Amy Hennig tells good stories. They have engrossing plots, deep characters, and rich backdrops. And that’s one of the reasons the co-creator of games such as Uncharted and Soul Reaver will be speaking at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 conference.

Hennig, an independent writer and director, will join Phil Harrison, vice president at Google and the leader of the company’s Stadia cloud-gaming platform, in a fireside chat. They will talk about the possibilities for games and interactive storytelling that arise from technological advances such as cloud gaming. Hennig brings a storyteller’s perspective on what has been a technology story so far.

Phil Harrison is vice president at Google in charge of Stadia.

Above: Phil Harrison is vice president at Google in charge of Stadia.

Image Credit: Google

Hennig is one of nearly 100 speakers who will join us at Two Bit Circus, a micro-amusement park in downtown Los Angeles. She is also one of 14 women speaking at our conference. About 20 of our speakers come from racially diverse backgrounds. That’s a small percentage, and we are cognizant of that.

But it reflects the fact that the leadership of the gaming industry is not as diverse as the population. And we strive to do better and bring fresh faces that we haven’t seen before. We find that anyone from any background can inspire the crowd, particularly people like Lual Mayen, who spent 22 of his 24 years of life as a refugee and is now a game developer.

Above: Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of IGN.

Image Credit: IGN

One of those is Tina Amini, editor in chief of IGN, who is speaking for the first time as a moderator for a fireside chat with Danny Bilson, head of USC Games. They are two of more than 60 speakers who have never spoken before at one of our GamesBeat events, which have been going on for more than a decade. It reminds me of those scenes in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, where you can solve a puzzle by looking at something from a different perspective.

Check out the agenda. Our theme is “Building gaming communities” across two days. The code GBS19LASTCHANCE will unlock a 15 percent discount on your registration.

Danny Bilson is the head of USC Games.

Above: Danny Bilson is the head of USC Games.

Image Credit: IMGD

Amini and Bilson will talk about the future of games and learning. Bilson, who was recently named the head of USC Games, has been on the faculty of the USC School of Cinematic Arts since 2005, where he has taught screenwriting and narrative design, and he currently leads the Advanced Games Project. Bilson recently told me that he plans to host industry workshops where students design and work on commercial games with industry partners, build a robust job placement initiative for graduating students, create and design of games for health, experiment with board game design, explore the creation of theme parks, and delve further into esports.

Stanley Pierre-Louis says medical studies do not support a case classifying video game addiction as a health risk.

Above: Stanley Pierre-Louis says medical studies do not support a case classifying video game addiction as a health risk.

Image Credit: DICE Summit

And I’m also pleased to announce that Stanley Pierre-Louis, the acting head of the Entertainment Software Association, will speak at GamesBeat Summit on the topic of “Video games, screen time, and parents.” Keisha Howard, founder of Sugar Gamers, will moderate the talk. They’ll wade into the delicate subject of game addiction, which has implications on the global level as the World Health Organization contemplates classifying video game addiction as a medical condition. It’s also a topic that causes great angst among parents.

Keisha Howard and Paula Angela Escuadra speak on the diversity panel at GamesBeat Summit 2018.

Above: Keisha Howard and Paula Angela Escuadra speak on the diversity panel at GamesBeat Summit 2018.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

I started thinking about diversity in the media and coverage back in the 1990s, in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots. And I’m happy to say I’m still thinking about it today. Diversity is a long struggle and one that requires an iron will. We’ve had diversity sessions for many years at our GamesBeat conferences.

But I’m also dismayed at the lack of progress and the backward movements we’ve seen in the past couple of years. At GamesBeat Summit, we’re doing what we can to make sure all voices are heard. And yeah, whatever you’ve heard about all the Gamergate fuss and the things our president says, diversity still matters. It leads to better games, better game coverage, a better industry, and better events. It’s like that wonderful Microsoft commercial about the accessible game controller: When everybody plays, we all win.

We do, by the way, have a few more people we would like to fly out for our event. They can’t afford to come themselves. If you’d like to pay for their accommodations and entry into the event, please let us know. Send me an email at dean at venturebeat dot com.