Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Digital Nationz Announces First Round of Speakers

Digital Nationz Announces First Round of Speakers

This week the DIGITAL NATIONZ team are excited to share a few announcements. Ticket sales to DIGITAL NATIONZ went on sale last week Thursday 1st August, so far the 1 Day Saturday VIP & 2 Day VIP passes have already sold out, there are however still a limited number of 1 Day Sunday VIP passes left, along with Standard tickets (with Earlybird Specials for all tickets sold in August). We are incredibly excited and energised by the overwhelming response to DIGITAL NATIONZ, with many saying they have been waiting for an event like DIGITAL NATIONZ for quite some time now.

As part of our speaker sessions, panels and Q&A sessions we are bringing several local and international speakers to DIGITAL NATIONZ. Confirmed speakers include:

-         Benson Russell, Senior Designer at NAUGHTY DOG. Benson’s most recent title is critically acclaimed The Last Of Us (he also designed the well-known Uncharted series), and his original claim to fame was as the designer of the D-Day level in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for PC, a genre defining moment for game fans everywhere.

-         Dr Mark Sagar, a two time Academy Award Winner, who won academy awards for his technical work on Avatar and for his early and continuing development of influential facial motion retargeting solutions. For the last 15 years has specialized in bringing computer generated faces to life in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters including “Avatar”, “King Kong”, “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” and "Spiderman-2". Dr Sagar is the director of The Laboratory for Animate Technologies based at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

-         Tara Brannigan, Customer Relationship Manager at PikPok. Tara’s credits include Microsoft XBOX US, including a brief stint on the recently announced XBOX ONE title: Project Spark, and PopCap Games (responsible for the wildly popular casual titles Plants vs Zombies and Bejewelled).

-         Dr Melanie Swalwell, Associate Professor of Screen and Media at Flinders University in Australia. Melanie has published a suite of projects on New Zealand’s unique games history, and was keynote speaker at the 1st International History of Games conference, held in June in Montreal.

-         Jonathan Rogers, Technical Director of New Zealand company Grinding Gear Games, which is independently developing Online Action RPG game Path of Exile, one of the most anticpated games in New Zealand game development history with a global beta player base of over 2.9 million people and counting.

-         Greg Broadmore, Conceptual Designer & Artist for Weta Workshop. Greg was the lead concept designer on District 9 as well as being a designer on The Adventures of Tintin, Avatar, King Kong, and has through is own Dr. Grordbort series created a fantastical steampunk inspired world that has captured the creative communities imagination.

DIGITAL NATIONZ’s Peter Hall said “We feel very privileged, for this first speaker announcement, to be able to bring so many talented local and International speakers together at one event. All of which have such extensive backgrounds in gaming, tech, digital and will have a wealth of knowledge to share.”

This is our announcement for our first round of speakers, we have plenty more to announce. Full bios on all speakers are below.

In an innovative move to create an engaging experience for its event goers, DIGITAL NATIONZ will let the audience decide the topic of the speakers in votes through the Facebook page with the first opportunity to make your voice count starting later this week.

“We want the people who have paid to come to decide what they want to hear, obviously we will need to limit the range of topics available somewhat but want to cast a wide enough net to ensure we create diversity while giving everyone what they want.” states DIGITAL NATIONZ Lead Digi Head Peter Hall or as he’s more formally known Vector Arena New Business Development Manager.

DIGITAL NATIONZ is also announcing a unique twist to the event’s robot wars stage battles called BOT WARZ. By launching the ADOPT-A-BOT program DIGITAL NATIONZ is creating the world’s first ever crowd funded BOT WARZ, allowing you to “own” a piece of the action.

The idea is that anyone can contribute to one of the many BOT teams who will decide what level of "ownership" the contributor gets. It could be anything from their name being displayed on the screens during the matches to getting blog updates on progress or even naming the BOT itself. ADOPT-A-BOT will use the NZ site PledgeMe - www.pledgeme.co.nz/cp12 or visit www.DIGITALNATIONZ.com/robot-wars for more info and to register your interest.

DIGITAL NATIONZ EARLYBIRD TICKETS ARE PRICED AT JUST $14 PER DAY/$24 WEEKEND PASS AVAILABLE UNTIL 31ST AUGUST. DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR STUDENTS.

Tickets on sale NOW available from Ticketmaster -

www.Ticketmaster.co.nz- 0800 111999

www.DIGITALNATIONZ.com, Facebook.com/DIGITALNATIONZ or @DIGITALNATIONZ on Twitter for all the latest updates.

NAUGHTY DOG: Benson Russell

SENIOR DESIGNER

Speaker + Panelist + Q&A 28th-29th of September

Benson Russell is a fifteen-year veteran game designer who co-founded his first studio in 1998.

His original claim to fame was as the designer of the D-Day level in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for PC, which helped define the "wow moment" factor in gaming. Benson designed for the Star Trek license, the Medal of Honor franchise, and spent several years at the Electronic Arts Los Angeles studio on both game design and central technology teams.

Since 2007, Benson has been a senior designer at SCEA's Naughty Dog Studios in Santa Monica, CA and has worked on the Uncharted franchise (Drake's Fortune, Among Thieves, and Drake's Deception). His most recent title is the critically acclaimed The Last Of Us.

Thanks to our partnership with Media Design School we were able to bring Benson Russell to NZ.

University of Auckland, Auckland Bioengineering Institute: Dr Mark Sagar

Director Of The Laboratory For Animate Technologies

Speaker + Panelist + Q&A 28th-29th of September

Academy Award winner Mark Sagar is the director of The Laboratory for Animate Technologies based at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The laboratory's unique blend of research combines Bioengineering, Neuroscience and Interactive Computer Graphics and Vision and involves simulating the lifelike qualities and dynamic behaviours we experience when we engage with a person, through real-time computational models of Face and Brain interaction.

For the last 15 years, Dr. Mark Sagar has specialized in bringing computer generated faces to life in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters including “Avatar”, “King Kong” and "Spiderman-2". He has developed technologies for interactive applications and for feature films and has won two consecutive Scientific & Engineering Academy Awards for his pioneering work in computer generated faces. Dr Sagar is a recipient of the University of Auckland’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.

GRINDING GEAR GAMES: Jonathan Rogers

Technical Director

Speaker + Panelist + Q&A 28th-29th of September

Jonathan Rogers is the Technical Director of Grinding Gear Games, an independent studio based in Auckland that has been working for the last six years on New Zealand's largest game project, Path of Exile. Path of Exile is an Online Action RPG set in a dark fantasy world with a focus on deep character customisation. While still only in Open Beta, Path of Exile currently has over 2.9 million sign-ups and has a full release scheduled for later this year.

Grinding Gear Games was founded in November 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand. Its founding members come from various countries and have a selection of diverse backgrounds ranging from artificial intelligence and software security, to industrial design, to professional tournament game play.

Grinding Gear Games are currently developing Path of Exile, a competitive online action RPG. 

As veterans of various online role playing games, Grinding Gear Games understand what is required to make an addictive action RPG with visceral combat and a complex item economy.

PIKPOK: Tara Brannigan

Customer Relationship Manager

Speaker + Panelist + Q&A 28th-29th of September

Tara J. Brannigan has worked in the game industry for just shy of a decade. She has been everything from a QA Engineer to her most recent role as the Customer Relationship Manager at PikPok, with a wide range of roles in between. During her time at Microsoft she has worked on a variety of projects including the record-breaking and fan favourite 1 vs. 100 for Xbox Live, as well as a brief stint on the recently announced Project Spark. From there she spent just under two years at PopCap Games learning about the wonderful world of casual games as a Community Marketing Manager.

She is a recent addition to Wellington, where she joins the BAFTA nominated crew of PikPok games and their growing universe of zombies, unicorns, monsters and more.

She is a passionate advocate for the growing role of player engagement in game development and the idea that everyone can be a gamer. She is featured in the book How Geek Girls Will Rule the World, as well as the upcoming On Body and Soul: Contemporary Ornament.

When she’s not working, Tara can be found playing games, tinkering away on metalsmithing projects and spending far too much time on Twitter.

Thanks to our partnership with Media Design School we were able to bring Tara Brannigan to Auckland.

WETA WORKSHOP: Greg Broadmore

Conceptual Designer, Artist and Writer

Panelist + Q&A Sunday 29th of September

For over a decade, Greg Broadmore has worked as a key artist, writer and designer at Wellington’s Academy Award winning visual effects studio, Weta Workshop. Greg served as the head conceptual designer on the blockbuster film District 9, and has worked on a host of other world-class movie productions; including King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia and Black Sheep. 

Greg is also the creator of Dr. Grordbort’s – a retro-science fiction universe of rayguns, rocketships and raw male-idiocy. Originally a series of paintings made for his own pleasure, the world of Dr. Grordbort, spurred on by Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor, is now alive in every medium, from collectibles & art objects, to publishing and digital gaming creations. In the works are a feature film and videogame.

As an author, Greg has written and illustrated three books: DR. RORDBORT’S CONTRAPULATONIC DINGUS DIRECTORY (2008), VICTORY – Scientific Adventure Violence for Young Men and Literate Women (2009) and TRIUMPH - Unnecessarily Violent Tales of Science Adventure for the Simple and Unfortunate (2012).

The Dr. Grordbort science-fiction world including rayguns, art objects, books and illustrations are touring as a global art exhibition, most recently in China, Europe and the next the USA.

PLAY IT AGAIN: Dr Melanie Swalwell

Associate Professor, Screen and Media, Flinders University

Speaker + Panelist + QA 28th and 29th of September

Dr Melanie Swalwell researches the digital games history of New Zealand and Australia.  An Associate Professor in the Screen and Media Department at Flinders University, Melanie has published a suite of projects on New Zealand’s unique games history, and was keynote speaker at the 1st International History of Games conference, held in June in Montreal. 

Melanie leads the “Play It Again” research team, which in conjunction with its partners is researching the history and preservation of digital games in 1980s New Zealand and Australia.  She is looking forward to the launch of Play It Again’s “Popular Memory Archive”.

To find out more please visit: www.digitalnationz.com/speakers/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.