Industry and Entrepreneurs Roundtable: Growing Computer and Video Game Development in New York
Come be part of a public conversation about how to make NYC an even better place to make games. The day's two roundtables include developers ranging from indies to top-five game companies, game-focused non-profits, incubator and VC reps, and others interested in seeing the NYC game industry thrive and grow. They'll open the conversation, but you'll get a chance to add your thoughts and ask questions.
This is your chance to give input to lawmakers, to help set policy to make NYC as game developer friendly as possible. How can State government help the NYC game industry thrive? Tax breaks? Other incentives? What will make NYC the best place in the world for you to make your games?
Panels include speakers from Take-Two, Avalanche, Microsoft Research, General Assembly, Games for Change, Kill Screen, Arkadium, Kickstarter, and many more NYC game-interested groups. A light breakfast and lunch will be served.
See below for a full list of roundatble participants.
Register using the EventBrite link on this page (Registration is closed as of 9/18)
Hosted in partnership with:
PROGRAM OF EVENTS:
Registration and Refreshments
9:00 – 9:30am
Welcome & Introductions
• Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, President, NYU-Poly and Dean of Engineering at NYU
• Senator Martin Golden, Chair: The Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship
9:30 – 10am
State of the Industry Presentations
10am – 12 noon
12 noon – 1:45pm
Working Lunch – Presentations & Tour
2 – 2:30pm
Introduction of Participants
2:30 – 4:30pm
Senator Martin J. Golden represents Brooklyn's 22nd Senate District, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park and Midwood. First elected in 2002, he has established himself as one of the most influential lawmakers in the City and State of New York, authoring over 75 laws most notably in the areas of public safety, tax cuts, economic development, and senior citizen issues.
Senator Golden is Chair of the Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship, an 11-member bi-partisan committee that focuses on expanding the state’s entrepreneurial culture, creating economic opportunities and economic development programs. He has had a long history in science, technological, and economic development issues facing New York State. In the words of the resolution creating the committee, its charge is to “provide outreach to and interaction with private and public organizations that provide incubation, innovation, and entrepreneurship programs, and, make recommendations on efforts to strengthen entrepreneurial and job creation including related legislative proposals and resolutions before the State Legislature in such areas, all with the aim of growing the spirit of enterprise and innovation in New York.”
Facilitators: Katherine Isbister and Bob Herz
Katherine Isbister, Associate Professor, NYU
Katherine Isbister has a joint appointment between the NYU Game Center and the NYU-Poly Computer Science Department, where she is Research Director of the Game Innovation Lab. Her research focuses on designing games that heighten social and emotional connections for players, toward innovating design theory and practice. Isbister's book on game character design—Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach—was nominated for a Game Developer Magazine Frontline award. Her edited volume, Game Usability, brings together best practices in game playtesting and user research. Isbister's research has been covered by many mainstream outlets including Wired, Scientific American, Forbes, and NPR, as well as by game press including Kotaku, Kill Screen, and EGM.
Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Take-Two
Strauss Zelnick, a partner in ZelnickMedia since 2001, became Chairman of Take-Two in March 2007 and Chief Executive Offi cer in January 2011. Mr. Zelnick is currently Chairman of ITN Networks and serves on the boards of directors of Naylor LLC, Alloy, Inc. and Starwood Property Trust, Inc. In August 2013, Mr. Zelnick was elected Vice Chairman of the Entertainment Software Association, the interactive entertainment industry’s trade association. Prior to forming ZelnickMedia, Mr. Zelnick was President and Chief Executive Officer of BMG Entertainment, a $4.7 billion music and entertainment company. Mr. Zelnick’s appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of BMG Entertainment followed his tenure as President and Chief Executive Offi cer of the company’s North American business unit from 1994 through 1998. Before joining BMG
Entertainment, Mr. Zelnick was President and Chief Executive Officer of Crystal Dynamics, a leading producer and distributor of interactive game software. Prior to that, he spent four years as President and Chief Operating Officer of 20th Century Fox, where he managed all aspects of the worldwide motion picture and distribution business.
Tom Akel, MTV Games
Tom Akel is the Executive Producer/Editor of MTV Digital, where he heads production and editorial of Shows, Games, and Comics at MTV. Prior to joining MTV, Akel lead mobile and broadband for Comedy Central and Spike TV, where he developed animated series and show extensions including Comedy Central’s Telly-Award-winning Samurai Love God, founded the Spike Mobile Video Game Awards, produced and directed Robert Kirkman’s Battle Pope, wrote and directed mobile content for celebrities from Stan Lee to Hulk Hogan, and produced dozens of games and apps including the award-winning South Park 10: The Game. For several years Tom taught in the M.F.A. program at Parsons School of Design. His courses include Mobile Game Design, Games, Mods, & Code, Games 101, Level Design, Unreal Development and Game Production. Tom's indie line of comics, Heroverse, saw its first series collected last year by Arcana Studios, "Anywhere: Foil Collector's Edition Because Regular Editions Are For Suckers" with foreword by Stan Lee. Tom studied Film and Marketing at Long Island University and holds an M.F.A. in Design + Technology from Parsons School of Design.
Eric Gertler, NYC EDC
Eric Gertler is currently serving as Executive Vice President for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Managing Director, Center for Economic Transformation (CET) for the City of New York. The CET aims to develop New York City’s major business sectors by implementing policy and programmatic initiatives that address current issues faced by each industry, create good jobs, and promote entrepreneurship and economic diversification across the five boroughs. Prior to his role at the NYCEDC, Eric served in leadership roles at a number of technology companies, including Altruik, PrimeAxis Media, and Privista. Prior to these initiatives, Eric worked in the magazine and newspaper industries, with his last post being the President of the three magazines U.S. News & World Report, Fast Company and The Atlantic Monthly. He is also the author of the book Prying Eyes: Protect Your Privacy From People Who Sell To You, Snoop on You, or Steal From You (published by Random House). He is a graduate of Brown University and obtained his J.D. from American University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. Eric is a member of Young Presidents Organization (“YPO”) and recently served as the Chair for the New York Metro chapter.
David Grijns, General Manager, Avalanche Studios New York
Since entering the videogame industry in 1996, Grijns has held executive positions with Activision, Inc. (ATVI) as Director of Production and Acquisitions, MTV Games, MTV Networks (VIA) as Executive Producer and Director of Business Development, High Impact Games as Executive Producer and Director of Business Development and Atari, Inc. as Director of Business Development. David acquired and/or produced over 40 titles during his eight year tenure at Activision and was a key member of the executive team responsible for growing the company’s publishing and distribution revenues from $60M in 1996 to nearly $1B in 2004. In addition, he
helped establish Activision’s European and Japanese studio operations and acted as Creative Director and Executive Producer on many of the company’s biggest IPs including Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the Quake franchise. In June 2011, David launched Avalanche Studios’ North American operations in New York City. Avalanche Studios is a privately held, independent game development company headquarterd in Stockholm, Sweden. The company’s 240 staff are currently hard at work on two current and next generation console and PC games for some of the world’s largest entertainment companies. Avalanche believes that New York City is not only the greatest city on earth but also the best city in which to establish a world class AAA videogame development studio.
Rob Grossberg, TreSensa
Rob Grossberg, the CEO of the NYC-based mobile web gaming company TreSensa, combines over 15 years of digital marketing and business development/operations experience. A corporate lawyer by trade, Rob spent almost eight years at DoubleClick, first as Deputy General Counsel and then as VP of Sales Operations. After leaving DoubleClick, Rob focused on video advertising, becoming General Manager of Visible World’s agency-facing, dynamic television ad customization product. In 2007, Rob combined his digital advertising and video experience to become SVP of Business Operations and Strategy at Tremor Video, one of the leaders in digital video advertising. At Tremor, Rob helped scale operations and guide the business through multiple growth inflection points. Rob left Tremor in 2011 to start TreSensa and get into mobile gaming. Rob has a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from NYU School of Law.
Brad Hargreaves, General Assembly
Brad Hargreaves is a co-founder of General Assembly, an urban campus for technology, design and entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur Brad has created products and companies that bridge online and offline worlds including GoCrossCampus, Aloysius Properties and General Assembly. Prior to co-founding General Assembly, Brad was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Tipping Point Partners, an early-stage investor and incubator in Tribeca. Brad attended Yale, where he co-founded Yale’s first university-run entrepreneurship initiative. He writes about entrepreneurship, New York City and life at http://bhargreaves.com.
David Hochman, Technology Consultant
David Hochman is a consultant in technology-based economic development. He is a long-time affiliate of Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice, and he also maintains an independent practice through which he serves as Executive Director of the Business Incubator Association of New York State. He is a board member of the New York State Economic Development Council, co-heading an innovation section. Earlier in his career, he served as Deputy Director of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. In the early 1980s, he co-founded and served as COO of an angel-backed software venture that was an early entrant in the personal-computer industry, and one of the first software firms to position itself as a content provider based in the New York City publishing community. He exited that venture by sale to a venture capitalist rolling up similar companies. He holds an A.B. in the history of science from Princeton University and an MBA in finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business. More at http://tbed.org or http://bianys.com.
Erik Huey, Entertainment Software Association
Erik Huey is the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). In this role, he oversees the entire federal and state government relations operations of ESA, the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. For nearly two decades, Huey has contributed to policy debates involving issues such as protecting domestic film production, combating digital theft of copyrighted content, expanding broadband deployment, and preserving artists’ First Amendment rights. In 2007, The Hollywood Reporter named him one of the “100 Most Influential Media & Entertainment Lawyers” in its annual “Power Lawyer” issue.
Kati London, Microsoft Research
For her pioneering work in real world games and networked devices Kati London was named one of the top "35 Innovators under 35" by MIT's Technology Review magazine as well as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company magazine. Kati is currently Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research's FUSE Labs - based in NYC. Previously, as Executive Producer of Zynga New York, Kati led efforts to integrate news and pop culture directly into gameplay. As Vice President at Area/Code games she created cross platform products that invented new kinds of play, be it synch to tv broadcast, MMOs that integrate traffic data, or casual games that use telemetry data from sharks in the Pacific Ocean. Her work has been covered by The New York Times, Wired, National Geographic, and the BBC, among others. Her personal work is represented in the Design Collection of The Museum of Modern Art. In 2012 she served as the Innovator-in-Residence at USC's Annenberg School, where she led workshops in Design Patterns for Autonomous Objects.
Frank Rimalovski, Managing Director, NYU Innovation Venture Fund
Frank Rimalovski is managing director of the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, a $20 million seed-stage venture fund formed exclusively to invest in startups founded by and/or built upon technologies and intellectual property developed by NYU students, faculty and researchers. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, which was formed to create a pan-University entrepreneurial ecosystem to encourage and support the development of new ventures founded by NYU students, faculty and researchers. The Institute leads the creation of a network of entrepreneurial programs, events, and resources to inspire, educate, accelerate and connect entrepreneurs within NYU, as well as with the larger startup ecosystem.
Joost Van Dreunen, CEO, SuperData
Joost is fascinated by games and human behavior. His research explores video games as an entryway to contemporary media culture. After completing a Master’s degree in Media studies in Amsterdam, he continued his research in New York. There he was project manager on a landmark investigation of three decades of ownership trends in the American media landscape, the results of which were part of a congressional testimony, a series of articles and a book. In 2010 he received his doctorate from Columbia University for his dissertation titled “Social Gaming and Communicative Exchange.” Joost currently teaches two courses at New York University: Video Games: Culture & Industry at Steinhardt and Business Fundamentals for Game Designers at the NYU Game Center. In addition to his academic pursuits, Joost is also founder and CEO of an online games research firm called SuperData. In early 2010 the company secured multi-year seed funding, and today employs seven people. Clients include publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision/Blizzard, SEGA, Wargaming.net, Zynga and Pokémon as well as all the major Wall street firms. Joost lives in the East Village with his wife, Janelle, and son, Maximus.
Kenny Rosenblatt, Arkadium
Kenny Rosenblatt is the CEO and Co-Founder of Arkadium. He leads the company in its mission to be the #1 game studio in the world by driving the vision behind hit cross platform game development, making Arkadium a top place to work, building recognizable brands, and ensuring the company is consistently profitable. Since Arkadium’s inception in 2001, Kenny has helped to develop game solutions for clients and brands such as Microsoft, CBS, Caesars, Mattel, Hearst, and AARP. Kenny is responsible for driving the long-term strategy of Arkadium and guiding the vision behind the technology platform that Arkadium’s games are built on. His extensive experience in the games industry, along with his entrepreneurial spirit has helped him always stay at the cutting edge of technology. Prior to founding Arkadium, Kenny was Vice President of Emerging Technologies at On2, a broadband media company, where he developed innovative Video on Demand systems for iTV and Set Top Boxes.
Wade Tinney, Large Animal Games
Wade has been designing and developing games since 1996. He founded Large Animal Games with Josh Welber in 2001. He has led the NYC Chapter of the International Game Developers Association since 2006. Large Animal is focused on publishing games that connect friends on mobile devices and social networks. Their Toga platform provides a complete tool set for running games as a service across multiple platforms. Recent titles include Color Zen (iOS/Android), Nomsters (iOS), PhotoBlitz (iOS/Facebook), and Universal Studios Film Mogul (Facebook). For more information about Large Animal, please visit http://www.largeanimal.com or connect with Wade on Twitter at http://twitter.com/largeanimal
Facilitators: Frank Lantz and Bob Herz
Frank Lantz, Director NYU Game Center
Frank Lantz is the Director of the NYU Game Center, he has taught game design for over 12 years at NYU, SVA, and Parsons and his writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications. Frank is a game designer who has worked in the field of game development for the past 20 years. In 2005 he co-founded Area/Code, which created cross-media, location-based, and social network games as well as the popular abstract puzzle game Drop7. Before starting Area/Code, Frank worked on a wide variety of games as the Director of Game Design at Gamelab, Lead Game Designer at Pop & Co, and Creative Director at R/GA Interactive. Over the past 10 years, Frank helped pioneer the genre of large-scale realworld games, working on projects such as the Big Urban Game, which turned the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul into the world’s largest boardgame; Sharkrunners, which allowed players to interact with living sharks in a persistent virtual world, PacManhattan, a life-size version of the arcade classic created by the students in his Big Games class at NYU, and many other experiments in pervasive and urban gaming.
Cindy Au, Kickstarter
Cindy Au is Head of Community at Kickstarter. After receiving her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cindy joined Kickstarter in 2010 where she oversees the support, development, and growth of Kickstarter's community of creators and backers. Previously, she has worked as a writer and teacher covering topics in games and comics, and continues to work closely with both communities on Kickstarter. She currently resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and loves game night, pie, and corgis.
Asi Burak, Games for Change
Asi Burak is Co-President of Games for Change (G4C). In his role there, he leads the development of programs to raise the quality and reach of social impact games, and co-produces the Annual Games for Change Festival, the largest gaming event in New York. For partners including USAID, The World Bank, American Museum of Natural History, and Pulitzer Prize-winning NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof (“Half the Sky”), he is guiding the investment of $8 million into new game projects. For his work at G4C, Burak was named one of the “Digital 25: Leaders in Emerging Entertainment” by the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and Variety Magazine. Prior to G4C, Burak co-founded and led Impact Games, the creators of the acclaimed “PeaceMaker” and “Play the News” gaming platforms (acquired 2010). He is often interviewed by international media, and has been invited to speak at conferences and institutions including TEDxGotham, Harvard Kennedy School, Sundance, Skoll Forum, SXSW, and the US Army War College. He is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA in Design for Social Innovation, and holds a Master of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University.
Ian Cheng, Grasshopper project
The Grasshopper Round Table is a touchscreen game table for multiplayer games for up to six players. The goal is to make social games something more than sending virtual cows or sharing scores, and to use touchscreen gaming technology for face-to-face social gaming. The technology wouldn’t look out of place on Star Trek, but the in-person social play is more like an arcade.
David Hochman, Biosketch
See bio above
Erik Huey, Entertainment Software Association
See bio above
Micah Kotch, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, NYU-Poly
Micah Kotch is Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). He played an integral role in launching NYU-Poly’s first new-business incubator in partnership with the City of New York, on Varick Street in Hudson Square in 2009. He is the Founding Director of the New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy (NYC ACRE) incubator for NYU-Poly, which develops the ‘clean economy’ sector in New York City. He directed the launch of the NYU-Poly DUMBO Incubator that fosters digital media, mobile and creative technology startups. In 2012, Worth Magazine named the NYU-Poly incubators under his leadership among its “Top 10 Idea Labs.” An internationally sought-out speaker on innovation and economic development, his work assisting startup tech ventures has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Scientific American, and NPR's Marketplace.
Nik Mikros, SMASHWORX
Nikita Mikros is a game designer/developer living in Brooklyn, New York, United States. He is the founder and CEO of SMASHWORX and Tiny Mantis Entertainment, two independent game studios located in New York City. Mikros's most current project is "Killer Queen Arcade" a 10-player arcade game he co-designed with Joshua Debonis. Before his current positions Mr. Mikros was co-founder of Black Hammer Game. Mikros was the lead designer of "The Egg Files" which was a 2002 Independent Games Festival finalist and was published by Manifesto Games. In addition, he was lead designer of Supremacy: Four Paths To Power which was also an Independent Games Festival finalist in 2005 and is published byMatrix Games. In addition to electronic games, Mikros has collaborated with Joshua Debonis in designing games for the Come Out and Play Festival in New York City. In 2008 they designed "Pigeon Pinata Pummel", and in 2009 they designed "Pitfall! Live at the Tank", which won "Best Spectacle". He has been interviewed by Kotaku and GameSpy. His work has been reviewed by indiestatik, GameDev.net, MacAddict, PC Gamer, AppSpy, and The Portable Gamer. Writing credits include "Using Software Prototypes In Game Design" an article that appeared in the book Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton and Chris Swain. He has taught various multimedia and game design classes at The School of Visual Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, and Seton Hall University. Mr. Mikros received his B.A. in Painting/Studio Art from Queens College and an M.F.A. in Computer Art from the School of Visual Arts.
Mathieu Nouzareth, Fresh Planet
Paris-born, serial web entrepreneur Mathieu Nouzareth is CEO of FreshPlanet, the New York-based developer of the highly popular social mobile game SongPop, the turn-by-turn, simulated real-time play game for music lovers that has built a global following of over 80 million players since its launch in June 2012. Mathieu Nouzareth began his career in 1995 at 23 by co-founding WebConcept, one of France’s first e-business consulting firms. WebConcept was sold to Sweden’s IconMedialab of Sweden in 1999, and is one the largest internet consultancy companies in the world. From 1999 to 2001, Mathieu acted as CEO of IconMedialab France. In 2001, Mathieu and his brother Romain started Boonty.com, a digital game distribution company. Operating in over 30 countries with a staff of 180, the company was sold to Nexway (France) in 2008 and is currently one of the world’s leading game distribution platforms. In 2006, the Nouzareth brothers founded Is Cool Entertainment, social casual game publisher which is now listed on the NYSE-Alternext market (ALIS) and has become one Europe’s largest Facebook game developers. In 2009, Mathieu moved to New York where he and Romain founded the game company, FreshPlanet, where Mathieu currently acts as CEO. Mathieu is a graduate of the Grenoble School of Management and holds an MBA from Pace University in New York. He is a frequent panelist at tech conferences such as LeWeb Paris, CES Las Vegas, GDC or CrunchUp.
Syed Salahuddin, Babycastles
Syed Salahuddin is an internationally known artist and game designer based out of NYC. He is responsible for founding Babycastles, a video game collective originally based out of Queens, NY, as well as participating in independent games culture since 2006. Syed is regarded as an expert on games and technology and has been asked to talk about his work on the Public Broadcasting Service, National Public Radio, and The New York Times. Currently Syed is an adjunct professor teaching Computer Programming and Game Design at NYU and NYU-Poly as well as an instructor at Quest to Learn.
Jason Schreiber, Powerhead Games
Jason Schreiber has spent his twenty year video game development career in New York. Before founding Powerhead Games, Jason was Senior Producer at GT Interactive Software (now Infogrames/Atari). At GTIS, Jason was responsible for the launch of the Unreal franchise, evaluating new products and developers, and managing the New York product development department. Before joining GTIS, Jason toiled at Acclaim Entertainment, Hi Tech Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. In 2000 Jason founded Powerhead Games an independent video game developer with lifetime sales of three million games worldwide! Powerhead works with international game publishers such as Ubisoft (Catz DS, CSI DS) and Konami (Winx DS).
Greg Trefry, Gigantic Mechanic
Greg Trefry has wide-array of experience designing games—everything from web-based MMOs to hit casual games to alternate reality games. He co-founded the game design studio Gigantic Mechanic to explore the bounds of game design through mobile games that interact with the real world. He serves as director of the Come Out & Play Festival, a festival of street games in New York City. Greg teaches at New York University and recently wrote the book, Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in All of Us.
Jamin Warren, Kill Screen
Jamin Warren founded the videogame arts and culture company Kill Screen. Formerly a culture reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he serves as an advisor to MoMA's department of Architecture and Design. Jamin also writes and hosts Game/Show, a weekly short for PBS. His thoughts on games and digital culture have been featured in the New Yorker, New York Times, Paris Review and others. Ebony named him one of their top tech leaders to watch and the New York Observer called him a “burgeoning media baron.” He’s also a frequent contributor to NPR, and has spoken at SXSW, the New York Film Festival, XOXO, and others. Jamin lives in Brooklyn.
Please check in at the lobby of the Dibner Library at 5 MetroTech Center