Mike WilsonCo-Founder, Devolver Digital
Mike Wilson is a co-founder of Devolver Digital and Good Shepherd Entertainment, along with several other independent development and publishing companies dating back to when Kurt Cobain was still performing live. He is proud to have spent the entirety of his career in games fighting the good fight for the independent developers' side of the business, and is very happy to have worked with some of the brightest talents on the planet and having helped them birth many of the most beloved franchises in gaming, particularly on the PC, without having ever asking them to compromise creatively or to surrender their IP. Mike's focus at both of the current companies is on helping to build and maintain a culture of kindness, with a new focus on helping indies find paths to their overall wellness on top of creative and financial security, having recognized the unprecedented and often unhealthy levels of isolation, competition, "fan" access, and criticism that these tiny teams and individuals now endure.
Gina JacksonHead of Games, Imaginarium
Silas AdekunleCEO and Co-Founder, Reach Robotics
Silas Adekunle is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Bristol-based tech start-up Reach Robotics; the company behind the world’s first gaming robot, MekaMon. Founded in 2013, Reach Robotics aims to bring high-end robotics and augmented reality to mainstream gaming audiences and provide the tools for future robotics and STEM education.
Caroline MarchalFounder & Creative Director, Interior Night
Caroline’s been working in the video game industry for over 15 years and is passionate about making games and amazed by the incredible experiences this medium can provide. She’s lead the game design team on Heavy Rain and Beyond – Two Souls, and in doing so, has acquired a deep understanding on how story and gameplay should work together to create meaningful and compelling experiences. In 2017, Caroline founded Interior Night, an independent game studio in London specialising in innovative and accessible narrative games.
Andreas GschwariAssociate Creative Director, Splash Damage
Starting out in QA and Production, Andreas has been working in game development since 2000. Andreas’ first big opportunity in Game Design came with the MMO title Age of Conan, since then he’s gathered a vast amount experience in Level and Game design. With a particular interest in human motivation for both players and members of his team, Andreas strives to foster a healthy and fun working environment whilst creating hugely entertaining multiplayer games. Currently Andreas is an Associate Creative Director at Splash Damage and is heading up an industry leading collaboration title with Wargaming.
Phil SageSenior Director - Design & Development, iPlay at Hasbro
Discovering and innovating the world’s best play experiences, Phil’s craft is channelled through building next-generation leaders, new processes and industry-best products. A toy designer and technologist with a passion for driving incremental business, his career talents and curiosity were evident at a young age. Compiling RC car motors, shing wire and batteries into elaborate duct tape bound lawnmowers, his love affair with the most magical of industries has spanned 15+ years. He is constantly innovating, evolving his global philosophy of partnering with the world’s experts and bringing the best opportunities to market which ignite consumers’ creativity and imagination.
Valerie VacateFounder, Collabsco
Valerie Vacante is the founder of Collabsco, a strategy and innovation firm based in Austin, Texas. For over 14 years, Valerie has led cross-functional teams to create meaningful, consumer-centric experiences that connect brands, people and emerging technologies. In a connected world of entertainment, play, living and learning, Valerie has pioneered digital products and experiences across IoT, AR, VR and beyond. Her most recent work is with MERGE, where she focuses on enhancing product and consumer experiences for MERGE’s kid-friendly AR/VR ecosystem. In between driving what’s next in emerging technology, culture and design, Valerie also serves as a member of the SXSW Interactive Innovation Advisory Board, contributing writer to various technology publications and mentor to startups. You can find her at arcades, museums, start-ups and almost anywhere creators are designing the future.
Filippo YacobFounder, Primo Toys
At age 8, Filippo wrote a letter to LEGO, asking for spare manuals, and a job, an experience that would push him to explore the small forces that shape a life, by starting a global early years STEM technologies business, focusing on 21st century readiness, 20 years later. This presentation examines the concept of innovative efficiency, where the output of a creative can have the greatest influence on a human existence by affecting it’s trajectory as close as possible to it’s point of origin, and how to find purpose by thinking “impact first”.
Joshua CromptonProgrammer, Sports Interactive
Joshua Crompton is a programmer with Sports Interactive, playing an important role in developing the studio’s critically-acclaimed match simulation engine. The 'FM match engine' sits at the heart of the Sports Interactive’s Football Manager series which is widely regarded as the world’s leading football management simulation and has achieved repeated critical and commercial success.
LK ShelleyManaging Partner, Affiniti Ventures|AV(M) & IPC
LK Shelley has over 17 years’ international experience in the US, EU and Asia/JP. She participated in and transacted investments from US$5-$900M and exited a couple of ventures of her own. LK Shelley is the Managing Partner at Affiniti Ventures|AV(M) & IPC, collectively it invests in early stage mobile first startup including technology, platforms, digital media and entertainment, content as well as mobile gaming. She holds MBA and MS degrees from MIT.
Tim GoslingLead Campaign AI Programmer, Creative Assembly
Tim joined Creative Assembly during the final months of his PhD in to using Statistical Evolutionary Computation for evolving simple supply chain strategies. Over ten years on he is the Lead Campaign AI Programmer on the multi-award-winning series, Total War, having most recently worked on Total War: WARHAMMER II. Tim leads a dedicated programming team who, in conjunction with the designers and QA staff, develop innovative and practical solutions to the complex challenge that Total War campaigns present.
Billy LangsworthyCo-founder, Mojo Nation
Billy Langsworthy is the co-founder of Mojo Nation, a body for the toy and game design community. The group aims to celebrate the work done by creators in this space, usher new design talent into the industry and help ensure the best ideas don’t just stay ideas. Prior to launching Mojo Nation in 2017, Langsworthy was the editor of toy trade title ToyNews, and before that, worked on the video game trade publication MCV. He’s also far better at ping-pong than he lets on.
Alex FleetwoodFounder & CEO, Sensible Object
As the CEO of Sensible Object, Alex Fleetwood has created one of the most exciting new gaming start-ups in the UK. The firm’s flagship product, Beasts of Balance, is one of a handful of products to be selected for retail in Apple Stores worldwide, and a recent $500k Kickstarter campaign promises a range of exciting expansions launching this year. Backing up their status as one of the most innovative companies in the toy and game space, Sensible Object was one of only nine companies selected by Amazon to participate in the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, and will be launching Voice Originals, the world's first range of voice-augmented tabletop games, later this year.
Mark HogarthDirector - UK Games Talent and Finance CIC
Prior to joining the UK Games Fund Mark spent over a decade in venture capital with a particular focus on working with high growth technology companies. He’s been involved in over 100 transactions that have covered the full funding lifecycle from seed investment through though multiple follow-on rounds, IPO and exit. Mark has served as a non-executive director for several listed and private technology companies and is currently a non-executive director of a leading enterprise IP video company.
Paul DurrantFounder and CEO - UK Games Talent and Finance CIC
Paul founded UK Games Talent and Finance as a Community Interest Company and secured UK Government funding to run the UK Games Fund and Tranzfuser projects so that he could build on everything he'd learned over the previous twenty years of supporting early stage games developers. During that time he pioneered projects such as Dare to be Digital, ProtoPlay and the Prototype Fund. To date, Paul's projects have supported around 300 early-stage games development teams in the UK and internationally, with many more in the pipeline.
Alex AmselFounder, Ownage
Alex is an award winning game developer and blockchain expert. Having run a game development studio for over 15 years, he moved into the blockchain field in late 2012. In that time Alex has been investing in, advising and consulting for a number of start-ups, individuals, and organisations. He co-founded Ownage in order to research how game content could be revolutionised through the use of blockchains. In 2017, this resulted in giving the first ever blockchain talk at the world's largest game developer conference and the external keynote at King's internal conference.
Andy BrayLead AI Programmer, Creative Assembly
Andy started his career at Loughborough University, having achieved a first class degree in Science there. Starting work as a researcher at Loughborough, he then moved on to become a lecturer in programming and AI. Following his time with the university, Andy embarked on his career within the games industry, since accruing over 20 years of experience to date. Andy joined Creative Assembly in 2003, where he now resides as Lead AI/Gameplay Programmer. Andy’s work at the studio encompasses titles including Halo Wars 2, Alien: Isolation, Viking: Battle for Asgard and Spartan: Total Warrior, as well as work on the Total War series.
Jack AttridgeCo-Founder & Creative Director, Flavourworks
Jack Attridge is the co-founder and creative director of Flavourworks: a studio specialising in a revolutionary take on interactive live action drama. Over the past few years Flavourworks has built patent-pending technology from the ground up, and pioneered new approaches to design, storytelling, and production to realise a new marriage between the film and video games industries. Whilst their multi-platform ‘Touch Video’ engine is set to be the foundation for many live action games to come, Jack is currently leading up their first title ‘ERICA’, which is being published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PS4. He previously worked in the games industry over the last 8 years in the fields of sound design and game design across multiple titles. He also has a history in filmmaking, which became the bedrock for the inception of Flavourworks.
Gregory O'DellPresident & CEO, Events DC
Gregory A. O’Dell currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. Events DC owns and/or operates some of the national capital’s most iconic venues, including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and the surrounding Festival Grounds, the non-military functions of the DC Armory, the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square and the Gateway DC events pavilion in the city’s Congress Heights neighborhood. The organization also built and now serves as landlord for Nationals Park, the first LEED-certified major professional sports stadium in the United States.
As president and CEO, Mr. O’Dell oversees Events DC’s three lines of business: Conventions and Meetings, Sports and Entertainment, and Special Events. His primary responsibilities include oversight of the creation and promotion of hospitality, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities that generate economic and community benefits for the residents and businesses of District of Columbia.
Dr Jo Twist OBECEO, Ukie
Jo is CEO of Ukie, the trade body for UK games and interactive entertainment, making the UK the best place in the world to make games. Previously, Jo was Channel 4 Education Commissioning Editor where she commissioned Digital Emmy-winning Battlefront II, free to play browser and iOS games and social media projects. Jo was Multiplatform Commissioner for BBC Entertainment & Switch, BBC Three Multiplatform Channel Editor, and technology reporter for BBC News. She is Deputy Chair of the British Screen Advisory Council, London Tech Ambassador, BAFTA Games Committee member, and sits on a number of boards and advisory groups. In 2016 she was awarded an OBE for services to the creative industries and won the MCV 30 Women in Games award for Outstanding Contribution. She is a Vice President for games and accessibility charity, SpecialEffect and the government’s Sector Champion for Disabilities.
Pam DaltonManaging Director of Media Investments, Oxford Capital
Pam Dalton is the Managing Director of Media Investments at Oxford Capital. She manages a team looking after Oxford Capital’s existing media investments and manages the ongoing strategy in the sector. Pam has over 20 years of experience in the media sector, across television, filmed entertainment, music and video games. She has held a number of senior business affairs roles at leading media companies such as Sky, Xbox, eOne Films, Virgin Media and, most recently CBS Studios International.
Andy Payne is an experienced video games entrepreneur of 33 years and has worked with many of the world’s top studios & publishers, running Mastertronic from 1988 – 2015. He chaired trade body Ukie from 2005-2015 and is still a board member. He is a board advisor at games developer Bossa Studios and a founder of games industry charity, GamesAid, where he is now a Patron, as well as working closely with BAFTA to develop their presence in games. Andy founded mobile & tablet specialist AppyNation and Gambitious, now renamed Good Shepherd, which is the world’s first equity based crowdfunding platform for games and movies. Andy was founder of simulation specialists Just Flight and a VP of games charity, Special Effect. Andy also sits on the Creative Industries Council, which reports directly to DCMS and BEIS, as well as being a founder of the UK Crowdfunding Association. Andy is chair of The British Esports Association and a board adviser to the world’s biggest esports company, ESL.
Natalie GriffithFounder, Identity Spark
Nat Griffith’s lifelong passion for games has led to a 27-year career that's included design, journalism and 15 years of in-house and agency branding, marketing and PR. Taking in time at Codemasters, Official Nintendo Magazine Australia and Blitz Games Studios along the way, Natalie launched Identity Spark (formerly Press Space) in 2013 to provide branding, marketing and communications support to game developers and tech startups. Since then she's worked with a wide array of lone devs and established teams, and clients have included Radiant Worlds, Bossa Games, Ukie, Payload Studios and Evil Twin Artworks. She was also the Event Director of award-winning games festival Backspace, a TEDx speaker, a proud and active ambassador for both SpecialEffect and STEMnet, was listed as one of MCV’s Top 100 Women in Games in 2015 and honoured with their Career Mentor Award for 2017.
Jane HagueHead of Business Development, ExCeL
Jane’s 18 year career in the events industry spans across hotel chains, event management and public relations and she is a former President of the International Live Events Association - UK Chapter. In her her role as Head of Business Development at International Exhibition & Convention Centre, ExCeL London, she is responsible for the growth of the venue’s conference and events division by attracting international business to London. ExCeL delivers 300 events per year attracting 4million visitors and thousands of brands delivering live content through exhibitions, conferences and events. This provides Jane with a unique perspective on the events industry and a great vantage point for creativity and best practice.
George OsbornEvent Director, Gamesforum
George Osborn is the Event Director for the cross platform Gamesforum business conference series, which heads to Seattle in October 2018. He previously worked as a games journalist, earning bylines in Games Industry Biz, The Guardian and Eurogamer, and ran a content marketing agency which served companies across the games industry.
Anna HollinrakeGame Artist
Anna Hollinrake is a game artist, illustrator and 2017 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit. She has worked in studio as a senior artist to define art styles on independent titles such as Lola and the Giant, and created concepts, UI and environments for much loved IPs such as Adventure Time and Magic: The Gathering. Alongside her development work she has contributed to Develop and ImagineFX magazines, and has recently been featured in MCV as a Rising Star. She also speaks on the nature of creativity, the need for greater awareness of mental health, and the importance of strong worldbuilding in games.
Diego Perez-LiebanaLecturer, Queen Mary University of London
Diego Perez-Liebana is a Lecturer in Computer Games and Artificial Intelligence at Queen Mary University of London (UK). He achieved a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Essex (2015). He has published in the domain of Game AI, with interests on Reinforcement Learning and Evolutionary Computation. He organized several AI competitions, such as the Physical Traveling Salesman Problem and the General Video Game AI competitions, held in multiple conferences. He has given lectures about Game Development and Game Artificial Intelligence at the Universities of Essex and Queen Mary, and he has programming experience in the video games industry with titles published for game consoles and PC.
Shahid AhmadFounder, Ultimatum Games
Shahid Ahmad is widely recognised for playing a pivotal role in opening up PlayStation to the development community and transforming its image, securing titles like No Man's Sky, Boundless and Velocity 2X for PlayStation. Shahid recently returned to programming video games solo and is making an unannounced VR game as the founder of Ultimatum Games.