The editors of Game Developer and Gamasutra have chosen an Advisory Committee, made up of distinguished game industry veterans, to select Special Award winners following public nominations. These advisors are as follows:
Simon CarlessGamasutra, Game Developers Conference (GDC)
Simon works in San Francisco for UBM Tech as head of its Game Network, including overseeing the worldwide Game Developers Conference shows, and working with the Webby Award-winning Gamasutra. Carless is Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Games Festival, and he co-founded and led the Independent Games Summit since 2007 as part of the yearly San Francisco-based Game Developers Conference. Carless edited the games page on Slashdot, and he worked as a lead game designer at Kuju Entertainment, Eidos Interactive and Atari. He wrote Gaming Hacks, a book published by O'Reilly Media.
Mark CernyCerny Games Inc.
Most recently, Mark has been in the public eye as the lead system architect of the PlayStation 4 hardware, but over the course of his three decades in video games he has primarily worked to create game software. Mark has contributed as game designer, programmer, producer and director, in arcade games and in console games, and in the U.S. and Japan.
As a member of Atari he created the hit arcade game Marble Madness, and at Sega he oversaw the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. While president of Universal Studios' game division, he worked in a variety of production and design roles on the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series on the original PlayStation. In 1998 Mark established Cerny Games as a consultancy, and has since participated in the creation of the Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank series on PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3 titles Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance II, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, God of War III and Killzone 3, and the PlayStation 4 launch title Knack, on which he served as director.
In 2004 the IGDA honored Mark with its Lifetime Achievement Award, calling him a master collaborator and a jack of all trades. In 2010 the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences inducted Mark into its Hall of Fame as its 13th member.
Ben CousinsThe Outsiders
Ben is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Outsiders, a new studio based in Stockholm focused on making games for core gamers that sit in between AAA and indie. Prior to this, Ben was General Manager of Scattered Entertainment at DeNA as well as the Head of European Studios. He also worked at EA, where he was General Manager of Easy, a studio that managed a portfolio of free-to-play PC games including the groundbreaking Battlefield Heroes. Mirroring the industry's transition into direct-to-consumer distribution models, Ben has been working exclusively on digitally delivered games since 2005 and he is widely regarded as one of the Western world's leading authorities on freemium game development and operation. Ben started his games industry career as a QA tester in 1999.
Clint Hocking entered the game industry working for Ubisoft Montreal in July of 2001 when he began his career as a level designer, game designer and scriptwriter on the original Splinter Cell. Along with writer JT Petty, Clint was honored for his writing work on the title with the first-ever Game Developer's Choice Award for Excellence in Scriptwriting. Clint continued as lead level designer, scriptwriter and creative director on Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory - the highest rated Splinter Cell to date, with an aggregate review score of 94%. Clint then worked as creative director on the innovative and acclaimed Far Cry 2. In 2010, Clint left Ubisoft and moved to San Francisco where worked as a creative director at LucasArts. From 2012 to the end of 2013, Clint worked as a designer and level designer at Valve in Seattle.
Before games, Clint worked in the Web industry and experimented with independent filmmaking while earning an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. He maintains a blog at www.clicknothing.com.
Clinton introduced Scrum and agile to the game development industry in 2003 as the CTO of High Moon Studios. Since then he has become dedicated to helping game developers adopt Scrum as a Certified Scrum Trainer and agile coach.
Over the course of 23 years, Clinton has gone from programming avionics for advanced fighter jets to working on video games that put one of today's hottest studios on the map. Previously Clinton worked as director of product development/lead programmer at Angel Studios, now renamed Rock Star San Diego. There, he helped the company double its staff while directing the development of their hit racing game franchises, starting with their first blockbuster MIDTOWN MADNESSs. By creating new engineering tools and production processes that improved execution rates, Clinton helped Angel become the only studio to deliver two complete titles for PS2's launch, top-ten seller0s MIDNIGHT CLUB and SMUGGLER'S RUN, followed by successful sequels to both series as well as additional hit titles.
Raph was the VP of creative design at Playdom, which acquired his startup Metaplace in 2010. In past lives, Raph was the lead designer on the seminal online world ULTIMA ONLINE, which first brought online worlds to the mass market, and chief creative officer for Sony Online Entertainment, makers of EVERQUEST, where he previously led the design of STAR WARS GALAXIES. Raph's essays and writings have appeared in game design textbooks, books on legal theory, and major newspapers, and his book A Theory of fun for Game Design is considered a classic and is widely used in universities. He is a regular speaker at game, technology, and policy conferences all over the world, and still finds time to write on his popular website, RaphKoster.com.
After years in the music industry, Lombardi decided to get a real job. Then he came to his senses and made the decision to get into the gaming industry. That started in 1994, as a freelance journalist contributing to magazines such as New Media and CD-ROM Today. He later became a launch editor on boot magazine (today known as Maximum PC) and CNET’s Gamecenter.com. In 1998 he accepted a marketing position at Sierra Online as the brand manager for two new games coming from two unknown studios; Valve’s Half-Life and Relic’s Homeworld. At the end of 1999, Lombardi accepted a full time position at Valve. As VP of Marketing at Valve, he helps manage and coordinate third-party relations, marketing, and press activities for all of Valve’s game titles and the Steam online platform.
Julien MerceronBandai Namco
Julien started as a programmer on the Atari Jaguar in the early 90s at Shen Technologies in Paris. He then joined Ubisoft Entertainment to work in Game Teams and Engine Teams before becoming the Worldwide Technical Director of Ubisoft Entertainment in 1999. In this role, he played a major role in Studios creation and organization, technology and production pipeline design, multi-platform strategy, as well as AAA features integration, on Brands such as Rayman, Far Cry, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, and Assassin's Creed. He also took responsibility for middleware and development strategy, communication and cooperation strategy, and hardware manufacturers and middleware relations.
At the end of 2005, after having worked extensively on PS3 / XBox360, Julien pursued his career at Eidos, where he started to serve as Worldwide CTO working on the Technology Strategy for the Group, before getting involved as well as initiating Eidos Montreal and Eidos Shanghai Studios. Julien became Worldwide Technology Director for Square Enix Group, working on a wide variety of Engines and franchises including Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Hitman, Deus Ex and Kingdom Hearts.
In 2013, he joined Konami as Worldwide Technology Director to oversee Fox Engine, work directly on the acclaimed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that received many awards, and help advance many games in the group including Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 and 2016.
Julien left Konami recently to join Bandai Namco Studios, where he now serves as their Worldwide Technology Director.
Bob RafeiBig Red Button
A fifteen-year veteran of the gaming industry, Bob was the art director, character animator and concept artist at Naughty Dog before co-founding Big Red Button in 2008. He joined NDI in early '95 as its first employee while in the visual development stage of CRASH BANDICOOT, which paved the way for CB2: CORTEX STRIKES BACK, CB: 'WARPED' and CRASH TEAM RACING for PlayStation, collectively selling 30 million+ units worldwide. He played a key role in establishing the look of this series and touched on all aspects of production from character rigging to animation. During development of JAK & DAXTER: THE PRECURSOR, JAK II, JAK 3 & JAK X for the PS2, he lead visual development that set the look of this award winning franchise as well as contribute to character animations. Most recently, he co-art directed UNCHARTED: DRAKE'S FORTUNE for PS3. He has lectured at GDC ('01-'04) on various VA subjects, and has served as panel leader on craft categories of animation and art direction for Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' (AIAS) achievement awards. He has also contributed writings to Animation Magazine and Animation World Network (AWN.com). His non-games credits include the album cover art for Blues Traveler's: Travelers & Thieves.
Amir RaoSupergiant Games
Amir Rao is the Co-Founder and Studio Director of Supergiant Games, the creators of the award-winning digital titles Bastion and Transistor. He got his start in the games industry at Electronic Arts Los Angeles as level designer on the Commander & Conquer franchise. Along with his colleague Gavin Simon, he left the studio in 2009 to form Supergiant Games in his ongoing quest to give back to gaming what gaming’s given him.
Jade RaymondMotive Studios and Visceral Games, EA
Jade Raymond is Vice President and Group General Manager of Motive Studios and Visceral Games, where she is leading a team to build new action IP. She joined Electronic Arts in 2015 and her team is currently focused on building a new Star Wars action game. Prior to joining EA, Jade served as Managing Director at Ubisoft Toronto, a studio she opened in 2010. She also served as Executive Producer of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise including book and film development. Jade is well known as a co-creator and Executive Producer of Assassin’s Creed, one of the bestselling franchises of all time. During her time at Ubisoft, Jade was also the Executive Producer responsible for the creation of Watch Dogs and Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. Jade holds a DEC in Pure and Applied Science, and a BSc in Computer Science from McGill University. She started her career as an online programmer for Sony Online and has held various programming and management positions at Sony and game development start-ups. Jade is on the Board of Directors of WIFT-T, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women across screen-based industries. Jade likes singing silly songs with her kids, unicorns, and poking dead things with a stick.
Brian ReynoldsBig Huge Games
A twenty-year industry veteran, Brian Reynolds is recognized as one of the industry's most talented and productive game designers. Honored by PC Gamer magazine as one of twenty-five Game Gods, Reynolds played a principal role founding three successful game studios: Firaxis, Big Huge Games, and Zynga East. Reynolds’ videogames have sold over 6 million copies worldwide, and he has masterminded the design of several smash hits including CIVILIZATION II, ALPHA CENTUARI, RISE OF NATIONS, as well as CATAN for Xbox360 Live Arcade. Now over 6 million people a day flock to his first social game, FRONTIERVILLE.
Highly regarded as well for his mastery of the art of programming, Reynolds' dual specialty gives him the substantial advantage of being able to bring his own visions to life - and he has built a reputation for finely tuned gameplay. As chief game designer for Zynga, Brian applied these talents to the rapidly growing world of social network games, and with his cohorts at Zynga East in Maryland he worked expanding FrontierVille and planning a new social games franchise. In February 2013, Reynolds left Zynga and in March 2013 he founded SecretNewCo, now known as Big Huge Games.
Margaret RobertsonNYU Game Center/PlayDots
At Hide&Seek, Margaret made big games (like the city-wide 12,000 player New Year Games), small games (like the Tiny Games project), silly games (like Drunk Dungeon) and serious games (like Dreams Of Your Life). Her previous role as an independent consultant enabled her to work on a huge range of projects, from AAA console titles, through download and mobile/ handheld games, to indie and art-house projects. She's worked with brands, broadcasters, and ﬁlm studios to develop their game strategies, and was part of the team that built the Channel 4's BAFTA- and Emmy-award winning educational game slate. Previously editor-in-chief of Edge magazine, and part of the team behind the GameCity festival, she is an internationally top-rated speaker on game design theory. Now she is an industry liaison for the NYU Game Center and game director at PlayDots.
Erin RobinsonIvy Games
Erin Robinson is and independent game developer whose work includes one PAX 10 finalist, two Indiecade finalists, and a PAX Indie Megabooth selection. In 2011 Fast Company listed her as one of the Most Influential Women in Technology. She's a regular speaker at GDC, and recently keynoted the Freeplay Independent Games Festival in Melbourne, Australia. She also teaches rapid prototyping at colleges, including regular gigs in Chicago and Sweden.
Robinson holds a BScH in Psychology from Queen's University, and has lectured about the intersection of games and neuroscience. In 2011, under Dr. Molly Carnes at the University of Wisconsin-Madision, and the Morgridge Institute for Research, she worked as lead designer on an NIH-funded game to reduce implicit bias in the scientific workforce. She remains interested in bridging the gap between game design and scientific research.
Erin is now a full-time independent developer. Her latest title is Gravity Ghost, a physics/puzzle game scheduled for release in 2014.
Meggan ScavioGame Developers Conference (GDC)
Meggan is the General Manager of the Game Developers Conference events and is responsible for the production, content, and integrity of the event. She is the liaison between the GDC and its group of industry advisors and maintains close ties to both the developer and publisher communities. Before joining the Game Developers Conference full-time, she was director of operations for CMP Media, a division of United Business Media (UBM), managing operational production of over a dozen International event properties.
Angie SmetsGuerrilla Games
Angie is Executive Producer and part of the Management Team at Guerrilla Games, based in Amsterdam the Netherlands. She received a Master's degree from Design Academy Eindhoven and started her career as Industrial Designer, specialised in Human Computer Interaction. Angie gained her first experience in the games industry over 16 years ago, developing for CDI and CDROM. Being able to bring together creativity and technology ignited a passion for games and in 2003 Angie joined Guerrilla to help create their first console game Killzone for PlayStation 2. Four more Killzone titles would follow on various hardware platforms, before releasing the PlayStation 4 launch title Killzone Shadow Fall. Angie is currently working on Guerrilla’s latest titles, Horizon Zero Dawn and PlayStation VR game RIGS.
Caryl ShawTelltale Games
Caryl Shaw is currently an executive producer at Telltale Games in San Rafael, California, focused on online and web features for upcoming Telltale games like Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones.
Prior to Telltale, Caryl was the Founder of Tower of Robots Consulting in San Francisco, California providing production and project management services to both game and app developers. During the rise of mobile gaming, Caryl was an executive producer at KIXEYE and ngmoco:) where she was responsible for building and managing iPhone and iPad applications as fun and profitable games and services. And earlier in her video games career, Caryl was a senior producer at EA/Maxis and worked on The Sims, SimCity and Spore franchises as the lead online producer.
She's spoken internationally about a range of topics including: Running a Live Mobile Game, Lessons Learned Making a Social Game for Facebook and Putting User-Generated Content to Work in Video Games.
Brandon SheffieldNecrosoft Games
Brandon Sheffield is director of Necrosoft Games, a lead creative on Xray.games, comic author at hotcomics.biz, and senior contributing editor to Gamasutra.com. He has shipped over a dozen game titles since 2005, as writer, director, designer, and producer. He has worked with a number of companies, including Square Enix, Other Ocean, Global Top Round, and the Game Developers Conference, where he programs the Game Career Seminar. He often speaks at and advises game events around the world, specifically on the topics of indie game development and business, and is always on the lookout for new ways to create understanding between game developers around the globe.
Harvey SmithArkane Studios
Harvey Smith has worked on video games since 1993 and is currently co-directing an unnanounced project with Raphael Colantonio at Arkane Studios. Previously, he was studio creative director at Midway Games (Austin), project director at Ion Storm (where he was lead designer on the BAFTA-winning Deus Ex and director of DEUS EX INVISIBLE WAR), lead designer at Multitude (a California-based internet startup), and producer/game designer at Origin Systems. Smith has spoken on numerous game design topics and won the Game Design Challenge at GDC 2006 with his concept "Peace Bomb."
Tommy TallaricoVideo Games Live
Tommy Tallarico is a veritable video game industry icon. As one of the most successful video game composers in history, he has helped revolutionize the gaming world, creating unique audio landscapes that enhance the video gaming experience. An accomplished musician, Tallarico has been writing music for video games for more than 25 years. He has won over 50 industry awards and has worked on more than 300 game titles (a Guinness World Record!). His score for ADVENT RISING has been noted as "one of the greatest musical scores of all time" by websites such as Yahoo, Gamespot and others. Tallarico was the first musician to release a video game soundtrack worldwide and has released 14 video game soundtrack albums since. In 2002, Tallarico created the critically acclaimed Video Games Live which features music from the greatest video games performed by top orchestras and choirs around the world combined with synchronized video footage, lasers, lights, special effects, interactivity and live action to create an explosive and unique one-of-a-kind entertainment experience. Tommy is the founder, Chairman and CEO of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), which is a non-profit organization educating and heightening the awareness of audio for the interactive world.
John VecheyPluto VR
John Vechey co-founded PopCap Games with Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka in 2000, and has been instrumental in driving nearly every aspect of the company's operations at one time or another. Vechey served as PopCap's interim CEO until 2003, heading up business development and securing some of PopCap's largest partnerships with major Web portals and game publishers. Vechey built PopCap's direct-to-consumer experience as Director of PopCap.com, overseeing all aspects of the company's Web site and online presence while directing PopCap's e-commerce, privacy/security and online games services. Vechey then worked in both the Business Development and Game Studio to establish PopCap's social games business. In 2009 he helped launch and grow BEJEWELED BLITZ on Facebook which went from zero to 25 million users in its first twelve months. Vechey managed PopCap's strategic investments and acquisitions, and helps shape and guide the global business and product strategy. Most recently, Vechey co-founded virtual reality startup Pluto VR.
Kiki Wolfkill343 Industries
Kiki Wolfkill is an executive producer at 343 Industries. She has worked on numerous projects, including Halo 4, Halo: Nightfall, Halo 5: Guardians, and the Halo Channel.