SXSW Gaming 2019 Programming Demonstrates The Power of Esports and More

SXSW Gaming 2019 Conference - Photo by Kurt Lunsford

SXSW Gaming programming strives to bring the most diverse and forward-thinking conversations to the festival every year, and 2019 will be no different.

Proposals in the 2019 PanelPicker® demonstrated that the gaming industry is quickly evolving in exciting directions. Speakers from all over the world will join us to talk about an array of topics in three different programming tracks: Game Design & Development, Game Marketing & Community and Esports Industry.

Spotlight on 2019 Programming:

Esports Industry

  • Bringing Esports to Sports: This panel will cover the challenges and successes of the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League as it integrated esports into traditional sports franchises. Speakers include Grant Paranjape, Director of Esports Business and Team Operations of Monumental Sports & Entertainment; Adam Rubin, Team Operations Manager at the Detroit Pistons; Colin Hayes, Director of Business Strategy of Bucks Gaming; and Claire Kaido, Director of Business Operations of Knicks Gaming and Madison Square Garden Company.

  • Capturing The Game: Storytelling In Esports: Nicola Piggott, Co-Founder of The Story Mob, will open a discussion on how esports fans interact with their heroes and what traditional sports can learn from evolving communication channels.

  • Esports: Player Development Best Practices: Matt Nashua, Director of Esports at Counter Logic Gaming, will discuss the benefits of providing centralized facilities for esports teams and explore the latest methods used to keep players in peak condition.

  • Esports and Music: Gustav Käll, Head of Esports and Gaming at Universal Music Group (UMG), will speak on the history of the development of the record label industry in the last 10 years and how music can be used to enhance games and esports.

  • Esports and Streaming Have Evolved Beyond Winning: This panel will discuss the changes in streaming, esports tournaments, and what this means for the future of the esports industry. Attendees will be able to hear the perspectives from streamers, esports teams, business owners and more to understand how new media opportunities have emerged. Speakers include Sabina Hemmi, Co-Founder and Productor Director at Elo Entertainment; Ashley Christenson, a Streamer, Host and Steam Coach; and Sebastian Park, Vice President of Esports for the Houston Rockets.

  • Esports as a Service: Guaranteeing a Future: Bethany Lyons, an Esports Analyst for SuperData Research, will talk about how esports publishers are working to create longer life cycles for their games; the rise and importance of franchising in esports; and how publishers entice advertisers and brands to bet on esports.

  • Leveling Up Your Next Esports Broadcast: This panel will feature professionals working in the esports industry in 2018 to discuss what is working within esports leagues and tournaments, what is not working, how to grow a following and and what the future looks like. Speakers include Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo; Shaun “Shonduras” McBride, Owner of Space Station Gaming; Sam Asfahani, Founder & CEO of OS Studios; and Tricia Sugita, COO at FlyQuest.

  • Leveraging Esports: The Value for Brands: This panel will discuss why brands should get involved in the esports industry and how it offers vital benefits in an increasingly digital world. Speakers include Andrew Paradise, CEO and Founder of Skillz Inc.; Nathan Lindberg, Director of Global Esports Sponsorships at Twitch; Kelly Cagney, Director of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing Communications at Turtle Wax; and Andy Swanson, Head of Publisher Relations at Discord.

Game Design and Development

  • Building Computationally Ridiculous Games: This session will discuss how hard it is to make a computationally complex game, the history of limits on users and NPCs in servers, and thoughts on what the future may look like where computing and massive networks play a role in expanding virtual populations to incredible sizes. Speakers include Royal OBrien, Game Tech Chief Evangelist at Amazon, and John Smedley, Studio Head of Amazon Game Studios San Diego.

  • The Business of Fun: Designing a Design Culture: This panel will discuss how various game design directors with products in a range of lifecycles reconcile their design disciplines with overall studio culture and the material impact this has on each company. Speakers include Greg Street, League of Legends Lead Game Designer at Riot Games, and John Erskine, VP of Publishing, CIG Texas Studio Director and founding team member of Cloud Imperium Games.

  • Connected Play: Gamifying The World Around Us: This panel will share perspective on the connected play industry, specific real-world examples of developing connected play products and experiences, how designers are creating new ways to gamify the world around us and what’s ahead for the future of play. Speakers include Valerie Vacante, Founder and Managing Partner at Collabsco; Phil Sage, Senior Director of Design & Development at iPlay and Hasbro; Krissa Watry, Founder and CEO of Dynepic; and Meir Biton, Founder and Chief Product Officer at StoryBall.

  • Don’t Knock it Off! IP Issues for Game Developers: Jennifer Kelly, Partner at Fenwick & West, will guide developers and publishers through key IP issues they should know as well as how to deal with both the shameless copying of their hit games and ensuring their own games don’t infringe on others’ rights.

  • The Technical Art of Bioware’s Anthem: This panel will highlight the art of Anthem, reflect on innovations in the game and recall the successes and challenges of creating a new IP for the world to enjoy. Speakers include Gracie Arenas Strittmatter, Technical Art Director at BioWare; Ben Cloward, CG Supervisor at BioWare; Jeff Vanelle, Principal Technical Artist of Bioware; and Katy Barber, Host and Producer of Kakebytes.

  • UX & Cognitive Science in Game Design: Celia Hodent, a freelance Game UX Consultant, will lead this session to offer an introduction of user experience and psychology in game development, with examples from Fortnite.

Game Marketing and Community

  • Blame Video Games! Shootings, Disease & Morality: This panel will discuss challenges posed by governments and agencies around the world and how you can have a deep impact in the gaming industry by learning about issues and making sure your voices help create a brighter future. Speakers include David Najjab, Director of Institutional Partnerships at Gearbox Software; Manuel Delgado, EVP of Strategy and Government Affairs at Six Foot; and Nika Nour, Head of Public Affairs & Strategic Advisor of the Entertainment Software Association.

  • Why Community-Driven Content is Key For Any CMO: This panel will explore the role of community and impacts of user-generated content from driving product development to developing marketing campaigns to hiring expert talent. Speakers include Taina Malen, COO/CMO of Star Stable Entertainment; Cathy Applefeld Olson, a freelance journalist and contributor to Cynopsis and Billboard; Rebecca Levey, CEO of KidzVuz; and Tyndie DuBose, Vice President of Partner Marketing at Nickelodeon.

  • Young Creators are the Future of Entertainment: This panel will discuss key learnings from young storytellers and how next-gen digital creators are driving consumption of entertainment in a way that will have lasting impacts on the business and legal foundation on which the entertainment industry has been built. Speakers include Grace Francisco, Vice President of Developer Relations at Roblox; Erin Wayne, Lead Community Manager for Twitch; and Ned Sherman, Counsel and Director of Manatt Digital at Manatt.

Meet Ups

  • Minorities In The Games Industry Meet Up: This meet up is a networking opportunity for individuals to meet people of similar backgrounds that work in or are looking to break into the gaming industry.

  • Texas Collegiate Esports Meet Up: This meet up gives students a snapshot into collegiate esports and will discuss what’s in store for the future of the industry.

  • Texas Video Game Students Meet Up: This meet up is for students looking to network and begin a career in the gaming industry. Students and instructors from local schools will be available to discuss the different areas of focus that are available for a career in gaming as well as the full range of game development programs available at colleges and universities throughout Central Texas.

Join Us for SXSW Gaming 2019

3-Day wristbands are now available at the early bird rate of $39 — a $10 savings on the walk-up rate in March! Book your hotel early to get the best available housing rates and selections.

Attendees with 3-Day wristbands receive entry into Gaming programming and special events, along with access to a world-class exhibition featuring the latest games and gaming technology, major esports tournaments and so much more. For a taste of what to expect in March, check out some of the 2018 SXSW Gaming sessions here.

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SXSW Gaming 2018 Featured Session with Team Liquid CEO Steve Arhancet – Photo by Kurt Lunsford


Pam Renteria

Gaming Marketing Specialist

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