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As the March 24 GamesBeat 2009 games conference draws near, we’re unveiling a new list of speakers. We’re proud to say that some of the biggest names in the gaming world are joining us for the program. Tickets are still available.
Chris Taylor (right), founder of Gas Powered Games, will share the stage with me as co-emcee of the event. We picked Taylor because he has been an advocate for creativity in games and because he’s one of the industry’s few stand-up comedians. Taylor is a game pioneer who has created hits like Total Annihilation, Dungeon Siege, and Supreme Commander. Those games have sold millions of copies, reaped numerous awards, and garnered critical acclaim. He is currently working on the game Demigod.
Our speakers include Jenova Chen (left), founder of thatgamecompany, which made Sony’s popular PlayStation Network game, Flower. Chen’s stunningly beautiful title conveys the story of a flower without using dialogue. Guided by Crispy Gamer editor in chief John Keefer, Chen will be speaking about what it will be like to play a game 10 years from now.
Also speaking on that subject will be Elan Lee (right), founder of Fourth Wall Studios, which is working on ways to popularize alternate reality games that mix real life and fantasy. Lee was a co-founder of 42 Entertainment and eDoc Laundry, two companies that have challenged the very definition of gaming. Michel Tombroff, chief executive of Softkinetic, will also appear. Softkinetic is making software for a new gesture-based user interface for games.
Our social gaming breakout session will include some of the brightest stars in the business of monetizing social games on platforms such as Facebook. The panel will be moderated by the sharp-witted Susan Wu, chief executive at game developer Ohai and former partner at Charles River Ventures.
On her panel will be Shawn Fanning (left), founder of Napster and Rupture. At Napster, Fanning was known for single-handedly disrupting the music industry’s business model, making CDs obsolete with peer-to-peer music sharing technology. Fanning created Rupture as a social network for gamers. He sold it last year to Electronic Arts for $15 million and is now head of EA Rupture.
Other movers and shakers on the panel include Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga; Shervin Pishevar, chief executive of Social Gaming Network, and Dennis Fong, chief executive of Raptr, another gamer’s social network.
A couple of the most opinionated game veterans I’ve ever met will be on a panel about taking on big companies: Alex St. John, co-creator of Microsoft’s DirectX technology and chairman of Wild Tangent, and entrepreneur Bernie Stolar (right), chairman of Vivo Products and former top executive at places such as Adscape, the in-game ad company bought by Google, as well as Sony and Sega.
I’m also very excited about one of our new panels on how mass market companies view video games and what game companies can do to reach greater mass markets. Matt Richtel, a journalist at the New York Times, will moderate the panel, which so far includes Graham Hopper, head of Disney Interactive Studios; Ira Rubenstein, vice president of interactive for Marvel; and Dave Williams, senior vice president of Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Group.
I’m going to moderate a panel on game platforms. The speakers include Neil Young, chief executive of iPhone game publisher ngmoco; Jason Oberfest, head of games at MySpace, Gareth Davis, platform program manager for games at Facebook, Gregg Sauter of Nokia N-Gage; and Sony PlayStation Network U.S. head Susan Panico (left).
John Rizzo, chief executive of Zeebo, will be one of the newsmakers speaking at GamesBeat. He’ll be there to talk about Zeebo’s new game console, based on Qualcomm cell phone chips. Zeebo will make a low-cost console alternative for gamers in the developing world. It’s yet another example of a startup taking on giants.
Our casual games breakout session is taking shape. Joel Brodie, head of casual games review site Gamezebo, will moderate the panel. Speakers include Alex Terry of NeoEdge Networks, Jameson Hsu of Mochi Media; Nick Fortugno, chief creative officer at Rebel Monkey, and Karl Mehta, CEO of Playspan.
New additions to our opening game investors panel are Tim Chang (right), a partner at venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners; and Mark Friedler, chief executive of Worlds and Games and founder of GameDaily. Friedler will moderate the game investor panel, which also includes previously announced speakers Mitch Lasky of Benchmark Capital and Gus Tai of Trinity Ventures.
Other speakers include Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at Nvidia; Richard Huddy, director of game developer relations at Advanced Micro Devices; Eric Goldberg of Crossover Technologies; Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets; and David Cole, analyst at DFC Intelligence. One of the new judges for our startup competition is Kevin Bachus, co-creator of Microsoft’s Xbox game console.
There are many more speakers as well, some who we’ve confirmed before and others who have yet to give us the final OK. Check out the official GamesBeat 2009 site for a better overview. Last week, we listed our major speakers: John Smedley of Sony Online Entertainment; Seamus Blackley of Creative Artists Agency, who will be interviewed by Spike TV’s Geoff Keighley; and baseball star Curt Schilling, chairman of 38 Studios, who will be interviewed by Adam Sessler, co-host of G4 TV’s X-Play cable TV show.
As a reminder, GamesBeat 2009 will be held on Tuesday, March 24, the day before the main Game Developers Conference begins. It will be conveniently located a couple of miles away from the GDC at the Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St., in San Francisco.
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