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I’m glad that we’re done with recruiting our 124 speakers for our 55 sessions at the GamesBeat Summit 2022 event on April 26-28. And I’m even more pleased that our fourth Women in Gaming breakfast will feature an actual breakfast. That’s because this is the first time we’ve done this in a physical location — at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. (You can sign up here with a 50% off discount code Dean.)

Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games will emcee the day, and she will moderate an off-the-record session at the breakfast about “Engineering Inclusivity.” It will take place from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on April 26. The session is about how to turn inclusivity into an advantage and to propagate it across an entire workplace.

The panel includes Tanya Watson, COO of Bad Robot; Christina Heller, CEO of Metastage; Francisca F. Phillips, global head of belonging and growth at Jam City; and Margaret Wallace, games and metaverse lead at Prasaga. I’m very pleased that Prasaga stepped up and sponsored the breakfast. You can sign up for the Women in Gaming breakfast here.

Andrea Rene is cofounder of What's Good Games.
Andrea Rene is cofounder of What’s Good Games.

While the entire event will celebrate the core of the game industry, GamesBeat Summit 2022 will touch on issues of diversity, mental heath, and inclusion. About 50.4% of our 125 speakers come from diverse backgrounds. We have met that diversity goal for our past three conferences.

Women in video game voice acting

Jennifer Hale voiced Commander Shepard in Mass Effect.

Our sessions will include explorations of diversity in different parts of the industry. We’ll have a panel (online session on April 27 at 1:15 p.m.) on the evolution of acting for video games from the feminine perspective – discussing representation and inclusion of women in games and how the roles have changed and improved over the years.

Julia Bianco Schoeffling will be moderate this panel, and it will feature Cissy Jones (Firewatch’s Delilah), Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard), and Anjali Bhimani (Overwatch’s Symmetra).

Building the mindful metaverse

Nanea Reeves, CEO of Tripp.
Nanea Reeves, CEO of Tripp.

Nanea Reeves is no stranger to both the practice of mindfulness and meditation as well as the technological advancements that have brought forth the metaverse. As CEO of Tripp, she helped create the Tripp virtual reality app, designed to create feelings of calm and awe.

In her talk (April 26 at 1:30 p.m.), she will discuss the future of how metaverse technology can be applied to meditation practices with the goal of building an environment of thoughtful well being by not just embracing technology to get oneself there, but by being at the forefront of it, leveraging advancements to play a major part in personal growth.

Our Visionary Awards

Tammy McDonald talks about her husband Matt, a game developer who died by suicide.
Tammy McDonald of Axis Game Factory/Griffin Gaming Partners.

The GamesBeat Visionary Awards will air on April 27 at 4:35 p.m. We started this award in 2018 as a way to honor game industry leaders who showed real vision for the future. We added the Up and Comer award to honor someone whose accomplishments are ahead of them.

Last year’s awardee for the Visionary Award went to Laura Miele, the chief studios officer at Electronic Arts; and the Up and Comer Award went to Natasha “ZombaeKillz” Zinda, a content creator and streamer.

Tammy McDonald of, Axis Game Factory/Griffin Gaming Partners will once again host our awards. We have a special prize this year and have chose two very special people for the ceremony. We had an industry-wide panel of judges — including three former winners — who picked the winners.

Virtual reception

Meetaverse will host a GamesBeat reception at 5 pm to 7 pm on April 27.

In collaboration with Ivan Lobo’s Meetaverse, the games industry social VR hub, GamesBeat will offer a virtual reception that will let our attendees hang out with other games industry peers “face to face” in VR.

This immersive social event will take place in a brand new venue created just for the GamesBeat Summit in AltspaceVR. Participants will enjoy a program of activities including a guided tour of the cultural exhibition “Architects drawing videogames,” created by Arquia Foundation in collaboration with Meetaverse; and a panel discussion on the potential of games as social networks, featuring the avatars of Dean Takahashi (GamesBeat), Aleissia Laidaker (adviser at The Mill and former director of experience at Magic Leap), and Philip Rosedale, founder of Linden Lab, maker of Second Life. We’ll have other special guests too.

If you wish to participate, make sure you have a working AltspaceVR account before the event and that you have registered your professional information and AltspaceVR user name in the RSVP link here before April 26, 2022. And don’t forget to dress up your avatars.

Paper, dice and digital: How Wizards of The Coast is embracing new platforms

Cynthia Williams is CEO of Wizards of the Coast.
Cynthia Williams is CEO of Wizards of the Coast.

The storied company that grew Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering into a billion-dollar business has been expanding its expertise and base with big moves in digital gaming. Wizards of the Coast President, Cynthia Williams, will discuss the strategy and significant efforts Wizards has been making to enable it to be as successful in video games as it’s been in tabletop dominance. She will speak with Rachel Kaser, reporter for GamesBeat on our in-person day at 11 a.m. on April 26.

Games designed for women

Ariella Lehrer is CEO of Legacy Games.

This session taking place on April 28 at 12:20 p.m. will highlight a fast-growing part of gaming. Games designed for women have been an underserved market for much of the history of games.

But times have changed. Thanks to free-to-play games, 10 times more people have been introduced to gaming, while casual games have grown in importance as mobile games continue to flourish. More women than ever are playing games daily. More game studios are targeting female audiences — or at least paying closer attention to the fact that women represent a huge part of the mainstream game audience. A number of these studios are founded by women.

Wanda Meloni of M2 Research will moderate a panel with Jill Wilson, CEO of Robin Games; Susan Cummings, CEO of Tiny Rebel Games; Julia Palatovska, CEO of Dorian; and Ariella Lehrer, CEO of Legacy Games.

Tencent/Level Infinite and the global games market

Michelle Liu is a vice president at Tencent.
Michelle Liu is a Tencent Global Games CEO.

Our session (April 27 at 4:05 p.m.) includes one of the most powerful women in the games industry — and one who hasn’t had a high profile in the business.

Michelle Liu, Tencent Games Global CEO, joins GamesBeat for the first time to discuss her role in managing Tencent’s games publishing business and its new brand, Level Infinite. She will touch on Tencent’s thoughts on games as a whole, the company’s approach to global publishing, how it works with its diverse group of studios and developer teams and much more. Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games will moderate a talk with her about Tencent’s role in the global gaming business and its new Level Infinite publishing brand.

Shame! Shame! Personal reflections on DEI, #MeToo, and the future of games

Jane Chung Hoffacker is CEO of Incredible Dream.
Jane Chung Hoffacker is CEO of Incredible Dream.

Jane Chung Hoffacker helped us conceive this off-the-record, in-person roundtable on April 26 at noon. Women leaders will share their perspective on four years after the #MeToo movement started in games. What has changed?

What has been effective in bring about more diversity, equity, and inclusion? What changed on a personal level? How do we increase investment in women and minorities in gaming? And how does shame play a role in making us vulnerable and bringing about change? Rachel Kaser, reporter at GamesBeat, will moderate this session with Jane Chung Hoffacker, CEO of Incredible Dream; Kamini Tiwari, vice president of social impact at Humble Bundle; Shail Mehta, CEO of The Last Gameboard; and Namrata Gandhi, chief financial officer at Amazon Games Studio.

Africa’s growing game industry

Kate Kallot is head of emerging areas at Nvidia.

This joyful panel (online session on April 28 at 3 p.m.) will examine the state of gaming and game development in Africa as viewed by some of the region’s most visible game makers. About 60% of the continent’s population is under 25, and disposable incomes are rising. High-speed internet connections are proliferating and Africa will have more than 680 million mobile phone users by 2025. We’ll talk about the frontier of gaming from people who are driving growth.

Kate Kallot, head of emerging areas at Nvidia, will moderate the session with Cordel Robbin-Coker, cofounder and CEO of Carry1st, which raised a $20 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz; Jay Shapiro of Usiku games; and Lual Mayen, CEO of Junub Games/Lual Mayen Foundation.

How leaders can change systems to improve mental health

Swatee Surve is CEO of Litesprite.
Swatee Surve is CEO of Litesprite.

And I’m happy to call out this off-the-record roundtable (11:50 a.m. on April 28) about encouraging the industry leaders to do more for mental health.

For a long time, the solution for mental health challenges amounted to the recommendation that employees administer “self care.” But that doesn’t always work and companies can be more proactive about providing care. Is it about time for a chief wellness officer at companies? And what else can we do to support our employees better? This roundtable will discuss ideas for game companies to do better.

Swatee Surve, CEO of Litesprite, will moderate the session with participation from Mark Chandler, founder of The International Games Summit on Mental Health Awareness; and Raffael “Dr. B” Boccamazzo, clinical director of Take This. These are some very wise people who believe we can improve our safety net in gaming.

Building diversity and equity into the games industry through college

This session at 11:50 a.m. on April 28 will highlight another way to diversity. In the same way that filmmaking is much more than optics and lightning, game making is not limited to coding and animation. Slowly, game dev curriculums are expanding beyond traditional tech skills to incorporate diversity and inclusivity as essential creative tools. How are these values learned? How can learning institutions effectively contribute to a more diverse industry?

Gonzalo Frasca, chief evangelist officer at DragonBox (Kahoot!), will moderate this session. Participants include Gina Jackson OBE, Founder, GameDev Bootcamps; Carolina Cruz-Neira, Professor in Computer Science University of Central Florida; and Jim Huntley, professor of the games program at USC Games. Go Trojans.

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