The Advisory Committee, made up of distinguished game industry veterans from the Game Developers Conference Online, will select Special Award winners following public nominations. These advisors are as follows:
GDC Online Advisory Board
Chief Operating Officer, BlackBox
Cindy Armstrong brings a wealth of over 20 years of experience in operations, business development, and finance to the team at BlackBox. As COO for BlackBox, Cindy Armstrong is responsible for all strategic planning, overseas development and operations. She also serves as a consultant to several online game companies including Gamania and Portalarium Her background includes serving as the CEO of Electric Bat Interactive, CEO of Webzen America, Vice President of Business Development at Sony Online Entertainment, and Director of Sales Analysis and Planning at Nintendo of America. Previous responsibilities included strategic planning, international publishing operations, developing licensing opportunities, scouting new products, and exploring innovative business models.
CEO, ICO Partners
Thomas Bidaux started his career at France Telecom, within the GOA team. In 1999 he grew the team from a one man operation in charge of the first French MMORPG, LA4EME PROPHETIE, to the European organization in charge of successful DARK AGE OF CAMELOT. In 2004, he left France Telecom, to set up the European subsidiary of the online game giant NCsoft. Acting as the development director for the company, he managed the teams who brought many online games to the European market, including GUILD WARS and CITY OF HEROES.
He is now the CEO of ICO Partners, the consulting agency he founded in April 2008. With his team of experts, he guides independent developers seeking to enter the online games market, provides local expertise to foreign online games publishers entering the European market and has recently providing bespoke pan-European media management services through the ICO Media brand.
J. Allen Brack
Production Director, Blizzard Entertainment
J. Allen Brack joined the game industry in 1994, and currently serves as the Production Director for WORLD OF WARCRAFT. In this role, J is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the game's development team as it creates new content to keep the experience fresh and exciting. This involves overseeing all aspects of the project and managing the production of patches and expansions from initial conception through release.
Brack started at Blizzard Entertainment in January 2006 as a senior producer in charge of content, playing a major role in the creation of new zones, dungeons, and quests for WORLD OF WARCRAFT's first expansion pack, THE BURNING CRUSADE. In his role as Production Director Brack shipped two award winning and #1 selling expansion packs, WRATH OF THE LICH KING and CATACLYSM.
Prior to joining Blizzard, he worked at Origin Systems, Inc. on the WING COMMANDER franchise and then at Sony Online Entertainment LLC on STAR WARS GALAXIES.
Technical Director, Zenimax Online Studios
Bill has worked in the video game industry since joining Kesmai's Air Warrior team as a server programmer in 1996. Subsequently Bill went on to serve as the Live Lead for Ultima Online at Origin, Server Lead for The Sims Online at Maxis, and Technical Director for Star Wars Galaxies at Sony Online Entertainment. More recently Bill helped found BioWare's Austin studio and oversaw all technical development of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bill is currently working on an unannounced project at Zenimax Online Studios.
Senior Marketing Director, Riot Games
Chris Enock brings more than a decade of professional experience (and a lifetime of gaming experience) to Riot Games in his role as Senior Marketing Director. Responsible for all US and European marketing activities for League of Legends, Chris steers teams including Brand Management, Advertising, Sales, Public Relations, and Corporate Communications.
Chris cut his teeth as a programmer at Monster Games, Inc., developing over his four years there a deep software engineering and core development perspective that continues to inform his approach to the strategic and tactical marketing initiatives he oversees at Riot. After obtaining his MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business, Chris began his career in brand management at Activision, shipping titles including Shrek the Third, Kung Fu Panda and Guitar Hero Metallica before joining Santa Monica-based Riot Games in 2009, then an upstart company just launching its debut title League of Legends.
Vice President, Studio General Manager, BioWare Mythic - an EA Studio
Eugene Evans is VP and Studio GM of BioWare Mythic, part of the BioWare Label within Electronic Arts. BioWare Mythic created or manages three legendary live MMO's, WARHAMMER ONLINE, ULTIMA ONLINE and DARK AGE OF CAMELOT. It recently announced WARHAMMER ONLINE: WRATH OF HEROES the studios first free to play game. Prior to EA's acquisition of Mythic in 2006 Eugene was VP, Marketing and Business Development and responsible for the launch of WARHAMMER ONLINE and DARK AGE OF CAMELOT. He managed relationships with Mythic's worldwide partners, including Vivendi, France Telecom and Capcom. As a 30 year veteran of the game industry, Eugene has worked at small start-up developers, large publishers and media companies around the world. Before joining Mythic he founded Infinite Ventures an independent production and licensing company that created one of the first interactive DVD games, and licensed and produced cross platform versions of the award winning adventure game SHADOWGATE. Infinite Ventures was also a business development consultant to several leading developers including Zipper Interactive (acquired by Sony in 2006).
Senior Vice President & General Manager, Mindspark Worlds
Mike heads up Rebel Entertainment, Inc., an IAC company dedicated to creating fun and innovative online games. Prior to joining IAC, Mike was an entrepreneur in the social gaming space and oversaw the development of a portfolio of virtual worlds at Disney including TOONTOWN ONLINE, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ONLINE, PIXIE HOLLOW and THE WORLD OF CARS ONLINE. Mike also developed several virtual reality theme park attractions at Walt Disney Imagineering including Aladdin's Magic Carpet Adventure and the award-winning Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold.
Vice President, Nexon America
Min joined NEXON Korea Corp. in 2003 when he learned players were spending ten dollars to buy balloons in a free-to-play online game. His initial intention was to quickly bottle all the magic to share with developers in the west. In his excitement, he forgot to take a bottle.
As Vice President of Live Games, Min is responsible for all the product initiatives at Nexon America, Inc. Prior to co-founding Nexon America, Min launched the Global Edition of Nexon's flagship title, MapleStory. He has made significant contributions to the adoption of digital content cards at retail, and recently launched Karma Koin. He also serves on the board for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and on the America's Advisory Board for the Merchant Risk Council.
Min believes his interest in microtransactions and multiplayer gaming comes from trading baseball cards, playing Magic the Gathering, painting Games Workshop miniatures, and buying music on iTunes. He is a nerd.
Vice President of Creative Design, Playdom
Raph is a 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, http://www.raphkoster.com.
Director of Community Development, CLARA
Industry veteran Valerie Massey is passionate about everything related to video games, especially the people who make and play them. Her love affair with MMOs began with Ultima Online which also rekindled her inner journalist. Initially writing pro bono for portal sites like Stratics and Game Spy, her career began in earnest in 2002 as the premier community manager for EVE Online. At NCsoft, she initiated the community efforts for Tabula Rasa and Auto Assault, then returned to CCP to establish their first in-house public relations division which was later expanded to include community relations. Having left CCP in 2011, she is now a private consultant and devotes her free time to raising awareness and donations for Get Well Gamers, a charity that provides video games to childrens' hospitals. A native Texan, Ms. Massey attended San Jacinto College and resides in Austin.
Founder, Night Owl Games
Chris Mayer is the founder of the independent Austin based game studio Night Owl Games and is responsible for the development and launch of DUNGEON OVERLORD. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Chris spent a decade developing and publishing MMOs. This includes lead engineering roles on ULTIMA ONLINE at EA: Austin and STAR WARS GALAXIES at Sony Online Entertainment. He served as CTO and VP of Product Development at NCsoft Corporation North America helping to fund and publish numerous MMO titles as well as setting up an infrastructure designed to assist development teams with common MMO technical requirements.
Prior to entering the game industry in 1998, Chris graduated from Rice University and then worked as a software engineer at National Instruments. Chris currently lives in Austin, TX with his wife, children, and overly energetic dog. When he is not playing with his kids, he is online, playing PC games, or taking a beating, playing amateur hockey at the local rink.
Peggle Studio Franchise Director, PopCap Games
Joe McDonagh is the Peggle Studio Franchise Director at PopCap Games, creators of BEJEWELED BLITZ and ZUMA BLITZ. Prior to PopCap he was the Creative Director for LucasArts where he was responsible for the creative aspects of all STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES games. From 2004 to 2009 Joe worked for Irrational Games / 2K Boston, eventually as Director of Creative Development. He is the co-recipient of GDC's 2007 award for Best Writing in a Video Game for BIOSHOCK. BIOSHOCK has won more than 50 game of the year awards and is metacritic's 15th highest reviewed game of all time. Earlier in his career Joe worked at BigWorld, the MMO middleware company. He also worked at BT's online games service, Wireplay. He was the co-founder and co-owner of the British game development studio Elixir Studios, creators of EVIL GENIUS and REPUBLIC: THE REVOLUTION. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters Degree in Modern History from Oxford University.
Vice President, iWin
Prior to joining iWin, Laralyn was creative director for the ground-breaking MMO Free Realms at Sony Online Entertainment, which acquired a million players in its first 18 days and more than 20 million players to date. She was also lead designer for the most nominated game of E3 2003: Full Spectrum Warrior. She shared the top spot in Massive Online Gaming's 2010 list of the Top 20 Most Influential People in MMO, and was also on Beckett's list of the top women in MMOs for 2010 along with being named one of Gamasutra's 20 most influential women in games in 2008. She's been in a design leadership role on a wide range of games for both core and casual audiences, including shooters, platformers, RPGs, strategy games and simulations. Laralyn holds a B.A. in Psychology from Vassar College, and a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law.
Co-Studio Director, Bioware Austin
Rich Vogel has been doing game development for 20 years. His first five years was doing console development for CD-I, Sega, and PS-1. He started his online career as Senior Producer of Meridian 59 where he helped launch and run the live service. He left 3DO to join Origin in 1997 as Senior Producer of Ultima Online where he helped launch and run the live service for two years. In 2000, Rich joined Sony Online Entertainment as Executive Producer and founded the Austin Studio. He shipped Star Wars Galaxies in 2003 and the first expansion Jump to Lightspeed in 2004.
He joined BioWare in 2005 and helped form the Austin studio for Bioware. He is currently V.P of Production and Executive Producer of Star Wars the Old Republic. Rich speaks frequently on issues of online world design, online development process, and online community management.
Vice President & Executive Producer, Playdom Austin
Gordon Walton has been authoring games and managing game development since 1977. He is currently VP and Exec Producer at Playdom Austin. Prior positions include VP and co-Studio General Manager at BioWare Austin working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, VP, Executive Producer and Studio Manager at Sony Online Entertainment in Austin, working on an unannounced product and Star Wars Galaxies, Gordon was VP and Executive Producer of The Sims Online at Electronic Arts/Maxis, and in the same role for Origin Systems managing Ultima Online; He also served as Senior VP and General Manager of Kesmai Studios, where he oversaw the development of several MMOGs including Air Warrior and Multiplayer Battletech. Gordon has owned and managed two development companies and was development manager for both Three-Sixty Pacific and Konami of America, Inc. He has personally developed more than 30 games and overseen the development of more than 200 games.
Gordon has been a speaker at every Game Developers Conference since its inception in 1988. Gordon has also been a featured speaker at industry events such as E3, Austin Game Developers Conference, East Coast Computer Game Developers Conference, Kagan Conference, Japan Personal Computer Software Association Conference and Jupiter's Conference.
Gordon is a founding member of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and a member of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS). He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University with a minor in Electrical Engineering.
Principal Software Engineer, Zynga
Dr. Robert Zubek is a principal software engineer at Zynga in San Francisco, developing games for social networks, where he built games such as CityVille and Roller Coaster Kingdom. Prior to Zynga, he was at Three Rings Design, and Electronic Arts / Maxis; even earlier, he did research in artificial intelligence and robotics. He holds a PhD in computer science from Northwestern University, where he also earned his other CS degrees.