Episode 23 — Tracy Fullerton, Director at USC Game Innovation Lab
At the dawn of the video game industry, there wasn’t a strong relationship between higher education and gaming. One of the first people to start forging a connection between the two was Tracy Fullerton, an experimental game designer, professor and director emeritus of the USC Games program. Tracy joins the podcast to discuss the process of building USC’s program and research center, how the teaching of game design has evolved over the years, and how the intersection of academics and game development has changed the industry.
About Tracy Fullerton:
Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an experimental game designer and associate professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she directs the Game Innovation Lab. This design research center has produced several of the most influential projects to be released in the emerging field of independent games, including games like Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey — a collaboration with media artist Bill Viola. Tracy is also the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a design textbook in use at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Recent projects include Participation Nation, a game to teach U.S. history and civics, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and developed in collaboration with Activision-Blizzard and KCET; Collegeology, a suite of college preparation games funded by the Department of Education, the USC Provost, and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation; and Walden, a simulation of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment at Walden Pond. Prior to joining USC, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ, Sony Game Show Network’s Inquizition and TBS’s Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Tracy was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive, Creative Director at the interactive film studio Interfilm and a designer at Robert Abel’s early interactive company Synapse. Notable projects include Sony’s Multiplayer Jeopardy! and Multiplayer Wheel of Fortune and MSN’s NetWits. Tracy’s work has received numerous industry honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television and Time Magazine’s Best of the Web.
Episode 22 — Peter Yang, Product Lead at Reddit
The growth of social media and online communities has undoubtedly changed the way companies can interact with their customers. The ability to generate ongoing feedback has given rise to community-based product development, the idea that customers can directly influence the direction of the products they support. Peter Yang has been involved in product development for Twitch and Facebook, and currently heads live audio efforts at Reddit. Join us as Peter touches on the value of building a community, the trends he’s seeing amongst creators and fans, and the future of social audio.
About Peter Yang:
Peter leads live audio efforts at Reddit. Previously, he built creator products for Twitch’s 6M+ streamers and was on the early live video teams at Twitter and Facebook. Peter also writes about creators, community, and crypto in his free time at https://creatoreconomy.so/.
Episode 21 — Piers Kicks, Senior Associate at BITKRAFT
Piers is a Senior Associate at BITKRAFT, where he identifies and evaluates new investment opportunities with a particular focus on the rapidly evolving crypto landscape.
Prior to joining the team, he was a Founding Partner in the investment arm of the leading institutional research firm covering the digital asset market—Delphi Digital. He remains a Venture Partner in the fund to cover the earliest-stage crypto opportunities across NFTs, gaming, and interactive media.
Piers acquired his first bitcoin at 13 years old in exchange for virtual currency in Runescape. He reached a top 100 global position in the videogame Rainbow Six Siege, is a first-generation virtual-reality user, and has grown up immersed in crypto. With a computer science and philosophy background, he leverages his insight into the undercurrents of the web to uncover exceptional opportunities. Piers also runs a podcast called Metaverse Musings where he hosts conversations with founders and investors at the bleeding edge of decentralized technologies.
Episode 20 — Stella Wang, Co-Founder & CEO at Dazzle Rocks
Mobile games have undoubtedly changed over the past decade, with social gaming at the heart of the evolution. Stella Wang is CEO and co-founder at Dazzle Rocks, a mobile game studio focused on making social gaming experiences, including a sandbox MMO experience about exploration, adventure, and collaborating with other players. Join Stella for a deep dive into how mobile games have changed, where they’re headed and how to define and understand the social generation.
About Stella Wang:
Stella is the CEO of Dazzle Rocks, a Helsinki based gaming company. She is a creative visionary in developing social MMO mobile games, having formerly served as Executive Producer at Rovio Entertainment where she developed new games and IP, led R&D teams and (with her Co-Founder, Joonas Jokela) launched new gaming services globally. Stella brings not only the creative vision embedded in the company’s gaming metaverse but also a deep understanding of the differences in gameplay among key Eastern and Western mobile gaming markets.
Episode 19 — Raphael van Lierop, Founder & CEO at Hinterland
Creating a successful original IP is a delicate process. A veteran of the triple-A industry, Raphael van Lierop founded the game studio Hinterland in 2012, creating one of the most successful self-published indie games in recent memory, THE LONG DARK. Raphael discusses everything that goes into cultivating a strong IP while breaking down transmedia trends, identifying the role of content creators in a franchise’s development, and considering a new ecosystem for game developers that offers more publishing opportunities than ever before.
About Raphael van Lierop:
Raphael is the founder and chief creative officer at Hinterland, an independent game developer and IP creator based in Vancouver, BC. After a dozen years working on award-winning franchises in the triple-A industry as a director, producer, designer, and writer, Raphael founded Hinterland in 2012 to create thoughtful, innovative worlds that engage players in the joy of exploration. The studio’s first title, THE LONG DARK, has over 8-million players worldwide and is one of the most successful independently developed and self-published games of the past decade. Hinterland’s model, with THE LONG DARK and it’s new unannounced projects, is to create deeply engaging worlds and IP designed from the ground-up to exist across multiple platforms. Believing that interactivity is at the heart of all future entertainment, Raphael is passionate about original IP creation, bringing experiences to life through ethical and sustainable business practices, and proving it’s possible to lead a team humanely while also producing best-in-class products for your players.
Episode 18 — Anne Gibeault, Creative Director at Phoenix Labs
With over 15 years of game development experience from companies both large (Ubisoft) and small (the self-founded Epsilon Games), Anne Gibeault is well versed in the games industry behind-the-scenes. Anne draws from her role as a female leader in game development and considers whether workplaces are changing, ways to empower the next generation, and some of the trends being seen across the industry.
Episode 17 — Ryan Gill, Cofounder & CEO at Crucible
The explosion of NFT’s and crypto have leaders across every industry thinking about how to explore their applications. The potential within the gaming industry is undeniable, with the explosion of microtransactions, character customisation options and brand collaborations. Ryan Gill is founder of Crucible, a company working on creating tools and communities to prepare for an open metaverse. Ryan joins us to breakdown all things blockchain, their applications in games, and how we can build the bridge between the spaces.
About Ryan Gill:
Ryan is a neo-Polymath, with interests and 10 years experience ranging across technology, business, and impact at the bleeding edge. He is exceptionally knowledgeable about all facets of capital raising and his understanding of the blockchain technology space and crypto-economic design comes from being a part of designing and driving a nine-figure token sale in 2017.
He was formerly acting Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) for Peter H. Diamandis, the founder and executive chairman of companies like XPRIZE and Singularity University.
Prior to starting Crucible, Ryan was in the Los Angeles Venture Capital and Startup world, where he built companies with high-profile partners and made a living translating between founders and investors. Ryan is an operator, he can talk to anyone, and builds real relationships.
Constantly self-educating, Ryan spans many fields and disciplines, and applies them all as co-founder and CEO of Crucible, where he is responsible for driving vision and business strategy. He uses an alignment of relationships and technology to support and grow his team in high impact ways, toward the vision of forging the Open Metaverse.
Episode 16 — Yves Jacquier, Executive Director at Ubisoft Montreal
Any business stands to benefit from having leaders from diverse backgrounds. A perfect example in the games industry is Ubisoft’s Yves Jacquier, who has experience in areas ranging from signal processing to physics to playing in a disco band. For the past 17 years, Yves has led Ubisoft’s academic R&D strategy, including the creation of La Forge – the first lab in the gaming industry dedicated to bridging the gap between academic research and game development. Join us as we discuss Yves’ groundbreaking work and visit the potential of artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual beings and more.
About Yves Jacquier:
From a former life in particle physics and pop-rock music, Yves Jacquier started at Ubisoft in 2004, and filled many positions related with the fast growth of the Studio. Since 2008 he is heading the Production Services Studios and led transformative activities such as Performance capture, biometrics or telemetry.
Yves leads the academic R&D strategy with the creation of a chair in Artificial Intelligence in 2011 and of the first Lab in the gaming industry dedicated to applied academic research: Ubisoft – La Forge.
Episode 15 — Simon Pulman, Partner in CDAS
The convergence of entertainment is becoming increasingly popular, as evidenced by the numerous crossover between video games, television, and movies over the past few years. Simon Pulman is an expert in this area, as an attorney who advises clients throughout the entertainment industry and helps negotiate deals between entertainment properties. Simon shares his thoughts on the difference between the video game and film industries, the future of licensed collaborations in games, and legal rights as we move towards the metaverse.
About Simon Pulman:
Simon N. Pulman is a partner in CDAS’s entertainment group and a transactional attorney primarily counseling clients in entertainment and media law matters, focusing on television, film, and interactive entertainment transactions, including representing digital influencers and esports teams. Simon also acts as outside business affairs for a number of high level television studios and production companies, negotiating all forms of development, production, financing and licensing deals. Simon has significant experience in structuring and negotiating digital distribution agreements and other cutting-edge transactions at the convergence of traditional media and emerging technology platforms, with a special interest in digital video, streaming platforms and SVOD. He has worked on a wide range of high profile and award-winning television and motion picture productions, both scripted and unscripted, including many projects intended for exploitation via High Budget SVOD and AVOD platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Peacock and HBO Max. Variety included Simon in its 2019, 2020 and 2021 “Legal Impact Report,” its 2018 and 2019 “Dealmakers Elite New York” lists, and its 2017 Legal Impact Report “Up Next” list. He is also recognized in Super Lawyers magazine as a “Super Lawyer” in the field of entertainment and sports.
Episode 14 — Ted Price, President & founder of Insomniac Games, Inc
Simply put, Ted Price is a games industry legend. Insomniac Games, which Ted founded in 1994, is known as the creator of some of PlayStation’s most popular IP’s, such as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank, and Resistance, as well as 2018’s award-winning Marvel’s Spider-Man. Ted joins the podcast to discuss a range of topics including Insomniac’s growth, the evolving game development workflow, his own podcast, and more!
About Ted Price:
Ted Price is President and founder of Insomniac Games, Inc. – a videogame developer with offices in Burbank, CA and Durham, NC. In 2019 Insomniac was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Since 1994 Insomniac has created high profile game franchises in the console, VR, AR and mobile spaces. Some of its more popular creations include the Spyro the Dragon series, the Ratchet and Clank series, the Resistance: Fall of Man series, Sunset Overdrive and Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Insomniac’s games have sold over 80 million units worldwide since the company’s inception. Insomniac has also won numerous local, state and national workplace awards for its unique culture.
Price’s responsibilities at Insomniac include directing the company’s strategic planning and helping shape its culture as well as contributing to its projects. Price also serves on the board of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English.
Episode 13 — Mike Pappas, CEO/Co-founder of Modulate
Online voice chat has revolutionized gaming and the way players communicate with one another. While the advancement allows players to interact easier than ever, it’s an ongoing challenge to maintain a safe and respectful community for all users. As CEO/co-founder of Modulate, Mike Pappas is a pioneer in using machine learning to make communication safer and more inclusive. Join us as we identify the biggest hurdles in ensuring respectful online interactions, eliminating toxicity, and the value of AI and voice skins in promoting a positive environment for gamers from all walks of life.
About Mike Pappas:
Mike Pappas is the CEO/Co-founder of Modulate, which uses machine learning to make online voice chat more immersive and inclusive. Mike’s work at Modulate ranges from developing new partnerships within the industry, monitoring trends and new opportunities for Modulate’s unique technology to have a positive impact, and reinforcing an internal and external culture of innovation, respect, and personal growth. Outside of work, his passions include philosophizing about group cultures and dynamics, badly speedrunning platformers, and creating experimental cocktails.
Episode 12 — Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner
Transmedia franchises have grown to dominate the global entertainment industry, but they’re a relatively new phenomenon in the United States and other parts of the world. As founder of Starlight Runner, a leader in transmedia storytelling, Jeff Gomez has played a huge role in this shift. Jeff draws on his experience to discuss the keys to achieving success across different mediums, including comic books, video games, animated series and more. Listen in for a discussion around the importance of designing narratives, building story worlds, and cultivating a fan base as we explore the future of franchise development.
About Jeff Gomez:
Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner, is one of the world’s leading experts in story and narrative design. He works with executives, visionaries, and global leaders to maximize the effectiveness of brand narratives, develop vast fictional story worlds, and produce highly successful transmedia franchises. In entertainment, Jeff has teamed with top creators on such properties as Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, Hot Wheels, Magic: The Gathering, and Spider-Man. He has also written and co-produced hit comic books and graphic novels, video games, animated series, and virtual productions. As a game designer, Jeff has worked on the Halo, Splinter Cell, Need for Speed, and Turok franchises. Jeff is currently serving as a producer on the international relaunch of the Ultraman franchise for Tsuburaya Productions. In the corporate space, Jeff’s brand strategy model Collective Journey has propelled campaigns by Coca-Cola (Happiness Factory) Campbell’s (Pepperidge Farm Goldfish) and Nike (Be Human) to worldwide success. In the government and NGO space, Gomez has also applied Collective Journey modality to geopolitical endeavors, social good, and transmedia population activations in Afghanistan, Mexico, Columbia, Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Episode 11 — Timmu Tōke, CEO of Wolf3D
Avatars have existed in video games for over 40 years. What started as the most basic form of player representation has evolved in unimaginable ways – from hyper-stylized Bitmoji and Mii characters to Fortnite’s incredibly deep library of skins.
Timmu Tõke is the CEO of Wolf3D, the creator of the Ready Player Me cross-game avatar platform. An expert in all things virtual beings, Timmu joins the podcast to discuss the evolution of character customization, future use cases of avatars, and their increasing impact outside the gaming community.
What are players looking for in their skins and avatars? How do you appeal to demands from different audiences? What are the potential applications of avatars across fashion and business? Join us for insights on these topics and much more.
About Timmu Tōke:
Timmu Tõke is the CEO of Wolf3D, the creator of the readyplayer.me cross-game avatar platform. Ready Player Me gives users an interoperable personal avatar that travels with them across many virtual experiences. Wolf3D’s customers are Tencent, Huawei, HTC, Wargaming and Vodafone among many others. Timmu is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree in Tech.
Episode 10 — Aleissia Laidacker, Director of Creative Technology at The Mill
While Extended Reality (“XR”) hasn’t yet taken over the world, completely displacing traditional screens, there are many who feel the transition is inevitable and that the winds of change are already blowing.
Alessia Laidacker has spent the last 5 years in leadership positions in this cutting edge space and this experience, combined with 2 decades in tech and game development, give her some fascinating insight into the future of this exciting trend in entertainment.
Does this experience lead Alessia to think an explosion of XR projects is right around the corner? Tune in to find out.
About Aleissia Laidacker:
Aleissia Laidacker is a Creative Technology Director with over 20 years experience in the Immersive Technology space.
She is a leader in AR/XR, where she was Head of Developer Experience at Magic Leap. Working with numerous partners to find creative and technically innovative ways of pushing the boundaries of interactions and storytelling using Augmented Reality.
Aleissia is currently working with The Mill, leading the Creative Technology teams globally to dream and build impactful experiences using leading-edge technology to bring a new kind of wonder, interaction & depth to audiences. She is also working with Spatial Activations, a creative agency that brings together top-of-class expertise from multiple disciplines to pivot commercial and public spaces towards relevant content that will attract a new generation of audiences.
Episode 9 — Victor Lucas, Founder/CEO at EP Media LTD.
Few people have dug as deeply into the art and craft of making games as Victor Lucas. As the creator and host of Electric Playground, Victor has been covering Games and, more specifically, Game Makers, for almost 25 years. By focusing on the game creators, Victor has developed a unique perspective on the driving forces in the industry over the last 30 years and the trends that are most forcefully shaping it today. From Content Creators to syndicated TV to cloud streaming services, we cover a lot of ground in this discussion that should prove insightful to anyone with an interest in the industry, it’s history and it’s future.
About Victor Lucas:
Creator and host of “The Electric Playground,” Victor Lucas is an Emmy-winning videogame television pioneer. ”The Electric Playground,” hit the airwaves in 1997 and in 2008 became a daily TV series seen around the world. Victor has produced several other TV series including, “Reviews on the Run,” and also partnered with game publishers to produce documentaries for several AAA franchises like “Tomb Raider,” “Metal Gear Solid,” “Fallout” and “Batman: Arkham.” Follow Victor’s work at EPN.tv and YouTube.com/EPNtv
Episode 8 — Kim Pallister, General Manager at Intel
When you think ‘Intel’ you probably think microprocessors. The little pieces of silicon that makes your computer Go. Our guest for this episode, Kim Pallister, is working to change that and help champion all the various ways that Intel participates or shepherds diverse initiatives in gaming across Desktop, Cloud, Mixed Reality and more.
Kim has a unique perspective on and passion for how technologies of today are converging to create the playgrounds of tomorrow and in this chat we touch upon subjects ranging from AI, Cloud, MR, Social Media, Super Powers and beyond.
About Kim Pallister:
Kim Pallister is the General Manager of the Gaming Solutions Team at Intel, where he leads worldwide gaming developer relations and solutions development. Prior to this Kim held numerous roles at Intel, including Chief Segment Architect for Gaming and leading the VR Center of Excellence. Kim has been involved in development of graphics, gaming and immersive technologies for over 25 years, in positions within Intel, Microsoft, and Matrox Graphics.
Episode 7 — Blake Robbins, Partner at Ludlow Ventures
“Kids making videos while playing videogames” have become some of the most influential voices in modern entertainment and the source of admiration and idolization for millions. Join us as we deep dive into the Creator Culture with Blake Robbins, partner at Ludlow Ventures.
Episode 6 — David Usher, Founder & Creative Director, Reimagine AI
What do social media startups, an AI replica of Albert Einstein and being a world famous rock star have in common? We’ll give you a hint – it isn’t cigarettes and booze. Today’s guest is David Usher and we dive deep into the Creative Process, what it shares across all forms of media and entertainment and how it is evolving with the ascension of AI.
Episode 5 — Matthew Ball, Interactive investor and advisor
It’s hard to talk about gaming in 2021 and not come across references to the Metaverse. Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft can all lay claim to be building it (in their own way) with many others trying to get in on the action. Who will be the first to successfully build The Metaverse is a question ripe for discussion and few have spent more time thinking about it than Matthew Ball.
Episode 4 — Reggie Fils-Aimé, Games Industry Exec
Nobody knows more about developing global IPs than Reggie Fils-Aimé, the retired President of Nintendo of America. Having worked on some of gaming’s biggest franchises, Reggie is poised to share his thoughts on how to make an IP appeal to global markets. What is the key to achieving success across a broad audience? How do you avoid fatigue to keep a license fresh and interesting? What are the opportunities and challenges of doing this in the modern day with gaming IPs moving into new mediums?
Episode 3 — Brenda Romero, Game Director, CEO
Game development has obviously evolved over the past 30 years with the advancement of tech and an abundance of innovative tools and platforms. Despite these clear changes – the core fundamentals of play as a human need/pastime have remained largely constant. As a highly successful and respected leader in game development, Brenda Romero offers a unique perspective on how game development has evolved, but also how many core pillars have stayed the same. How do you see game design evolving going forward? Will the way people interact with their games drastically change, and do you always see games existing in the same way we play now?
Episode 2 — Lazlow, Writer/Director
There’s a lot that goes into developing narrative in AAA games, from creating characters, personifying them, and cohesively tying them all together. Few understand this process better than Lazlow Jones, the former Rockstar Games director, producer and writer known for his extensive work on the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Lazlow joins the podcast to discuss his creative process, the impact of new gaming trends, and the future of storytelling in the medium. What’s the most important component of dialogue in games? How has the writer been affected by evolution in game design, and where is narrative headed?
Lazlow worked for nearly 20 years at Rockstar Games as a Director, Producer and Writer, most notably on the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises. He served as co-chair of the Rockstar Games Production department and was responsible for creative writing, in-game audio and video content. Prior to his long tenure at Rockstar he developed, produced and hosted several nationally syndicated radio shows including The Lazlow Show (K-Rock New York; Sirius Satellite Radio) and Lazlow’s Technofile, heard on 150 stations worldwide. Today he is working on several projects, including development of animated and live action TV shows, consulting on narrative content for video game companies, and lots of surfing.
Episode 1 — Neill Blomkamp, Director/Writer
Mastering an artistic vision across diverse audiences is a tough balance, and Neill Blomkamp has successfully navigated this minefield throughout cinema. His storytelling expertise is apparent in movies like District 9, Elysium and Chappie, but Blomkamp has also made many short films, including a trilogy based in the Halo universe in 2007. So our question to Neill is, given his storytelling expertise, has he ever felt the pull to make a video game? And having used game engines a lot for some of his short films, where does he think ‘convergence’ is going? Will we see Hollywood tentpoles made with Unreal/Unity any time soon?
About Neill Blomkamp:
Neill Blomkamp is a film director, producer, screenwriter and animator. He’s best known as the co-writer and director of District 9, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. He’s directed two feature films since (Elysium and Chappie), along with a plethora of short films and commercials. He is from South Africa but is currently based in Vancouver, and directed a trilogy of live-action short films set in the Halo universe in 2007.