We’re taking GamesBeat Summit 2020 into a digital online-only format. And today, we’re revealing three new speakers for the event: John Smedley, head of Amazon Game Studios in San Diego, California; Glen Schofield, founder of Striking Distance Studios; and Jessica Chobot, host of Expedition X.

We’ve added these speakers to the updated agenda, posted below, for the event which will air on April 28 and April 29 as a virtual conference. If you are interested in attending GamesBeat Summit online, please sign up here.

After careful thought about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we decided not to use centralized studios or physical locations. But we think we can serve our GamesBeat community well with a fully distributed, digital event.

The health and safety of our GamesBeat community, attendees, employees, and sponsors remains our top priority. In this digital event, attendees can watch livestreamed and recorded talks, take part in online networking sessions and digital roundtables, access our gaming partners virtually, and more.

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John Smedley, head of Amazon Game Studios in San Diego

Above: John Smedley, CEO of Daybreak Game Company.

Image Credit: Daybreak

John Smedley has been making video games for more than 30 years, and led Sony Online Entertainment for over 15 years. He joined Amazon in 2017 and leads Amazon’s game development studio based in San Diego, California.

He helped create major online games such as EverQuest, EverQuest II, Planetside 2, Wizardry Online, DC Universe Online, Payday: The Heist, and Star Wars Galaxies. Besides Amazon and Sony Online, Smedley has worked at Knight Technologies, Verant Interactive, and Pixelmage.

Smedley was a speaker at our very first GamesBeat conference in 2009 (talking about Free Realms), and I’m delighted to have him back. He will be taking the stage to talk about mental health for game professionals — an exceedingly important topic right now. He will be joined onstage by Mark Chandler, founder of The International Game Summit on Mental Health, and Eve Crevoshay, executive director of Take This.

Glen Schofield, founder of Striking Distance Studios

Glen Schofield is the founder of Striking Distance Studios in San Ramon, California.

Above: Glen Schofield is the founder of Striking Distance Studios in San Ramon, California.

Image Credit: Striking Distance Studios

During the past year, Glen Schofield has been busy creating Striking Distance Studios, a new triple-A game studio in his hometown of San Ramon, California. He has hired dozens of people and was about to move into a new building when the coronavirus struck. But he’s been rolling with the punches and is busy working from home. (I interviewed him last week about that experience).

Schofield was the cofounder of Sledgehammer Games alongside Michael Condrey. They created games such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: WWII. Before that, they had created Electronic Arts’ Visceral Games studio and created the Dead Space games. He was trained as an artist and is a rare individual in rising through the ranks to become a studio chief. He also worked on games such as Gex, Legacy of Kain, The Lord of the Rings, and 007: From Russia With Love.

Schofield gave a great talk on “The Art of Inspiration” in 2013 at the Dice Summit. I asked him to come up with a sequel to that, more than seven years later. I’m looking forward to what he’ll say. Now he’s working on a game set in the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds universe.

Jessica Chobot, host of Expedition X

Above: Jessica Chobot is host of Expedition X on the Discovery Channel.

Image Credit: Jessica Chobot

Jessica Chobot can currently be seen in the new hit show Expedition X on the Discovery Channel. Previously she covered pop culture news and events as the host for Nerdist News, Nerdist News Talks Back, and Mothership over at ‪‪Nerdist.com‬‬. She’s also made appearances as a judge and as a sideline reporter for BattleBots.

Chobot’s 14 year career has focused on studio productions and event coverage, including the highly successful Nerdist News show, Nerdist News Talks Back, G4TV’s Attack of the Show, X­Play and Proving Ground and various digital programs at IGN. In addition to her studio work, She has hosted live and live-streamed events such as the DICE Awards (where I interviewed her), the GameStop Manager’s Conference, and various esports initiatives.

As a notable and knowledgeable woman in the tech, video game and entertainment industry, Chobot has made appearances as an industry expert for ABC World News, Extra!, Fox News Live, CBS News, and more.

Nika Nour, executive director, IGDA

Above: Nika Nour, executive director, IGDA

Image Credit: IGDA

Chobot will moderate a fireside chat with Nika Nour, executive director of the IGDA Foundation. They will talk about “Diversity and Inclusion: How to create virtual and accessible resources for marginalized communities during a pandemic.”

Event details

GamesBeat Summit Digital will provide the same great content and create digital networking experiences, all available remotely. We’ve very grateful that the overwhelming number of our speakers (which we originally recruited for our physical event) and our sponsors have stayed with us. We hope to live up to their belief in us with our talks around the theme of Dawn of the Next Generation.

We will continue to be proactive in our communication and will follow up with more information about technology platforms and logistics in the coming days. It looks like we’re heading toward an even larger even with about 115 speakers. The schedule is still subject to change. Here’s the agenda.