Want the best industry connections and mentors for your game studio, platform or portal?
We are currently wrapping up our Spring class and will have applications for the next class go up in August. However, it never hurts to apply early. Watch this space and follow us on Twitter @GameDojos for coming news!
Mentors, Advisors, and Guests with Game Dojos
Cynthia Woll Executive Producer at EA Mobile recently completed a two-year stint as Creative Director for Disney Mobile, where she guided the design for the critically-acclaimed iPhone game “Where’s My Water?” as well as “Pirates of the Caribbean: Master of the Seas” and “Cars 2 AppMATes, a groundbreaking toy/iPad product. Cynthia has designed mobile games, social games, virtual worlds and reward systems for clients that include Tapulous, MTV, Neopets, DirecTV, AOL, Ultimate Movie Site, Buzznet.com, and Knowledge Adventure. In addition, as founder and CEO of Cul de Sac Studios and Angel City Games, she designed and launched a series of social games for Facebook including Burb Wars and Gossip Town. Prior to founding her own companies, Cynthia served as Executive Producer at Yahoo! Games, Executive Producer at Atari Inc., Sr. Producer at Electronic Arts, Director of Development at Mattel Media, Producer at Disney Interactive, and Executive Producer at Time Warner Interactive. Her published games are a diverse portfolio and include Yahoo! Chess, Barbie Magic Hair Styler, Dungeons & Dragons Online, online Scrabble and Monopoly, ClubWorld, and PopJax Video Trivia. Cynthia will be mentoring on game design and designing in monetization.
Eduardo Baraf Studio Director at Disney Mobile (Palo Alto). Before joining Disney Mobile, he ran Blue Fang Games as its owner and Studio Director. He has previously worked at Atari, and has worked on Sid Meier's Civilization 3, Neverwinter Nights, Unreal Tournament 2004, Driv3r, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, and Terminator 3: The Redemption. He has also been Studio Head at Mind Control Software, overseeing titles including Stomping Grounds, Field Commander, Dimension M: Evolver, and Arrrrrr!, before joining Tabula Digita as Director of Product Management in 2007.
Stephanie Morgan at Rabbit.tv is a serial award-winning producer of social entertainment products, including GodFinger, WordFu, Topple 2, and Star Defense for iOS. She was also Studio Director at Hands-On Mobile (World Poker Tour and Guitar Hero) before her time with ngmoco. Before becoming a game producer, she lived as a professional card player and worked in films, with her first game being Baldur's Gate Mobile at Sorrent (Glu). Those in the industry know her as one of the key designer/producers that made ngmoco the powerhouse it became, including credit for games like We Rule. She is currently working a job that allows her to advise game companies on the side if she likes.
Ken Inagaki Senior Staff Producer at Sony Playstation. Ken entered into the gaming industry in 2005 at EA Canada as a Development Director on FIFA. He leveraged the skills of Japanese and Canadian development teams to turn the franchise around against Konami's market dominating Winning Eleven. He has since released titles on multiple platforms including social and online gaming. Previous to gaming Ken worked in games of a different sort. Starting in Nagano 1998, he designed, developed and operated the results and timing systems for several Olympics including the system used in all Ice Hockey World Championships today. Since joining Sony 4 years ago, Ken has focused efforts on supporting the strong stable of developers associated with Foster City Studio. He currently lives in the Bay Area and as a Canadian asserts to his colleagues that Canada is not America's 51st state. He is an avid gamer and also into cycling and radio controlled cars.
Alex Lee Senior Staff Technical Project Manager at Sony Playstation. Alex has been building games professionally since the mid 90's. With over 20 shipped games, His titles span many platforms and genres. Initially specializing in Artificial Intelligence, Alex now likes to concentrate on how people can effectively create entertainment and products for others to enjoy. Sega brought him to the USA from Eidos UK where upon arriving he set work on the 2K series of sports games. Maxis challenged him to come work on Spore, and he eventually hung up his coding sandals to become lead development director at Maxis working on SimCity. His current role at Sony builds on this as he continues to help studios build great games for the entire PlayStation family. He currently lives in the Bay Area and enjoys trying to retain his accent, photography and Parappa the Rappa (still).
Andrew Ashcraft Freelance Game Designer at Disney Mobile / Game Design Consultant and Owner of Giantdance Game Design. Andy has been designing games professionally - or working directly with game designers - since 1994. He is currently working as a freelance game designer for Disney Mobile, having been involved in making games like TRON, Jelly Car 2, and Toy Story 3 for iOS. For the past 2 years, he has run his game design consultancy agency, Giantsdance Game Design, providing a variety of services including helping connect developers with projects and providing concise evaluations of game design docs and early builds. Before that, he was a Creative Manager at THQ and Senior Game Designer at Sony Santa Monica. He has had a hand in Lock's Quest, God of War II, and Cars 2 AppMATes.
Randy Angle Founder & Game Creator at Hoppsbusch With more than two decades of industry experience under his belt, Randy has been responsible for over 60 games, in every genre, on every imaginable platform, many as Lead Designer and Creative Director. He has a proven ability for game design, engineering, project management, and building teams while operating multiple projects. Games he has developed have won awards, garnered fan appreciation and earned hundreds of millions of dollars for past clients. Brands he has made games for include: Star Trek, LEGO, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Spiderman, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly Odd Parents, Danny Phantom, Jimmy Neutron, Zorro, Deal or No Deal, 1 VS 100 and many original titles.
Josh Rose Founder at Nomic Studios, Inc. Josh is a game design guru with dozens of shipped products under his belt. In his 25 years in the game industry, he has overseen the launch of 28 software products and 22 games, eight of which he designed himself. Josh has assembled international game production teams of over 75 people, for both large and small clients, including ngmoco and Glu Mobile. He has also worked with such top-tier brand properties as Star Wars, Lady Gaga, and the George Romero Dawn of the Dead franchise. Most recently, he has been working in gamification for social/mobile networking applications. An incorrigible entrepreneur, Josh has built several game development and game development outsourcing companies. He founded Lamplighter Studios—an art outsourcing company that he also ran as CEO. After successfully exiting Lamplighter, he co-founded Flying Wisdom Studios, a leading developer of mobile and social games for the iOS and Android platforms. Game genres produced at FWS ranged from casual social/mobile puzzle games to 3-D role playing shooters. FWS credits include multiple Top 10 and Top 25 apps in the App Store. Josh is a frequent speaker on viral product design and a sought after expert for his unique talent at building, leading, and motivating creative teams as well as designing viral, high player-engagement products.
Paul Chen Vice President, Developer Relations at Papaya Mobile Inc.Paul was previously a Project Manager at NVIDIA, a Product Engineer at Spansion, and an Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup.
Raj Pai, CEO of Claritics As CEO and co-founder of Claritics, Raj is pioneering the development of innovative analytics apps that enable deep insights into social and mobile behaviors. He was previously on the executive team at Aster Data, powering big data solutions in social graph analysis, gaming and advertising. He also led the global product management team at Informatica, developed and launched portal solutions for Tibco, and worked on the design team at Intel. Raj has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and a B.Tech in Electrical Engg. from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Jessica Kahn Vice President of Product, Engineering and Operations at Disney Mobile . Jessica's workshop will be on "the nuts and bolts behind building successful games" Jessica leads all engineering, operations and production of Disney Mobile's games, and oversees their Palo Alto and Prague studios. Jessica was the VP of Engineering of Tapulous, a start-up company acquired by DIMG in July 2010. As VP of Engineering, she managed all engineering and operations and drove the strategy and execution behind product development of social games and apps for the iPhone, most notably a #1 iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge, accounting for over a billion games played to-date. Jessica was also an Engineering Manager at Apple, responsible for technologies including Safari RSS and development of collaborative OS features
Dennis Ryan EVP Worldwide Publishing at PopCap Games (now EA) There is no-one more qualified to come and mentor teams for a workshop on growing your game studio than Dennis Ryan. Hired in 2005 as the first business executive Dennis helped grow Popcap from 30 to over 500 employees worldwide. He Helped achieve greater than 40% compounded annual revenue growth over the past six years, and consistently strong profitability for Popcap. In August 2011 Electronic Arts, Inc. acquired PopCap for $750M, and potentially $1.3B based on performance through December 2013. Previously, he was CEO of Allegis Corporation for five years when it pioneered on-demand SaaS for enterprise channel management. He was also CEO at Net-It Software, which developed intranet document management software, and Vice President at EO, Inc, which created early smart phones for AT&T. In 1987, Dennis was a founding team member of Claris Corporation (now FileMaker, Inc.) where he was group manager for information management products, including the ever-popular FileMaker database product line. Prior to Claris, he was a product manager at Apple Computer, Inc.
Josh Elman Principal at Greylock Partners What do Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have in common beside stunning success? If you answered Josh Elman you are correct. Josh served as Program Manager Facebook Platform, Product Manager for Twitter and Senior Product Manager for LinkedIn. Josh is now with Greylock Partners, which funded Facebook, Linkedin and Reddit among others. Obviously one of best platform and product managers in the business, Josh has offered to come and have office hours and/or workshop input to appropriate teams.
Drew Curby Senior Director, Sales & Marketing at IGN. Senior Director, Sales & Marketing at Fox Interactive Media Senior Director, Sales & Marketing at GameSpy Technology Group TBD Mentoring/Workshop. Drew - we still need your official pic & bio not that we don't love you catching fish!
Howard Chen Partner K&L Gates Howard will be advising teams on IP and company formation. Howard is focused on representing international companies - from blue-chip technology clients to small, aggressive startups - doing business in Asia and in the United States. He has gained a reputation as a practical attorney who understands the culture and business objectives of companies when dealing with cross-border transactions and litigations. He has deep knowledge of the business environment in China and strong working relationships with local government officials and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Mr. Chen advises his clients on IP strategies, procurement, licensing negotiation and IP litigation arising from patent, trade secret, copyright, trademark, unfair competition and licensing disputes. Mr. Chen also routinely advises clients on the international aspects of the technology business, including securing IP protections worldwide and establishing joint ventures with overseas partners.
Rob Jagnow CEO Lazy8 Studios . Rob Jagnow knows how to survive and thrive as a bootstrap Indie game studio. As a CEO who understands coding, designing and marketing in the Indie world, Rob will be giving an interactive workshop of practical Indie survival guide tips to our game studios. Whether it be consulting while coding your own games, whatever, Rob has done what it takes. Lazy 8 Studios created the award-winning game Cogs, which while polished and praised, did not gain traction immediately, and it is a testiment to Rob's perseverance and business creativity that he kept expanding to differerent distribution channels until it was a hit, including being in Humble Indie Bundle 3. Currently Rob and Brendan are up to something new at exoresearch.com, we can't wait!
Dave Castelnuovo, PocketGod Series Co-Creator, CEO Bolt Creative Dave is the lead programmer on the mobile game Pocket God series. Dave and Artist Allan Dye founded Bolt Creative in 2001. A few years ago they had a major mobile hit Pocket God. What is even more of a testimoney to their talent, skill and savvy is that they have managed to keep the series fresh and continuously in the iOS charts for years by doing excellent episodic updates. Last time we checked, Pocket God even expanded to a comic book series and is also on Android. Dave will pop in as time permits to answer some questions on making compelling games with smaller teams and designing good episodic updates for nurturing a new IP.
Charles Hudson is a Venture Partner with SoftTech VC and the CEO and Co-Founder of Bionic Panda Games , a mobile games company based in San Francisco, CA . Charles will be teaching teams something that will be valuable throughout their lives which is "Presenting Yourself". Charles is a man of many talents and has excellent business background in social/mobile games. Until February 2010, he was the VP of Business Development for Serious Business, a leading producer of social games. Zynga acquired Serious Business in February of 2010. Prior to Serious Business, Hudson worked at Gaia Interactive, Google, IronPort Systems, and In-Q-Tel. Hudson also founded Third Power LLC, a conference and events company that was acquired by WebMediaBrands (NASDAQ:WEBM). Charles holds an MBA and BA from Stanford University.
Rob Carroll is the Director of Publishing for Tapjoy , where he runs their Android porting fund and manages the publishing activities for the company. In his role with Tapjoy, Rob advises game developers of all sizes in the best practices of monetization, game mechanics and viral distribution for their mobile and social games. Prior to joining the Tapjoy team, Rob worked in the real world as a designer and producer for Zynga and Hive7 on their social games and as a console game producer at LucasArts. Odds are you have played one of his titles, such as Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, Street Racer, Pirates, YoVille, Knighthood, The Sindicate, Youtopia, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Star Wars: Elite Squadron and many others.
Suleman Ali is co-founder and CEO of TinyCo , a San Francisco-based mobile gaming company that has launched seven top-grossing iOS titles including Tiny Village and Tiny Zoo. Previously, he founded social applications start-up Esgut which was acquired by SGN in 2008. Prior to Esgut, Suli worked at Microsoft as an engineer in the Windows division and as a PM on the Windows Home Server product for 3.5 years. He studied Computer Science at Georgia Tech. Suleman is an accomplished successful entrepeneur and will be sharing his knowledge of being an entrepeneur in the game business and in general and giving feedback to teams on their products and companies.
Kevin Dent CEO at Tiswaz Entertainment Kevin knows the ins and outs of dealmaking and has witnessed contracts that both made and destroyed development teams so, naturally that is a topic we will have Kevin advising teams on. Kevin is a ten year veteran from the digital video games space including a stint as Executive Vice President Business Development at Hands on Mobile which was in mobile game content before the big rush. After working on virtually every platform, Kevin set up Tiswaz Entertainment to help start-ups, publishers and investors reach their goals by leveraging his experience and network. Sometimes that means just making an introduction or finding a way to get a deal done, other times he helps PE/VC firms generate deal flow. Kevin started his career in the mobile entertainment space. He currently heads up the IGDA Mobile Special Interest Group. Follow on Twitter @TheKevinDent.
Gus Tai General Partner at Trinity Venture, Board Member at Trion Worlds. Gus is well knowledgeable and respected in on early stage funding of winning companies and has a track record that includes successful game companies such as Trion and PlayFirst. Gus has specialized in funding early stage companies pioneering new market categories. He particularly enjoys getting involved at the time of company formation, working with founders to help build the team and refine the business model. What makes a successful team and stategy and how does Gus spot them? Gus will be coming to mentor the teams at GameDojos about that.
Scott Waugaman has experience as a senior producer/project manager at Zynga, Sony, Lucas Arts and Lionhead Studios. He will be mentoring teams on excecution and production and project managemanet. Scott has been in the games industry for over ten years, with experience across big publishers as well as small startups. He has teams of all sizes, and is passionate about the ability of creative people to work together, with minimal hindrance, on a common goal. You know that bureaucratic manager at your studio who wants you to write reports, attend meetings that aren't about the product, and outsource everything to China? Scott is the opposite of that guy. We look forward to Scott's input to GameDojos teams on all things excecution.
Michael Oiknine is a tried and true entrepreneur with over 15 years experience crafting and selling companies. As the co-founder and COO of Kefta, Inc., a SaaS provider of online behavioral targeting solutions, Michael was instrumental in growing and shaping the business before its acquisition by Acxiom. After earning his MBA from Harvard to complement his MS in Engineering from École Centrale Lyon in France, Michael was the managing director of GiSMo, a mobile payment startup owned by Millicom International Cellular and a consultant with Altis, a consulting firm now owned by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Paris, France. He is currently CEO and cofounder of Apsalar, a company providing Mobile Engagement Management (MEM) solutions to mobile app publishers.
Joshua Burns Associate Director, Products at 6waves. Josh is responsible for development and management of the 6waves product teams who now manage a portfolio of over 75+ apps across multiple platforms and manage over 100+ apps from multiple developers based on licensed IP. Prior to joing 6waves, he was Product Manager and Business Analyst at Electronic Arts, specifically in regards to Pogo.
Nicholas Talarico is the Founder & CEO of 12 Gigs, a social-mobile HTML5 casino gaming engine & network. Prior to starting 12 Gigs, Nick led publisher development for Offerpal (now Tapjoy). Before Offerpal, Nick was an original member of YouWeb (the incubator that gave rise to iSwifter, Pluto Games, Open Feint, Sibblingz, and Crowdstar), where he led development and operation of early social games that held top positions on MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo (remember them?). As President of FORGE, a non-profit organization that works in capacity building with refugee communities in southern Africa, Nick oversaw social media, online branding, and online fundraising. His work helped FORGE become a leader and innovator in online strategies for non-profits and the organization garnered social media awards including the The Jenzabar Foundation’s Social Media Leadership Award and a Facebook Causes Giving Challenge winner.
Alexander Marquez presently resides as the Director of Intel Capital, which seeks out and invests in promising technology companies worldwide. They focus on both established and new technologies that help to develop industry standard solutions, drive global Internet growth, facilitate new usage models, and advance the computing and communications platforms. He is also Board Director at Xfire, Board Observer at Kabam and BlackArrow, and an advisor to the Board of Directors at Gamestop and the Corporate Ventures Group at National Venture Capital Association.
Joseph Gilby is a former executive from the games industry, running Game Development at a Vivendi Universal casual games company, Flipside, and heading Product Development at an international award winning immersive core games company, Looking Glass Studios. Joseph cut his teeth programming advanced mathematical surface algorithms and 3d graphics. He currently serves as Director for the International Game Developers Association / Silicon Valley chapter, and as an angel investor on the Keiretsu Forum’s Software Committee. Joe also personally advises industry startups.
Jerry Petruzzelli has extensive corporate experience with emerging growth companies, public corporations, venture capital, and private equity firms. He has spent more than two decades in Silicon Valley dealing with numerous technology-based companies - from start-ups to Fortune 100 enterprises - in hundreds of venture financing, M&A and licensing transactions. He has represented clients at all stages - from business inception to going public. His clients are involved in all types of high-tech products and services, including online digital media, social networking, gaming, network infrastructure, databases, semiconductor design software, green energy, batteries and fuel cells, medical devices, computers and semiconductors. He also represents consumer product-based organizations.
Tim Chang Managing Director at Mayfield Fund Tim is a proven venture investor and experienced global executive. He invests in the mobile, gaming, digital media and enterprise applications sectors and co-leads Mayfield Fund's investment practice in China. Prior to joining Mayfield Fund, Tim spent five years as a Partner at Norwest Venture Partners. Prior to Norwest, Tim worked for Gabriel Venture Partners where he led their wireless and Asia Pacific practice. Tim began his career in venture capital in 1999 during his time at Stanford Business School as part of the founding team of CTR Ventures, a venture accelerator in Tokyo focused on seed and early-stage mobile consumer applications for the Japanese market. He was named on the 2011 Forbes Midas List of Top 100 Dealmakers, was featured by The Deal as one of five emerging VCs to watch and by the AlwaysON Hollywood IT List recognizing technology leaders in the digital entertainment industry. Tim is known in the game industry for his investments in Playdom, which sold to Disney for up to $763 million, and Ngmoco, which sold to DeNA for as much as $403 million.
Chris Farmer is a Venture Partner at General Catalyst Partners where he focuses on investments in consumer Internet, gaming and mobile and leads the firm's seed investment practice. Chris has been an active investor in the gaming industry and has led investments in Game Closure, Mino Monsters & Launchpad Toys and works closely with the firm’s investments in CCP Games (Eve Online), Big Fish Games & Vostu. Prior to joining General Catalyst Partners, Chris co-founded Ignition Talent Group, a talent acquisition firm focused on scouting out the next generation of entrepreneurs and recruiting the best executive and technical start-up talent. Previously, Chris was a Vice President withBessemer Venture Partners where he led investments in digital media & mobile companies, was a consultant with Bain & Co. and spearheaded the successful turnaround of Skybitz, a wireless services company, where he ledProduct Management, Finance & Business Development. He started his career in the private equity group of Cowen & Company. Chris received a BA in International Relations from Tufts University & the Fletcher School of Diplomacy.
Maha Ibrahim General Partner at Canaan Partners invests in digital media companies with the potential to become global market leaders. Maha is known in the venture industry for her ability to spot technology trends early, foster growth at her portfolio companies through hands-on operational guidance, and achieve profitable exits for entrepreneurs and investors. She joined Canaan in March of 2000 and focuses on digital media, networking and wireless investments. Maha has won numerous industry awards and is frequently invited to speak at digital media conferences. Maha holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Organizational Behavior from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. She currently sits on the boards of 3Crowd, InhaleDigital, Kabam, SenSage and Virsto. Maha is an active member of the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab.
Workshop & Media Partners