Sam Barlow

Sam Barlow is a BAFTA Award winning game director and writer who has been making games since his cult 1999’s title, Aisle. Barlow has an extensive history of making games that create deep personal connections with their players. With Silent Hill: Shattered Memories he created a classic that psychologically profiled Wii gamers. In 2015 he released Her Story reinventing the FMV genre for the YouTube generation. Barlow is now working for NYC based Interlude using the new medium of interactive streaming video to create the next generation of stories.


Laine Nooney

Laine Nooney is a professional historian of computers and video games, currently writing a social and business history of Sierra On-Line. As an Assistant Professor of Digital Media at Georgia Tech, Nooney travels internationally to speak on the history of personal computing and computer gaming. Her work has been covered by NPR, The Atlantic, and Killscreen, and she is a founding co-editor of ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories, the first peer reviewed journal on the subject, set to launch Spring 2018.


Jennifer Shahade

Jennifer Shahade is an author, chess champion, commentator and poker player. Her books, Play Like a Girl and Chess Bitch, aim to attract more women to chess. She is the Mind Sports Ambassador for PokerStars and a board member at the World Chess Hall of Fame. She has explored the artistic aspects in chess and poker in projects such as hula chess, Roulette Chess, and in co-writing Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess. She graduated with a degree in comparative literature from NYU in 2003.


Max Zolotukhin

Max grew up in Gainesville FL, where he set a route the first day he ever climbed in the summer of 2000. After graduating from the University of Florida in 2007 with a double major in political science and psychology, Max has devoted his life to crafting thought provoking climbing movement in gyms and at competitions across the country. Max considers his greatest indoor climbing successes to be making the US Bouldering Team in 2009, setting for multiple Adult Bouldering National Championships, and most recently the IFSC Bouldering World Cup in Vail Colorado in 2015. On rock, Max has bouldered V14, clipped up 5.14, and is well known for once foolishly trying to boulder a sport route. Aside from climbing with his partner Clara, he also enjoys watching and playing basketball, drinking craft beer, street fasion, and occasionally writing.


Celia Hodent

Celia Hodent is director of User Experience at Epic Games and holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. Celia joined Ubisoft Paris in 2008 to help the editorial team apply neuroscience knowledge to game design. She later worked for Ubisoft Montreal and LucasArts. She joined Epic Games in July 2013 to help guide the studio toward improved user experience practices and develop the studio’s UX strategy and process. Celia is the founder and curator of the Game UX Summit, which launched in Durham NC in May of 2016, hosted by Epic Games.



Dain Saint

Dain Saint is the co-founder of Cipher Prime, an award-winning Philadelphia game studio known for uniquely captivating experiences. As a programmer, musician, writer, and activist, he loves figuring things out and giving other people the tools to do the same.

He says “Philly” a lot, and wonders if you’ve got a problem with that.


Robin Hunicke

Robin Hunicke is the Co-Founder of the independent San Francisco game studio Funomena, building PC, VR, AR and console game titles: Luna, Woorld and Wattam. A game designer and producer by training, she has a background in computer science, fine art and applied game studies. She has been designing, making and teaching about games for over 12 years (Journey, Boom Blox, MySims, TheSims2). An Associate Professor in the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz, she is Director of the Art, Games & Playable Media B.A., founder of the Ludo Lab Center for Games, Play & Social Practice, and principal faculty of the Digital Arts and New Media MFA. She co-organizes the annual Experimental Gameplay Workshop, sits on the PlaySFMOMA, FDG & VRDC advisory boards, and volunteers in support of a variety of causes – including the original Indie Game Jam, Global Game Jam, GDC Game Design Workshop, IGDA Education SIG, Lexus Design Award, Girls Make Games, Anita Borg Foundation, Google Made with Code, HEVGA and the CS For All initiative.


Aleissia Laidacker

Aleissia is a game programmer-designer-producer who has been working as a developer for 16 years and developing games at Ubisoft for 10 of them. She was Lead AI on multiple Assassin’s Creed games. Her passion for design has pushed her teams to think about why we are developing our games rather than just how we develop them. She empowers her teams to think outside of the box through game jams and experimentation. As part of the Diversity Committee at Ubisoft, she mentors kids and gives talks at schools to inspire young girls to pursue careers in tech and games.


Tarn Adams

Tarn Adams is the co-founder of Bay 12 Games. His main project is Dwarf Fortress, a fantasy simulation game which he works on with his brother Zach. The game is distributed free of charge and has developed a strong niche following, but it is also known for its difficult interface and text-based graphics. The brothers work on game design together, while Tarn does most of the programming.




Vi Hart

Vi Hart is a mathemusician and philosopher known primarily for work in mathematical understanding, musical structure, and social justice. Hart has publications in the fields of computational geometry, mathematics and music, mathematical art, and math education, and speaks internationally on a variety of topics. Hart is best known for the film series “Doodling in Math Class”, the stand-alone philosophical work “Twelve Tones,” and as co-creator of “Parable of the Polygons.” Current research focuses on how virtual reality technology can impact human understanding and the human experience.



Steve Pardo

Steve Pardo is a professional game composer and audio designer currently residing in Boston, MA with his wife, Amy, and two kids. He works at the video game studio Harmonix Music Systems as a lead composer/sound designer. He also composes music for games independently and through the audio production house SkewSound. Steve serves as audio lead at Harmonix on titles including the upcoming Rock Band VR for Oculus Rift, and Beat Sports for Apple TV, both titles where his audio prototypes heavily influenced the game’s fundamental game mechanics. His early audio design work is showcased in both the Rock Band and Dance Central franchises. He has composed original music for games including titles such as Grim Dawn (Crate Entertainment), Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix/Disney), Chariot (Frima), The Magic Circle (Question), and Fated (Frima). Steve studied music at the University of Miami, FL, where he received his Bachelor’s in Studio Music and Jazz (2006), and his Master’s in Studio Jazz Writing (2008).



Nik Mikros

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.



Josh DeBonis

Joshua DeBonis is an award-winning game designer and President of BumbleBear Games. 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.





Ken Perlin

Ken Perlin, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at New York University, directs the Media Research Lab, and is a participating faculty member at NYU MAGNET. His research interests include future reality, graphics and animation, user interfaces and education. He received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his noise and turbulence procedural texturing techniques, which are widely used in feature films and television, as well as the 2008 ACM/SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, the TrapCode award for achievement in computer graphics research, the NYC Mayor’s award for excellence in Science and Technology and the Sokol award for outstanding Science faculty at NYU, and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Centre for Digital Media at GNWC, and external examiner for the Interactive Digital Media program at Trinity College. Previously he served on the program committee of the AAAS, was general chair of the UIST2010 conference, directed the NYU Center for Advanced Technology and Games for Learning Institute, and has been a featured artist at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from NYU, and a B.A. in theoretical mathematics from Harvard. Before working at NYU he was Head of Software Development at R/GREENBERG Associates in New York, NY. Prior to that he was the System Architect for computer generated animation at MAGI.