THIS YEARS AWESOME SPEAKERS
Speaker / Director / Documentarian
Donte Woods-Spikes is a speaker, videographer, and mentor to teens through out the city of Columbus. He is a part time student at Columbus State seeking his degree in social work. He plans to take his educational backround and fuse it with his personal experiences to help improve schools and communities all together. He is now working on starting his own documentary titled A Talk With Our Sons, which revolves around the issues that young males are faced with at school, home, and every day life.
Executive Director – Global Game Jam
Steven Siegel is the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam. She has experience in all sectors, including academia, nonprofits, for-profit, and government. Throughout her time traversing sectors, Steven always came back to games and social impact, with a focus on social entrepreneurship. The end result, was finding a place within the nonprofit game space. Steven holds an MBA in Nonprofit Management and a Masters in Public Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and a B.S. in Game Design from Champlain College.
Jesse Cox is an award-winning entertainer, voice actor, influencer, gamer, and creator of a brand new YouTube Red esports comedy series. Having been in the world of online media and gaming for nearly a decade, his knowledge of the space and willingness to be open about it, has made him a speaker of note at many gaming and industry events.
Justin McElroy is the co-creator and co-host of a bevy of podcasts, including My Brother, My Brother and Me (recently adapted into a TV show by NBC’s Seeso service), The Adventure Zone, Sawbones, Quality Control, Till Death Do Us Blart and The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2. He’s also a co-founder of Vox Media’s gaming site, Polygon. He’s currently trying to get into the movie Trolls 2.
Travis McElroy is a professional podcaster based in Cincinnati, OH. He can be heard on MBMBaM, The Adventure Zone, Shmanners, The Kind Rewind, Trends Like These, Til Death Do Us Blart, The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2, Interrobang, Bunker Buddies and Can I Pet Your Dog. Travis has also worked in professional theatre as both a Technical Director and Actor with The Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. Currently, he is working on getting in Trolls 2.
DB Cooper is a voice actor/dialogue consultant/voice caster/director. She has more slashes between stuff than Jack the Ripper. With a pedigree in musical and dramatic theater, DB has been acting and directing for more than 29 years. Game work includes voice characterizations for Bioshock 2, Syndicate, Firefall, and DC Universe Online; casting and directing for Big Fish and Zynga casual games; and vocal archetype consulting. DB is a staff announcer for CBS Radio, and a voice coach with students worldwide.
Producer – World of Warcraft
Opinion Editor – Polygon
Design Program Manager – Playstation
Starting out practicing animation, Patrick soon discovered his love and passion for production, process, and project management! Over the years he has worked with a wide variety of team types, enabling them to bring their dream experiences to life for players of all types to enjoy. At PlayStation, Patrick collaborates with the console design team working with designers to create the best place to play. Patrick also has extensive experience in the independent gaming scene with Fractal Fox. A small studio that focuses on fostering a learning environment for creatives while building games that bring people together.
Game Developer & Assistant Professor – University of Notre Dame
Jeff Spoonhower is a 15-year veteran of the video game industry. Jeff has worked as a cinematic director, senior animator, senior video editor, and sound designer for Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, 2K Games, and THQ/Deep Silver on projects like Borderlands 2, Bioshock 2, Saints Row 1-4, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Syphon Filter, NFL Street, and many more. Over the past three years, Jeff has been developing an award-winning independent game titled Anew: The Distant Light, which is planned for release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2018. In addition to his career in video game development, Jeff is an assistant professor of film and digital media production at the University of Notre Dame.
Team Lead – Muse Games
Howard Tsao is the Team Lead of Muse Games, an independent game studio located in New York City that exclusively uses Unity3D to develop across desktop and mobile platforms. Their projects include Guns of Icarus, a bad publisher and hurricane survivor, a multiple award winner, and a cross-platform top-seller on Steam. Muse is currently working on an PvE expansion to Guns of Icarus as well as playing around with a kungfu possessed hamster beating up vermin to rid a city high on pollen of crime. Howard also helps lead an indie dev and Unity3D user group in NYC.
Freelance Games Journalist
Justin Michael is relatively new to the scene of of games journalism but is by no means a stranger to video games. From playing Tetris before he could read to spending his allowance at his local laundromat arcade playing Galaga and Joust, Justin has had a life-long fascination with what he considers to be the ultimate form of entertainment media.
Before his life of guide-writing and game reviews he spent five and a half years serving in the United States Army as a Satellite Network Technician — which took him all over the world to places like South Korea, Germany, and Afghanistan.
Lead Artist – Multivarious
Katie (@elentori) is the Senior Concept artist at Multivarious Games and project lead for their upcoming game No mercy. In her free time she streams on Twitch, bringing creatives together and helping the next generation of artists grow.
She works out of Columbus and lives with her cat Nyx, the harbinger of doom and destruction. Currently has more caffeine than blood in her system.
Sarah Sexton is a Technical Evangelist, a dedicated advocate for technology, committed to highlighting strengths and seeing more women and minorities get involved in game development. Her responsibilities at Microsoft include public speaking, writing code, blogging and tweeting about cool services, and interacting with communities in the Midwest. She helps developers find success on Windows platforms through meetups, conferences, university workshops, and game jams. She is also a co-founder of the Voxelles: Chicago’s Women in Game Development. She is most passionate about diversity, inclusion, and communicating clearly.
Ross is an attorney, writer, and gamer. He received his J.D. and LL.M. in intellectual property from the John Marshall Law School. Ross is the founding partner of Loading Law, a Chicago-based video game law firm, and the organizer of the annual Chicago Video Game Law Summit. His first book on video game law will be published in early 2017. Ross also serves as Board President of the VGA Gallery, Board Member of IGDA-Chicago, and Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Creative Arts Committee.
Kevin Kralian is a Senior Developer with a 20+ year career working with companies such as Acclaim, Electronic Arts, ESPN, Microsoft, Sega, Sony, and Zynga. He got his start by programming an Apple II emulator for fun in 1993, which caused him to be recruited into the game development industry and launched his career. His experience spans multiple generations of consoles – from the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis up through XBOX 360 / PS3, and most recently web & mobile platforms. Kevin has worked on over 30 published titles, including highlights such as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Madden Football, and CityVille. He also worked on ESPN’s Emmy award winning augmented reality broadcast technology, cofounded a web start-up, and coauthored multiple patents. He is currently working with Zynga on Social Slot Machines from home in Columbus, Ohio.
Susan Magnani is the President and Founder of Emblazon Games. Emblazon Games is a team of about 10 college students who are in the process of designing the MMO RPG Supermortiant, which will be the first RPG to integrate bio-feeback from a heart-rate monitor, with gameplay in real-time. Magnani is also currently studying Computer Science at Bowling Green State University. She has worked in web development and IT Support, in addition to her video game development experience
Carlee Campbell has been gaming since she was 4 with her Grandma’s old Super Nintendo. She loves playing all sorts of games but has been very active with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm in recent years. Power to equality in gaming!
Henry Elmo Bawden has been a professional in the video game industry since 2006, working on titles such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, “Tale of Despereaux”, and “Knock ‘Em Downs: World’s Fair”. He is currently in charge of the Video Game Art and Animation program at Columbus State Community College and teaches game design, storytelling, drawing, 3D content creation, and game production courses. He also runs his own game development company, Bawden Studio.
Sean Beeson is a composer, producer, owner of Sean Beeson Studio LLC, and Senior Composer at Neoglyphic Entertainment. He has scored hundreds of games, films, and other multimedia projects, and his music has received over 75,000,000 views on YouTube.
Jason Conaway is 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.
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 of the Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery since February 2016. Tom has been in marketing for 8+ years, and regularly works with Chicago startup incubators.