GamesBeat Summit 2020 is coming a little too fast for my taste, but it’s time to start telling people about our cool event that we’re going to stage in Los Angeles at the Two Bit Circus, a “micro-amusement park.” This place combines old-style circus and arcade games with modern virtual reality entertainment in the Arts District.

And we’ve got a bunch of speakers already lined up for the event taking place April 28 and April 29 in downtown Los Angeles. You can register for tickets here under our early-bird pricing at 30% off. You can see 20 of the speakers listed on the event site, and we’ll have 100 speakers by April. But I’ll talk about just a handful of them now to give you a taste.

The first of our many speakers are:

  • Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games
  • Gary Whitta, screenwriter for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and former editor of PC Gamer
  • Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of games at IGN
  • Richard Lemarchand, associate professor at the USC Games program
  • Nika Nour, executive director of International Game Developers Association Foundation
  • David Gardner, cofounder of London Venture Partners
  • Anantha Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, a promoter of games for peace

These are a subset of the speakers, but I like how they show the diversity of the game industry’s ecosystem. They will have their own way of expressing what our theme — the Dawn of a New Generation — means to them.


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It’s a time of change in the game industry. Console makers are moving ahead with their new machines. Cloud gaming efforts like Google Stadia are joining the fray. Apple is driving hard with Apple Arcade, and HBO, Netflix, and others are moving into games. The digital delivery stores are proliferating, giving competition to the old guard like Steam. And AR/VR companies are trying to get off the ground with new tech.

Gaming is moving down parallel paths, finding new ways to turn all of us into gamers. It is an ever-widening circle of opportunity, and our speakers will talk about how to best navigate these transitions to new machines, new markets, new business models, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games

Above: Nicolo Laurent is CEO of Riot Games.

Image Credit: Riot Games

Nicolo Laurent has been a member of the leadership team at Riot Games since joining the company in 2009 and has been Chief Executive Officer of the company since 2017. As CEO, Nicolo oversees strategy, operations, products, and disciplines to ensure Riot delivers the highest quality gaming experience to players around the world.

During his tenure, Riot has seen some great achievements, like the unveiling of a slate of eight games and media projects that go beyond the 10-year-old League of Legends. And Riot has also weathered a diversity crisis related to charges of gender inequity among its employee ranks.

Riot is best known for League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena game and the company’s flagship product. The game was first released in October 2009 and became the most played video game in the world in 2013. As of 2016, League of Legends had more than 100 million monthly active players and was played in more than 175 countries around the world. Riot operates 20+ offices and employs more than 2,500 full time “Rioters.” It still has eight million concurrent daily players.

Prior to joining Riot, Nicolo lead business development and licensing for GOA, the online gaming subsidiary of France Telecom/Orange and one of the leading publishers in Europe. As a lifelong fan of online games, Nicolo was an early believer in the games-as-a-service model and has worked to develop player-focused games since 2004.

Gary Whitta, co-writer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Above: Gary Whitta, screenwriter of Rogue One; A Star Wars Story.

Image Credit: Gary Whitta

Gary Whitta is the former editor-in-chief of PC Gamer magazine and now an award-winning screenwriter best known for the explosive post-apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington and as co-writer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He also co-wrote the Will Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth, and was writer and story consultant on Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, for which he was the co-recipient of a BAFTA award for Best Story.

​Most recently he served as writer on the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels. He also wrote the film adaptations of the Mark Millar comic Starlight and David Petersen’s Mouse Guard for 20th Century Fox, and the David Fisher book The War Magician for StudioCanal and Benedict Cumberbatch. He recently adapted The Last Jedi for Marvel Comics. His first novel, Abomination, is now available, and his original 12-part Image Comics series Oliver is currently in publication.

Born and raised in London, England, Gary currently lives with his wife and daughter in San Francisco. He’ll give us the latest spin on the love-hate relationship between Hollywood and games and between linear and interactive entertainment. He first spoke at our GamesBeat Summit event in 2017.

Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of games at IGN

Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of IGN.

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

Image Credit: IGN

Tina Amini was born and raised in NYC, where she studied media and communication at NYU and started her career in video game journalism. Her 10 years of experience in the field spans both print and digital, and mainstream and enthusiast press coverage. She now resides in San Francisco where she can often be found curled up with her cat and Switch. And she’s the boss at one of the most influential gaming publications in the world. We’ll get her to moderate what is sure to be an interesting session. She also spoke last year.

Anantha Duraiappah, director UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education and Peace

Above: Anantha Duraiappah is director of UNESCO’s MGIEP in India.

Image Credit: UNESCO

Yes, the United Nations is into games. Anantha Duraiappah took the position as inaugural director of the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) based in New Delhi, India in 2014. A science-policy pacesetter, with over 34 years’ experience, he plays a key role in positioning UNESCO MGIEP as a leading global research institute on education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship. In working towards making education inclusive, immersive and interactive across formal, non- formal and informal systems, he is driven by his own personal experience as the father of a dyslexic child and someone who himself didn’t start talking until he was six years old. UNESCO recently launched an event to promote social and emotional learning in children and how to use digital technologies — such as video games — to build more peaceful and sustainable societies.

Duraiappah received his doctorate in economics, specializing in mathematical and computational modelling from the University of Texas in Austin. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed books and journal articles and presently sits on the editorial boards of a number of international peer reviewed journals. He is a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS), a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and a visiting professor at the University Of Tokyo, Japan.

In his current role at UNESCO MGIEP, Duraiappah has played a key role in building multidisciplinary teams and positioning the Institute as a science based research center for building social and emotional learning for Education 2030. He initiated the design and implementation of a unique social and emotional learning based curricula on Global Citizenship across 10 countries, on MGIEP’s indigenously developed artificial intelligence powered learning platform, FramerSpace.

Duraiappah was also instrumental in establishing a Knowledge Partnership with the State Government of Andhra Pradesh, India, which through a legislative act notified the allocation of 100 acres of land and $37 million in seed-funding for the creation of the Intelligent Global Hub for Digital Pedagogies — an innovative education technology ecosystem.

What to expect

We’re honored to have these speakers. They’ll be speaking in fireside chats, panels, and solo talks across our three stages: The Boss Stage (CEO/business talks), The Hero Stage (triple-A game developers and consumer-oriented talks), and The Bonus Stage (special talks).

The event will span all of games. We think that bringing the leaders of the industry together from different sectors helps refine the best thinking, and you often get wisdom from lessons that are hard learned. These kinds of talks and the chance for networking across sectors and industries is what will make our event unique in the crowded conference space.

Our event is going to be an intimate affair. And our location this year once again fits right with our theme. Two Bit Circus is a 40,0000-square-foot playground for all ages, with entertainment that includes escape rooms, virtual reality experiences, a VIP loft, live interactive games, a robot bartender show, and modern versions of carnival games. Our attendees will be able to hear business talks in the Club 101 auditorium and consumer-focused talks in a second hall.

We’ll be taking full advantage of the environment by integrating contests and team play for all to participate in.

We’re still forming our topics around next-generation gaming. The discussions will likely focus on investing in games; mergers and acquisitions and the changes they will bring about; the globalization of games; diversity; esports; the psychology of games; rising regulation; AI’s impact on games; games for peace; the rise of influencers; the convergence of sci-fi, tech, and games; monetization; blockchain and cryptocurrency; and debates on topics such as addiction and loot boxes.

This is our 11th year of GamesBeat events and this year promises to be the best one yet. If you’ve never been to our event, here’s my opening speech at last year’s event. And here are links to the videos for day one and day two. And here’s a summary of a few talks and a story about the Bushnell family that built Two-Bit Circus. Check out those links if you want to see if GamesBeat Summit is for you.

Stay tuned as we announce more great speakers to our first-rate lineup.

Register for GamesBeat 2020 below.

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