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Game Developers Choice Special Awards Jury

Frank Cifaldi

The Video Game History Foundation

Frank Cifaldi is the founder and co-director of The Video Game History Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that historians have the tools that they need to tell the story of video games. In his twenty-year video game career he has also been a journalist, editor, and video game designer and producer, known mainly for his work on classic video game compilations at Digital Eclipse.


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Ed Fries

1Up Ventures

Ed Fries created his first video games for the Atari 800 in the early 1980s. He joined Microsoft in 1986 and spent the next ten years as one of the early developers of Excel and Word. In 1996 he left the Office team to pursue his passion for interactive entertainment and created Microsoft Game Studios. Over the next eight years he grew the team from 50 people to over 1200, published more than 100 games including more than a dozen million+ sellers, co-founded the Xbox project, and made Microsoft one of the leaders in the video game business. In 2004, Ed retired as a Microsoft Vice President and began working as a board member and advisor with entrepreneurs in the video game business as well as serving on the board of many non-profit organizations including the International Game Developers Association, the Pacific Science Center and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2019 Ed joined with some friends to launch 1Up Ventures, a venture fund to support independent game developers around the world.


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Tracy Fullerton

USC Games

Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer, professor and director emeritus of the USC Games program. Her research center, the Game Innovation Lab, has produced several influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Night Journey, with artist Bill Viola and Walden, a game, a simulation of Henry David Thoreau's experiment at Walden Pond, which was named "Game of the Year" at Games for Change 2017 and "Developer Choice" at IndieCade 2017. Tracy is the author of "Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games," a design textbook used at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Prior to USC, she designed games for companies including Microsoft, Sony, MTV, among many others.  Tracy's work has received numerous honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television, Indiecade's "Sublime Experience," "Impact," and "Trailblazer" awards, Games for Change "Game Changer" award, the Game Developers Choice "Ambassador" Award, and Time Magazine's Best of the Web.


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Raph Koster


Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. He's been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; a venture-backed entrepreneur heading his own studio; and he's contributed design work, writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player games for handheld consoles.

Koster is widely recognized as one of the world's top thinkers about game design, and is an in-demand speaker at conferences all over the world. His book A Theory of Fun for Game Design is one of the undisputed classics in the games field and was recently revised for a 10th anniversary edition. In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online. Visit his blog at


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Erin Robinson

Guerilla Games

Erin Robinson Swink is a Senior Quest Designer at Guerrilla Games. Prior to that, she was the co-director of the Games & Playable Media MS Program at UC Santa Cruz, a position she held for 3 years. Her background is in indie games, a passion that continues to this day in the form of her company, Ivy Games. Her most recent game is Gravity Ghost: Deluxe Edition, released on PlayStation in 2019.


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Advisory Committee Alumni

  • Simon Carless
  • Mark Cerny
  • Ben Cousins
  • Chris Charla
  • Clint Hocking
  • Clinton Keith
  • Raph Koster
  • Doug Lombardi
  • Julien Merceron
  • Laine Nooney
  • Bob Rafei
  • Amir Rao
  • Jade Raymond
  • Brian Reynolds
  • Margaret Robertson
  • Erin Robinson
  • Meggan Scavio
  • Caryl Shaw
  • Brandon Sheffield
  • Mare Sheppard
  • Harvey Smith
  • Tommy Tallarico
  • John Vechey
  • Kiki Wolfkill