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The 2015 IGDA Leadership Summit

Posted By IGDA, Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The International Game Developers Association Leadership Summit commenced late last Tuesday at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington (US). Since many of the Summit's attendees had been involved in either PAX Dev or PAX Prime in the days prior, this event presented a nice second chance for additional professional development, and to do some off the clock socializing with industry peers.

IGDA Seattle Recruiting & Networking EventIGDA Seattle Recruiting & Networking Event

The 2015 Leadership Summit is a new iteration of the IGDA's previous Leadership Forum events that proved very popular when conducted 2007 through 2011. The event is intended to help attendees improve their leadership skills in all areas, not only as company leaders or in management roles but also from the perspective of exhibiting creative leadership.

The conference kicked off on Tuesday night, featuring the IGDA Seattle chapter's latest recruiting event, in additional to light networking for both the recruiting event and Summit attendees. A wide variety of developers attended, ranging from owners of serious games one-man studios to directors of AAA powerhouses. One attendee, Swatee Surve, was excitedly promoting her predictive healthcare application. "The next big trend in gaming is prescribed mental healthcare," Surve noted, painting a picture of the future were psychiatrists use games to discern the needs of patients, like in Ender's Game. Another group of attendees were Universe Builders Studios, who were in process of developing a space startup simulator so entrepreneurs could plan the harvesting of planetary resources. "Neil Degrass Tyson made science cool. We want to be cool, too," they said.

Edwards Kicks Off #LS2015Edwards Kicks Off #LS2015

Wednesday morning arrived accompanied by bagels, coffee, and a welcome message from IGDA Executive Director, Kate Edwards. In it, she thanked Keith Fuller and Tristin Hightower (IGDA Director of Operations) for producing the event, and introduced Jillian Mood, the IGDA's new Partner and Member Relations Manager. Edwards also thanked the event's many sponsors, including the IGDA Foundation, Amazon, Intel, Xbox, and DeVry University. She then noted that the event's schedule would be displayed by means of the Whova application, and that the established Summit Twitter hashtag would be #LS2015. Edwards next reminded attendees of the purpose of IGDA membership, asking them simply, "How will you be remembered for your work in this industry? How did you spend your time? How did you show leadership?"

Then, Summit keynote speaker Kristina Reed kicked off the conference with her lecture titled "No Spectators: How Inclusivity Catalyzes Everything." In it she discussed her long career at the Rhythm & Hughes visual effects and animation studio, and her transition into her Oscar-winning producer role at Disney. "The very act of making everybody feel welcome… increases your chance of creating something great," she noted. She also explained how company models emphasizing communicating with employees and respecting them led to increased quality of life for those individuals, and consequently to greater profit margins. "Only when a person feels absolutely comfortable will they give you their best over and over. And I would submit to you that you should never settle for less." She also revealed some unexpected sources of inspiration, like Burning Man's codified list of values, and never before seen clips from the short films Feast and Paperman, both of which earned her the Oscar award.

Reed was followed by a lecture from Rami Ismail, of the indie development studio Vlambeer. In it, Ismail talked about the "invisible obstacles" that game developers often forget to think about, like disparate access to knowledge around the world. He put it to listeners to attempt to be cognizant of these factors, but also reminded them that some failure would be inevitable. "You can't get all of it right... being visible on a global scale to all sorts of people is an impossible responsibility," noted Ismail. One example he highlighted was the concept of sarcasm, which didn't translate well into many languages. As a result of inevitable barriers like this, often communication between developers will be handicapped. Ismail encouraged his audience to keep trying to explain themselves, however, stating that "People always say 'Show, don't tell,' but actions without words create a terrible context for what you are doing."

Ismail then ceded the stage to Microsoft Studios Global Publishing General Manager Shannon Loftis, who spoke on "Creating Inclusive Content: Inspiring Teams To Do the Right Thing." In it, she described the way that Xbox's new CEO and management chain had allowed it to solve some old issues by approaching them in different ways. She also noted the way that the company had adapted to some new trends in the video game market. Namely, that women now make up more than half of the gaming demographic, and that Black and Hispanic children in North America now play more games on average than their Caucasian counterparts.

Following Loftis' talk, conference attendees were provided with a luxurious lunch buffet, and then returned upstairs to attend panels until 5 p.m. that day. After hours, conference-goers were treated with a fireside chat between Ed Fries, former Vice President of Game Publishing at Microsoft (and former IGDA board member), and Halo-icon Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer at 343 Studios.

The next morning, Summit attendees started the day with a lecture by Scott Crabtree, Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Brain Science. Crabtree described the value of specific gratitude, noting how productive it can be to convey to employees appreciation for their behavior, and the impact that it has had on your business. Later, James Gertzman, CEO and Co-Founder of PlayFab, presented a lecture on "Managing Through Uncertainty." In it, he cautioned leaders not to be too heavy handed. "Don't become a tyrannical micromanager," said Gertzman, "It paralyzes people with fear of failure."

Afterwards, the IGDA again provided a delicious lunch buffet, featuring local delicacies like fresh-caught salmon. While attendees munched on the food, Kate Edwards presented the results of the IGDA's annual Developers Satisfaction Survey, which showed progress in many areas of the field. Edwards also noted that the results of the DSS would be made publicly available at the IGDA's website, located here. Finally, after another round of panels and lectures, the day drew to a close with a series of Pecha Kucha inspired speed-panels, featuring Sheri Graner Ray of Zombie Cat Studios and Marty O'Donnell of Highwire Games, who quipped that "Two heads are supposedly better than one, but really it depends on the heads."

Finally, once the last lecture had ended, Kate Edwards and Keith Fuller gathered Summit attendees together to ask them for candid, immediate feedback. Commenting on the difficulty of soliciting such critique after conference-goers had returned home, they were eager to learn what members really thought of the Leadership Summit. Once attendees had an opportunity to express their opinions, Edwards and Fuller thanked them again for attending, and invited them to return again next year.

The IGDA greatly thanks its sponsors and partners who supported the 2015 IGDA Leadership Summit, including the IGDA Foundation, Amazon Web Services, DeVry University, Intel, Xbox, Rocket Recruiting, Events for Gamers, GamesBeat, Game Recruiter, Washington Interactive Network (WIN), and Women in Games International (WIGI).

About the Author
Author: Ma'idah LashaniPrior to attending law school at UNC Chapel Hill, Ma'idah Lashani spent nearly three years working as Community Manager at The Escapist. Since then, she has worked as a legal intern at both Epic Games and The Law Offices of Ryan P. Morrison. When she's not gallivanting around with her Irish Wolfhound, Onix, Ma'idah also moonlights as the IGDA's Community Liaison.

Tags:  2015  Amazon  Amazon Web Services  DeVry University  Ed Fries  Feast  Happy Brain Science  Highwire Games  IGDA Foundation  IGDA Leadership Summit  IGDA Seattle  Intel  James Gertzman  Jillian Mood  Kate Edwards  Keith Fuller  Kiki Wolfkill  Kristina Reed  ls2015  Marty O'Donnell  Microsoft Studios  Paperman  PlayFab  Rami Ismail  Scott Crabtree  Seattle  Shannon Loftis  Sheri Graner Ray  Swatee Surve  Tristin Hightower  Universe Builders Studios  Vlambeer  Whova  Xbox  Zombie Cat Studios 

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IGDA NC-Triangle Hosts Smash Bros Tournament Benefiting Take This Project

Posted By IGDA, Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2015

IGDA NC-Triangle has been going through a lot of exciting changes recently, including transitioning into a new Board of Directors, rebranding their artwork, and perhaps most importantly, hosting a charity fundraiser to benefit Take This Project.

Dozens of game developers from the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill areas congregated at The Baxter Barcade last week to worship at the church of Super Smash Bros. 32 competitors threw their hats into the ring, entering the sudden death tournament for a chance to win a fabulous cash grand prize. Each tournament entry and raffle ticket cost a mere $2, with half of the proceeds being set aside for Take This, and the other half for the tournament champion.

In classic fashion, at the beginning of the night one of the Nintendo 64 controllers was deemed to be unworthy due to an allegedly “sticky” joystick. An attendee, Louis Si-Wai Ta, generously offered to loan his own controller out for common use so the tournament could be allowed to continue. Louis then went on to win the entire competition, earning the cash prize and embodying the notion of instant karma.

Raffle prizes were entirely donated by local businesses Chapel Hill Comics and Expressions. Prizes included a 12th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver, a signed Brian Posehn poster, a DC One Million Omnibus, and a hardcover copy of Armada, which Ubisoft Community Manager Justin Kruger was delighted to win.

The event was organized, managed, and attended by the new IGDA NC-Triangle Board, headed by the recently appointed Chair, Ma’idah Lashani. Ma’idah is joined by Janelle Bonanno, the Editorial Director of Gaming at DEFY Media, Grant Shonkwiler, the Producer of Fornite at Epic Games, Joe Halper, CEO of Grit Games, and Brandon Huffman, an intellectual property attorney at Hutchison PLLC.

If you’d like to learn more about Take This, which seeks to inform the game developer community about mental health issues, to provide education about mental disorders and mental illness prevention, and to reduce the stigma of mental illness, then visit their website,

About the Author
Author: Ma'idah LashaniPrior to attending law school at UNC Chapel Hill, Ma'idah Lashani spent nearly three years working as Community Manager at The Escapist. Since then, she has worked as a legal intern at both Epic Games and The Law Offices of Ryan P. Morrison. When she's not gallivanting around with her Irish Wolfhound, Onix, Ma'idah also moonlights as the IGDA's Community Liaison.

Tags:  2015  Baxter Barcade  Brandon Huffman  Chapel Hill Comics and Expressions  Grant Shonkwiler  IGDA NC-Triangle  Janelle Bonanno  Joe Halper  Justin Kruger  Louis Si-Wai Ta  Ma'idah Lashani  Super Smash Bros  Take This 

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IGDA @ E3 2015 — That's a Wrap!

Posted By IGDA, Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The game industry converged on Los Angeles in June to once again participate in the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and once again the IGDA was there right in the midst of it! With great thanks to the ESA, the IGDA is provided a booth space in the West Hall lobby area for performing outreach to anyone interested in the organization and our mission. As usual, our Executive Director Kate Edwards was there to meet and greet visitors, hold meetings with partners and studios, with academic institutions, and of course, any IGDA members. The IGDA volunteers had a lot of interaction with attendees and did a great job representing the organization.

On the evening of 17 June, the IGDA held its annual Networking Event in the basement room of the historic Figueroa Hotel. In a relaxing atmosphere with a Moroccan theme (and without any blasting music!) industry professionals gathered to catch up with one another, connect, network and just enjoy a break from the hectic event schedule and exhibition floor. Some attendees have described the IGDA Networking Event as "easily the best evening event at E3", and this year was highlighted by a giveaway of high-end keyboard hardware, thanks to a generous donation by Razer.

The IGDA Scholars also had a great time at E3! Check out the Storify at this link:

If you or a student you know would like to be part of the IGDA Scholars program, there is still time to apply to be a Tokyo Game Show/CEDEC scholar. Applications close Monday, 6th July Japan Standard Time. Apply today at

The IGDA greatly thanks its sponsors who supported our activities at E3 this year, including Intel, Tripwire Interactive, GTL Media, Birthplace Management Group, QED, BluBox Games, Razer, and the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR).

Tags:  2015  birthplace management group  blubox games  e3  gtl media  intel  kate edwards  navgtr  qed  razer  scholars  tripwire interactive 

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Leading by Example: IGDA Melbourne Chapter Lead Giselle Rosman Wins Woman of the Year

Posted By IGDA, Saturday, June 20, 2015


Woman of the Year Award

Giselle RosmanIn a world where heroes are few and far between, and promises are plentiful, it can be easy to lose faith. And yet, even in the most difficult of times, there are always a few guardian angels floating around, reminding us to hold on to hope. One such person is Giselle Rosman, IGDA Melbourne Chapter Leader and the winner of this year's MCV Pacific Woman of the Year award.

Earlier in the year MCV Pacific had unveiled a list of fifty Women in Games, highlighting the most influential females in the industry throughout New Zealand and Australia. There was so much enthusiasm for the venture, however, that the games media publisher opted to expand its list of award nominees to seventy-five. What's more, the nominees for this prize also chose its recipient. When asked, Rosman expressed that the peer-reviewed aspect of the award was particularly meaningful to her. Rosman also commented that she'd never expected to win: "I thought I would be the bridesmaid before the whole thing," she said. In addition to winning Woman of the Year, Rosman was notably a finalist in all four of the award categories.

Having broken into the industry by working in video game education, public service and community relations have always been near and dear to Rosman's heart. "I do the people aspect of things," she said. When the Australian games industry took a turn for the worst back in 2009, a lot of studios had to close up shop, and as a result many local developers found themselves suddenly out of work. It was in this atmosphere that Rosman decided to start really getting involved, feeling that "at the very least people needed to get together at a pub and have a bit of a moan." Thus IGDA Melbourne was reforged, and has since grown to be one of the largest and most active chapters to date, predominantly populated by indie developers.

Crossy Road

Rosman has also been heavily involved in Global Game Jam, and is currently a member of its board. What's really keeping her busy lately, though, is her work as Business Administrator for the indie studio Hipster Whale, creators of the hit mobile game Crossy Road. Much like Rosman's other pursuits, Crossy Road is a free-to-play game that was designed around the concepts of share-worthiness and word-of-mouth promotion. And the strategy seems to be working, too: Crossy Road has been downloaded more than 80 million times since it was first released, and has gone on to win numerous honors throughout the industry as well, including a 2015 Apple Developer Award.

When asked what wisdom she might share with aspiring, new developers, Rosman noted that the business of game production required three essential elements: "To make a game you need the idea, the skill, and the money. If you can't bring any two of those three things to the table then your game isn't likely to get made." In the end, Rosman's advice was simple: Make games, and finish them. "It's easy to start a game" she noted, "but finishing them is the real trick. Even if they're tiny little experiences, if the game is well made and polished then it will get you where you need to go."

If you're interested in keeping up with Rosman's new and exciting exploits then follow her on Twitter @jazzrozz.

About the Author
Author: Ma'idah LashaniPrior to attending law school at UNC Chapel Hill, Ma'idah Lashani spent nearly three years working as Community Manager at The Escapist. Since then, she has worked as a legal intern at both Epic Games and The Law Offices of Ryan P. Morrison. When she's not gallivanting around with her Irish Wolfhound, Onix, Ma'idah also moonlights as the IGDA's Community Liaison.

Tags:  2015  crossy road  giselle  giselle rosman  global game jam  hipster whale  melbourne  rosman 

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