GDC 2023: Meet the Speakers
Game Developers Conference 2023 is here and we’re excited to introduce you to some of the speakers who are sharing their knowledge and expertise with creators everywhere.
Game Developers Conference 2023 is upon us! In addition to all of our on-site programming taking place throughout the week, we’ve launched the official Microsoft Game Dev GDC 2023 page. On this page, you’ll find 13 tech talks showcasing the tools, strategies and programs to help developers accelerate development, engagement, and growth.
Both our onsite and online efforts are led by an amazing group of creators that are happily sharing their knowledge and expertise to help everyone, from longtime developers to first-time hobbyists, get everything they could need from the conference. Let’s meet some of the people you’ll be learning from over the next few days.
Name: Sravya Antharam
Title: Senior Product Manager, Azure PlayFab @ Xbox
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work on the PlayFab Platform to deliver new AI/ML based features to help retain and re-engage players! I am motivated by working on solutions that are impactful. Whether it is ten or thousands of people, as long as my work benefited you, I am happy.
First game industry job: This is my first gaming industry role! Previously I worked in Azure Networking.
Favorite game: Stardew Valley
Name: Jonathan Burroughs (He/Him)
Title: Co-Founder & Company Director
Describe your role and what motivates you: I've co-lead Variable State, a UK-based narrative game studio, since 2014. I'm motivated to explore the potential of interactive storytelling, working alongside a team of like-minded creatives.
First game industry job: Quality assurance for Electronic Arts
Favorite game: Escape Velocity
Name: Philip Courtney (He/Him)
Title: CEO, Urban Arts
Describe your role and what motivates you: I run a non-profit that helps underrepresented students defy the odds by developing the skills and networks to get into the games industry.
First game industry job: This is my first job in the gaming industry!
Favorite game: EA SPORTS FIFA
Name: Crystin Cox
Title: Director of Business Strategy for Xbox Game Studios Publishing
Describe your role and what motivates you: I help shape our strategy for publishing in Xbox Game Studios. I love helping developers create and grow games that engage and nurture communities of players for years.
First game industry job: QA Tester at THQ
Favorite game: Eternal Darkness
Name: Ada Duan
Title: GM, Growth Products & Partnerships, Minecraft
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead a talented team focused on driving the growth product areas for Minecraft, including Marketplace, Realms, Education, Live Events, China and market expansion, as well as global partnerships.
First game industry job: Business development manager for LucasArts
Favorite game: Minecraft, always. Right now, I’m also enjoying Overcooked 2 with my family.
Name: Johannes Ebner
Title: Gaming Solution Architect
Describe your role and what motivates you: I consult Game Developers to build robust online game services, multiplayer architectures that stand the test of time and survive a large launch!
First game industry job: Backend Engineer for the MMO browser game Imperion
Favorite game: Freelancer
Name: Paula Angela Escuadra
Title: Sr. UX Strategist, Cloud Gaming & Sustainability, Xbox Game Studios Publishing
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work with game developers to make sure they have the information they need to make great games that leverage new technology and foster meaningful communities all over the world. I’m motivated by the power game developers have to redefine our relationship with failure, create meaning, and sustain hope in all its possible forms.
First game industry job: In my first job, I analyzed gameplay behavior and helped game teams understand what brings players in (and keeps them!).
Favorite game: Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Name: Nicholas Fang
Title: Director of Engineering, Xbox Player Experiences and Platforms
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead the engineering team that delivers the Xbox console experience and core platform pieces powering Xbox gaming on PC, helping game developers to create the best gaming experiences possible and helping gamers to find and jump into next favorite games. I also help to lead Management Excellence activities across Xbox, and I’m passionate about building the teams that build great products and supporting the managers that make those teams run.
First game industry job: Building the Xbox Gaming experience on Windows Phone 8.
Favorite game: Depends on my mood, but nothing has yet topped the experience of raiding in World of Warcraft.
Name: Iris Gardet (She/Her)
Title: Senior Project Manager, Environmental Sustainability (at Ubisoft)
Describe your role and what motivates you: As part of the transversal Environmental Sustainability team at Ubisoft, my role is to coordinate initiatives with producers and creative teams to help design games that are more sustainable and energy efficient, and to develop in-game activations to inspire and encourage players to take environmental action. What motivates me most is bringing emotional experiences to players and empowering our dev teams, enabling us all to have a greater positive impact on our planet.
First game industry job: I was the Operations Director of Ubisoft Motion Pictures and worked on adapting Ubisoft IPs to animated TV series (The Raving Rabbids TV Series – Seasons 1 & 2), live-action movies (especially Assassin’s Creed), and theme park rides (The Raving Rabbids 3D ride called ‘The Time Machine’ at the Futuroscope, in France).
Favorite game: As much as I like Far Cry 5 (which I worked on during my time at Ubisoft Toronto), I’m one of the many faithful fans of Mario Kart and its different versions, as it’s guaranteed fun with friends and family.
Name: Diego Garzon
Title: Procedural Content Director
Describe your role and what motivates you: Hello, my name is Diego Garzón, and I have a professional background in computer science with a specialized focus on simulation and synthetic data generation. I am currently serving as the Procedural Content Director at Microsoft, where my role centers around creating content pipelines and generating content for Xbox Game Studios. Throughout my time at Xbox, I have contributed to multiple titles and am presently focusing on the Forza Motorsport franchise at Turn 10. I am deeply passionate about video games because of their unique ability to bring people together. Through the intersection of art and technology, video games empower individuals from any culture to express themselves.
First game industry job: Senior FX Technical Director at Blizzard Entertainment
Favorite game: Starcraft 2
Name: Raymond Graham (He/Him)
Title: Director, Platform Graphics
Describe your role and what motivates you: Directing the teams that enable our low level graphics code. I love to enable game developers to get the most performance out of all the hardware they wish to build games for!
First game industry job: Software Engineer at NuFX working on NBA Live 99
Favorite game: XCOM: UFO Defense
Name: Nick Hegge
Title: Technical Program Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work in the Creator Onboarding space and I love partnering with so many teams to streamline the onboarding experience for our partners.
First game industry job: Xbox
Favorite game: Goldeneye
Name: Daniel Jacobs
Title: Senior Software Engineer, Gaming Sustainability
Describe your role and what motivates you: I am one of the lead program managers for sustainability in Xbox, which means I help Xbox keep track of our environmental metrics and plot our path towards Microsoft’s ambitious 2030 sustainability goals.
First game industry job: Game and app tester for the Xbox Certification team
Favorite game: So difficult! How can anyone answer this? Probably Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Name: Kenneth Jonsson
Title: CTO, Piktiv
Describe your role and what motivates you: One big motivation of mine is to figure out how to use a specific set of computer hardware to its fullest potential, be it game code, OS-kernel code or something else.
First game industry job: UE4 mobile port of Goat Simulator
Favorite game: The Last of Us Part 1
Name: Krister Larsson
Title: Tools Lead / Technical Producer at Fatshark
Describe your role and what motivates you: I coordinate all tools and technology production along with its testing and user research. What motivates me is simple, having the ability to help and motivate people.
First game industry job: 3d World Development, we did smaller interactive commercials back when Internet was barely a thing.
Favorite game: Horizon Zero Dawn
Name: Emilia Lazer-Walker
Title: Senior Cloud Advocate, Gaming
Describe your role and what motivates you: My job is to help game developers be more productive by building tools, building communities, and helping product teams understand their customers. As a former indie dev myself, what motivates me is helping small artists and creators make a sustainable living off their work.
First game industry job: Software Engineer on Words With Friends
Favorite game: I’d love to list whatever exciting experimental indie game I’m playing right now, but if I’m honest the answer is Destiny 2.
Name: Alex Le Boulicaut (He/Him)
Title: Forge Producer, Halo Infinite, 343 Industries
Describe your role and what motivates you: My primary focus today is to make Halo Infinite Forge the best platform for user-generated content in the industry. While at the same time contributing to the success of my teams and mitigating our environmental impact as much as possible without compromising on the level of quality our Players deserve.
First game industry job: Production Analyst at Ubisoft Montreal
Favorite game: God of War Ragnarök
Name: James Lewis (He/Him)
Title: Senior Creative Partner Program Lead
Describe your role and what motivates you: My role is to empower underrepresented creators with the resources and information needed to bring their creativity, innovation, and originality to Xbox. I am motivated by gaming’s ability to do more than entertain but to also build empathy and connect us at a human level.
First game industry job: Producer at ZeeGee Games followed by QA Tester at Junction Point working on Epic Mickey: The Power of Two.
Favorite game: Heavy Rain
Name: David Li (He/Him)
Title: Game Dev Product Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I am the Game Dev Product Manager at Visual Studio. I am passionate about making Visual Studio the best IDE there is for all game developers.
First game industry job: Current
Favorite game: DotA 2
Name: Jessica Lindl (She/Her)
Title: VP of Social Impact / Education at Unity
Describe your role and what motivates you: Increasing access to economic opportunities through game principles.
First game industry job: CEO of GlassLab, non-profit housed at EA and Zynga focused on proving the learning impact from video games kids love.
Favorite game: Microsoft Flight Simulator, FIFA, Legend of Zelda, etc.
Name: Yongcheng Liu
Title: Producer of NARAKA: Bladepoint console version
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead the development of NARAKA's console versions, as well as the UX team of Thunder Fire Studio. I am motivated by the duty of having video games bring joy to everyone.
First game industry job: Game Designer at NetEase
Favorite game: The Sims Series
Name: Vanessa Nyarko
Title: Senior Producer, The Coalition, Xbox Games Studios
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work with teams to bring together cinematics, gameplay and story to create immersive, cohesive experiences for players by enhancing our backend processes and workflow. Outside of work, I’m a lead for both Women in Gaming and Black Kids Code (Girls) and working with schools to speak on the opportunity for young girls in gaming. My long-term goal is to improve methods and opportunities to better impact storytelling in games, as well as to increase the understanding of authentic representation in the industry both on and off the screen.
First game industry job: Production Coordinator, Ubisoft Toronto
Favorite game: Mass Effect, Mario Kart, and though it’s not a video game, I’m a huge fa of Magic: The Gathering
Name: Jen MacLean (She/Her)
Title: GM, Creator Partnerships
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead a team that helps creators build success within the Xbox ecosystem. I love helping developers of all sizes realize their dreams and reach millions of players around the world.
First game industry job: Playtester, Microprose
Favorite game: Persona 5 Royal
Name: Luis Angel Mex
Title: Principal Software Engineering Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead multiple development teams at Turn 10 Studios, delivering technologies and tools that enable production, technical and artistic collaboration on Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and Fable. As a Mexican with Mayan heritage, I’m deeply passionate about building and elevating diverse, inclusive organizations.
First game industry job: Xbox Avatars for xbox.com
Favorite game: Forza Horizon 5
Name: Adam Miles
Title: Principal Software Engineer, Xbox ATG
Describe your role and what motivates you: I’m primarily a Rendering Engineer whose time is spent helping game developers ship the best-looking games for Xbox and PC. I enjoy the challenge of low-level optimisation and making next-gen graphics run as fast as possible!
First game industry job: Gameplay Engineer at Zoë Mode
Favorite game: iRacing
Name: Bunmi Ogidan (She/Her)
Title: Technical Program Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work on Microsoft's GDK Developer tools to help game creators make great games on the XBOX platform. I am passionate about helping underrepresented communities get into gaming and the gaming industry.
First game industry job: PM Intern at Xbox
Favorite game: So hard to pick! Crackdown 3, Fortnite, Resident Evil, The Evil Within
Name: Erika Olsen (They/She)
Title: Senior Producer, Cloud Gaming
Describe your role and what motivates you: I get to lead external studios to build new titles that are simultaneously interesting from a development perspective while also constantly thinking about player wants and needs.
First game industry job: VO Production Coordinator
Favorite game: Final Fantasy Tactics
Name: Wes Jefferson Ong
Title: Technical Program Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I’m a TPM on the PlayFab Monetization team focused on delivering backend game services to help enable and empower in-game Economy and UGC scenarios for game titles everywhere. I’m motivated by working on products and projects that people get excited about and getting to work with passionate people and interesting problems!
First game industry job: Engineering Intern for Big Huge Games
Favorite game: What Remains of Edith Finch
Name: Trista Patterson
Title: Director, Sustainability
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead the extraordinarily talented team that drives Xbox’ contribution to Microsoft’s 2030 goals, in partnership with each of the Xbox orgs, and the broader Microsoft ecosystem.
First game industry job: I authored the UN’s Playing For The Planet Report
Favorite game: Minecraft Frozen Planet II with my son
Name: Dana Payne (She/Her)
Title: Senior Technical Program Manager, Game Developer Experiences
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work on Microsoft's GDK Developer Tools and with multiple game engines, such as Unity and Unreal Engine, to help Game Creators make great games. My passion is to help get more games out into the world by making the development experience as smooth as possible.
First game industry job: Indie Game Developer
Favorite game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Name: Nick Popovich
Title: CEO of Monomi Park and Slime Rancher Series Director
Describe your role and what motivates you: As a Game Director, I provide the high level direction, as well as more finite details to help shape a project into something that stands out and resonates with our audience. I’m motivated by the magic moment that occurs when our games or new updates are released and we see it played, streamed, and discussed live.
First game industry job: Environment Artist at Castaway Entertainment
Favorite game: Almost impossible to answer, but Phantasy Star Online holds a special place.
Name: Josh Reynolds
Title: Director, Modern Workplace, Microsoft
Describe your role and what motivates you: I am responsible for developing and executing sales strategies to drive revenue growth for Microsoft's Modern Workplace solutions, which include security, productivity, and collaboration tools, while building and managing a high-performing sales team and maintaining strong customer relationships. I am motivated by the opportunity to coach and orchestrate diverse teams in solving unique challenges, leveraging the collective expertise of individuals with different backgrounds and skill sets to achieve a common goal.
Favorite game: Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Name: Steph Rogers (She/Her)
Title: Go-To-Market Manager – Azure Gaming
Describe your role and what motivates you: I create content that shares how game creators can unlock all of the tools and efficiency of Azure as their cloud provider – whether that be for internal processes for remote work and tooling or publishing their game cross-platforms around the globe. I am motivated by helping our studios unlock Azure Credits so they can try new, exciting tools with the ID@Azure program.
First game industry job: Content & Curriculum at Kidware Software - helping my dad publish programming books to teach kids how to learn C#, Java, and Visual Basic by building mini video games.
Favorite game: Mass Effect Remastered
Name: Mike Rose
Title: Director at No More Robots
Describe your role and what motivates you: I make sure all the lights stay on at No More Robots. My number one goal is to bring strange, wacky games to huge audiences.
First game industry job: My first industry job was writing for GameDeveloper (when it was called Gamasutra! I'm old)
Favorite game: Drop7
Name: Michael Schade
Title: CEO, Rockfish Games
Describe your role and what motivates you: I’m CEO and Product Manager of a thriving German indie studio specializing in space action RPGs. Over the last 20 years, my motivation has always been to achieve excellence creating and publishing our own games on multiple platforms together with an amazing team. I focus on partnering with leading platform holders as the team works hard to build games that make fans around the world happy.
Name: Michael Scott
Title: Principal Engineering Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I manage the team responsible for all the backend services powering Minecraft’s Marketplace in Bedrock spanning all of the ingestion tooling for Minecraft Creators to the services powering the Marketplace itself.
First game industry job: Engineer on Minecraft Earth
Favorite game: Any board game
Name: Mikey Soden (He/Him)
Title: Lead Producer
Describe your role and what motivates you: I head up Content Production for the Forza Franchise. If you see a Car in any of our games or media, it comes from my team. I am motivated by competent professional teams who deliver effectively.
First game industry job: QA Tester at Irrational Games
Favorite game: Anything by FromSoftware
Name: Keith Stockdale (He/Him)
Title: Software Engineer at Rare Ltd
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work on the Rendering and Engine teams at Rare on both Sea of Thieves and Everwild. Primarily working on particle system tech on both games. I am motivated by creating engine and rendering level systems which are easy to use for both engineers and content creators.
First game industry job: Rendering Engineer Intern at Rare
Favorite game: Ratchet and Clank
Name: Tad Swift
Title: Principal Software Engineer, Xbox ATG
Describe your role and what motivates you: My role involves helping developers optimize their games, but I also have a sideline in Sustainability and future technology. Seeing players enjoying their games running smoothly on our platform is my main motivation, but my work with sustainability will hopefully bring impactful benefits to all players.
First game industry job: Junior VFX Programmer at Criterion Games
Favorite game: Metal Gear Solid
Name: Jesper Tingvall
Title: Simplygon Product Expert
Describe your role and what motivates you: I help game developers create games that run butter smooth and are delivered on time. I am motivated by tea and bringing more people into the video game industry.
First game industry job: Founder of Catalope Games
Favorite game: Supreme Commander
Name: Zhiyao Tu
Title: Chief programmer of NARAKA: Bladepoint
Describe your role and what motivates you: I lead the programmer team of NARAKA. I am motivated by the moments when I see players really enjoying the games we create.
First game industry job: Lead Programmer of NARAKA
Favorite game: The Legend of Zelda Series
Name: Matt Turnbull (He/Him)
Title: Executive Producer
Describe your role and what motivates you: Building and leading teams to to create the best games they can. I love getting to work with so many incredibly talented people, and help them achieve their ambitions.
First game industry job: Video Game Tester
Favorite game: Dungeons & Dragons
Name: Tara Voelker (She/Her)
Title: Senior Accessibility Lead, Xbox Game Studios
Describe your role and what motivates you: I help make our games accessible to allow as many people as possible to play our games. I’m motivated by knowing that people with disabilities aren’t being excluded from the awesomeness that is the gaming community.
First game industry job: Quality Assurance Tester at Volition
Favorite game: Silent Hill 2
Name: CJ Williams
Title: Director of Program Management, Game Creator Services
Describe your role and what motivates you: I am the head of product for our Game Creators services including PlayFab and Xbox Live Developer services. I love building cloud services that help our Creators build and operate their games cheaper and more effectively.
First game industry job: Group Program Manager of XGS central cloud services
Favorite game: Civilization II; You can’t beat a classic.
Name: Ben Woodhouse
Title: Distinguished Engineer, Epic Games
Describe your role and what motivates you: I help keep Fortnite and Unreal Engine 5 running efficiently on consoles. I'm motivated by taking crazily ambitious tech and somehow making it run at 60FPS (without crashing).
First game industry job: Programmer at Criterion Games (working on Black)
Favorite game: Civilization 5
Name: Brady Woods (She/Her)
Title: Director of Product Strategy, Game Creator Services
Describe your role and what motivates you: I help figure out what cloud enabled services we should be building to empower creators to achieve their dreams on Xbox. I am motivated by being able to ideate and deliver big transformations.
First game industry job: This is my first game dedicated role. Previously I worked in Visual Effects / Media.
Favorite game: As a family we are loving Disney Dreamlight Valley these days.
Name: Peter Wyse (He/Him)
Title: General Manager, Xbox Game Studios, Publishing
Describe your role and what motivates you: I oversee a team built to partner with independent developers to support making great games that delight to players. Empowering creators and delighting players motivates me every day.
First game industry job: Assistant Producer, Disney Interactive
Favorite game: Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Name: Daisuke Yajima
Title: Program Section Manager & Director on the Persona team at Atlus
Describe your role and what motivates you: I work as a manager of the programming section and as a director of game production. As a manager, I feel motivated when my staff members grow and contribute to the improvement of our work. As a director, I feel motivated when I work together with my staff to create a better product.
First game industry job: Programmer on a title called Tokyo Majin Gakuen: Gehouchou released in 2002.
Favorite game: I love the Far Cry series, especially Far Cry 4. It's the best!
Name: Brannon Zahand (He/Him)
Title: Senior Gaming Accessibility Program Manager
Describe your role and what motivates you: I am a member of the gaming and disability community and 20-year game industry veteran. With over 27 years’ experience working with people with disabilities, I am a career-long accessibility advocate and inclusive gaming subject matter expert. After years in numerous roles at Xbox, including at 343 Industries working on Halo 5 and Halo Infinite, I now dedicate 100% of my time to ensuring that gaming is truly for everyone by educating developers and consumers alike as well as creating new and innovative technologies to aid gamers with disabilities.
First game industry job: My first job was as a Functional Test Lead on the Xbox Certification Team.
Favorite game: Angband
Name: Haiyan Zhang
Title: GM, Gaming AI
Describe your role and what motivates you: Lead AI strategy and incubation for Xbox
First game industry job: Incubation Director at Xbox Game Studios, London
Favorite game: Warcraft 3