the GDEX 2017 "Best in Show" award winning game, MageQuit, and will be talking about its creation as well as game design, in depth. Expect to learn about the inspirations and techniques that went into it and the reason the studio cancelled their nearly-complete mobile game title "Feisty Fist" after over a year of development.
CHRIS BIDWELL - NINTENDO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CONTESTANT
At the age of 13, Chris advanced to the Semi-final round of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio. Twenty-five years later, he was given a second chance to fulfill his boyhood dream and won the Chicago, Illinois regional of the 2015 Nintendo World Championships, finishing 9th in the finals in Los Angeles, California. Chris is an amateur video game historian and game collector and was featured in the documentary series Nintendo Quest: Power Tour. In 2014 he founded the Columbus Retro League, a group that runs offbeat retro video game tournaments around Ohio and runs the annual Replay Rx Dr. Mario National Championship at the Replay Fx expo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
GEORGE ZIETS - INXILE ENTERTAINMENT
George Ziets has been writing and designing games since 2001. He spent the first part of his career on MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online before running off to make RPGs at Obsidian Entertainment. His favorite Obsidian projects were Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, for which he was the creative lead. Since then, he’s been a stretch goal on a few Kickstarter games, including Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera. He is now a lead designer at InXile Entertainment, working on the latest installment of the post-apocalyptic Wasteland series.
Alyssa Stahl is currently attending Ohio University and is majoring in Media Arts & Studies with a focus in animation and virtual reality. She works in the Games Research & Immersive Design Lab at the University as a 3D modeler/animator and helps develop various interactive virtual reality experiences. Alyssa is Vice President of the Ohio University Immersive Media Association and is a student in the Honors Tutorial College.
Nick Locapo is a former game developer turned magician. In the early 2000's he was at the forefront of browser-based gaming, and was responsible for numerous "questionable" viral marketing practices. Most of which, are now completely illegal. After having to take some "time off" from the internet, Nick became a master magician. Over the last decade he has performed his magic act for millions of people all over the world. In 2015 he began teaching magic , and has worked with thousands of magicians on their act. And now, in attempt to atone for his prior internet sins, Nick has returned to the gaming community to share his secrets... good or bad, with you.
ROSS HERSEMANN - LOADING LAW
Ross is an attorney, writer, and gamer.
Ross is the Founder of Loading Law, a Chicago-based law practice, and provides legal counsel to video game developers and entrepreneurs in the tech sector. Ross is also the Organizer of the Chicago Video Game Law Summit and an Adjunct Professor of Video Game Law at DePaul University. He speaks frequently on hot topics in law and technology and his book on Video Game Law will be published soon. Ross also serves as Co-Chair of the CBA YLS Creative Arts Committee, Vice Chair of IGDA-Chicago, and as a Board Member of the VGA Gallery.
SAM PRELL - GAMES RADAR
Sam Prell has covered games and entertainment for G4, Destructoid, Penny Arcade, Joystiq, and GamesRadar. Born, raised, and currently living in small-town Iowa, he considers himself a darn lucky farm kid surrounded by an industry too large to ever truly comprehend. But that's part of the fun, and he has been writing, exploring, and telling tales of games and their creation for nearly a decade. Sam feels it is important to be an avid advocate for LGBT* individuals, POC, women, and other minorities.
AMANDA FAROUGH - GAMEDAILY.BIZ
Amanda Farough, managing editor of GameDaily.biz, has been meandering around the game journosphere since 2010, mostly covering indie games, culture, and industry news. These days, she talks about the business of making games through a critical cultural lens. Amanda has been writing about the importance of diversity and representation in games for a number of years, most notably at Mic.com. Amanda lives in New Jersey with her partners, two dogs, and four kids.
Sabriel Mastin is a writer who has covered the gaming industry for 4 years, with most recent endeavors covering Overwatch esports for Overbuff and USA Today’s Overwatch Wire. Sabriel also is an advocate for trans people, being a trans woman herself, and is a moderator for the Girl Gamers subreddit. If you’d like to get on her good side, you could talk with her about Dungeons and Dragons, how Ana is the best hero in Overwatch, or how Enterprise is one of the best Star Trek series.
Sarah LeBoeuf was born and raised in North Jersey, moved to Philadelphia at 18, and considers the city home. A ten-year-plus games media vet, Sarah has bylines at Nerdist, Mashable, Tom's Guide, Ars Technica, and more. Despite spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about video games, she often spends her free time playing them (her all-time favorite is Maniac Mansion). Her other hobbies include talking about her cat, getting into Twitter arguments (@sarahthebeef), and being a bit too into Star Wars.
DB Cooper is the voice of the AI, the mercenary, the goblin, and the goddess. She casts and directs films, advertisements, and video games; and has been speaking at game conferences and teaching people how to take bullets, howl in agony and die since 2006.
Star is a Twitch partner, community leader, and game developer who does art and marketing in the industry. She spends her time helping developers and streamers pursue their passion. Star also works at Indiecade as a community coordinator and social media strategist, hosts Gamkedo club meetings, and helps run Pro Indie Dev online conference. She loves to drink coffee and is very fond of pugs.
Jason Conaway was previously a Senior Software Engineer at Hypnos Entertainment and is working with Riot Games to help create their updated League Client. He previously held engineering positions at videogame publishers Electronic Arts, DreamWorks Interactive, and Sierra Studios. Since 1996, Jason has programmed core systems of some of the most popular video games in the world, including League of Legends, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Bulletstorm, Golden Eye: Rogue Agent, Return to Krondor, and several titles in the Medal of Honor series. Jason also teaches game development at Game-U, in Powell, OH.
RACHEL PRESSER - SONICTOAD CONSULTING
Rachel Presser is a game developer, writer, content strategist, and business educator from The Bronx. A noted business-of-games speaker, Rachel is a frequent and trusted contributor to Gamasutra and long-time business instructor at Playcrafting. She has spoken at Indiecade, ECGC, Gameacon, the North American Basic Income Congress, among others. Her mix of financial and gaming industry experience coupled with playing in hardcore bands have made her a sought-after speaker in the entrepreneurship sphere.
LEANTHONY EDWARDS - DINSMORE
Leanthony focuses on trademarks, technology transactions/licensing and privacy. His experience includes assisting clients with social media, trademarks and contract matters dealing with technology.
He has knowledge and experience in the area of privacy law and obtained certified information privacy professional U.S. certification through the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Leanthony earned his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from California State University San Bernardino.
JAMES DEIGHAN - MEGA CAT STUDIOS
James Deighan is a co-founder of Mega Cat Studios. With over a decade of start up experience and 100+ shipped projects, he's a proven leader. A retro gamer at heart, James works to distill the retro ethos of what makes NES, SNES & Sega Genesis games fun while looking to the future. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA where he entertains and cares for his socially challenged pets.
ZACK MANKO - MEGA CAT STUDIOS
Zack Manko is a self-proclaimed Retro Apostle. He's been a game designer for over a decade and now celebrates his role as co-founder/co-conspirator at Mega Cat Studios primarily focusing on game design. He also has experience with experential marketing, color commentary, interviewing, tournament emceeing, and tournament organization. Zack has worked with video game, board game and escape room projects over the globe.
ANDREW MARSH - MEGA CAT STUDIOS
Andrew Marsh is the Lead Designer at Mega Cat Studios. He's been working on NES games with color and technical restrictions since the late 90's. He gave us his career in the film industry to pixel his way into your hearts. Andrew's dedication to the art form is best represented by the glamour shot above of him sleeping PVM televisions. He's worked on projects like Batman, Castlevania & Coffee Crisis
CORY BROWN - AFO STUDIO
Cory Brown is Founder and Creative Director at AFO Studio, an indie game company based in Huntington West Virginia. He’s a Board Member of the Appalachian Game Creators Association, teaches Animation and Game Development and creates games for Strictly Business Computer Systems. He helped launch West Virginia’s first Game Developers Expo (WVGDE) after being inspired by OGDE in 2015 - thinking to himself, “if there aren’t these communities near you, build them."
Susan Magnani is in her final year at Bowling Green State University, where she will complete a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Science. Throughout her time at BGSU, Susan has worked three internships in her field, all in different specializations - including Data Analysis, Web Development, and IT Support. She also worked as a Software Support Specialist at BGSU for more than 2 years and spent a summer as a professional PHP Developer. Susan's true passion is video game design and she has been the head of self-started Emblazon Games since her freshman year, when she first had the idea for what is now the MMO concept Shadowless Online . Susan lives with her fiance Kevin, and their two cats, Boots and Ella.
TOM CAPREL - HYPERION MARKETING
Tom Caprel is a marketer, gamer, tech enthusiast, and trained opera singer. In 2013, Tom and his co-founder started a big-data website to analyze virtual markets with the goal helping players get the most out of their time in-game. In 2015, Tom started a dedicated marketing company, Hyperion Marketing, to help small game/software developers show their success to the world. Tom is on the board of IGDA Chicago, and has been the Communications Director and Expo Director at the Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery since February 2016. Tom has been in marketing for 8+ years, and regularly works with Chicago startup incubators.
TRAVIS FAAS - INDIANA UNIVERSITY
Travis Faas brings his experience working for an advertising company into the classroom, teaching students how to build interactive media experiences that combine technical mastery and an eye for artistry. He’s written several introductory texts on media applications development that have been used as resources in universities nationwide.
He is pursuing a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction, with specific interest in the programming and game development communities of practice supported by internet technologies, such as Twitch.tv
Ryan Davis is a solo indie dev based in Indiana. As both an artist and a programmer, Ryan specializes in the magic space between art and code. He has a long history making games for fun and for sale. Check out his latest finished work at www.adventurelamp.com. Ryan is currently making games for the modern arcade, using small resolutions on high end hardware to create a new kind of arcade experience.
Jon is a music composer and sound designer specializing in advertising, film and games. He has composed music for national brands, including Downy, Mentos, Southwest Airlines, and ADP. His film scores include the internationally distributed feature film, Dusk and the documentary Hate Crimes in the Heartland. Match Point, exhibited at GDEX, will be his first video game score. In 2012, Jon received an MFA in Music Composition for the Screen from Columbia College Chicago.
ZACK KELLY - IMPROVING
Zack Kelly is an entertainer at his core. By day, he's a Product Owner and Business Analyst with the consulting firm Improving. By night, he marvels audiences as a master improv performer. He applies his love for improv to everything in life, like creating dynamic stories for his RPG groups and making others laugh when they need it most. Outside of work and improv, he's an avid video game player who dreams of designing games one day.
MIKE SILL - HALON ENTERTAINMENT
Mike Sill is an Engine Lead for Halon Entertainment. With 11 years of experience using Unreal Engine, and a background in Game Art & 3d modeling, Mike has worked in practically every art department role from 3d Hard Surface and Lighting Artist to World Builder. His current role lands him in the sweet spot of Previs and Postvis Engine Production and R&D. Mike's notable works include: Mass Effect: New Earth, Logan, and more. A native of Rocky River, OH, Mike is also the author of the video series Unreal Engine 4.x Projects. He likes to spend his days as a pinball-karaoke-fencing master wizard. Buy him a drink, and he'll tell you about that time he butt-dialed Adam Boyes.
I currently work for InContext Solutions as a senior engineer using Unity. I wrote the first edition of Unity in Action while working for Synapse Games as a developer of web and mobile games. I've also taught classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Columbia College Chicago.
I've had a long career in game development, but technically only two places I've worked were game companies, including Synapse Games. Before that I spent years as a freelancer doing work for clients like Navteq, Encyclopedia Britannica, and KidzClix. During this time I also created digital artworks in collaboration with Mark Skwarek, showing our work in venues like Famous Accountants gallery in NYC, Boston Cyberarts, ISEA in Ireland, and the Sunshine gallery in Beijing.
HARRIS FOSTER - FINJI
Harris Foster is the Community Manager of the award-winning indie publishing team Finji. With his coming-of-age taking place during the boom of easily accessible online gaming, Harris set off to craft a community for Finji that resembled what he always wanted to see in his favorite online spaces.
Morgan is a Cleveland based costumer, makeup artist, and performer who has been cosplaying for five years. What started off as a hobby evolved into something more as she became hooked on the convention scene and the art of cosplay. Her cosplays serve as a culmination of many different creative ventures including costume design and fabrication, makeup artistry, and acting. A lover of comics, video games, and animation, Morgan strives to create a positive and welcoming environment in the community and share the joy of cosplay with others.