logo for Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2009)

Tan Le: The Brain - Revolutionary Interface for Next-Generation Digital Media

The communication between man and machine has always been in a conscious form. Whether its as simple as turning on and off the lights with a switch or as complex as programming a piece of software, man has always consciously directed or given explicit commands to a machine to perform a particular task. Non-conscious communication exists only in communication amongst humans. At Emotiv, we believe that future communication between man and machines will not only be limited to the conscious communication of today, but non-conscious communication will play a significant part. Our mission is to create the Ultimate Interface for the next generation of man-machine interaction, taking inputs direct from your mind, revolutionizing human-computer input in the same way the graphic user interface did 20 years ago.

Tan Le, co-Founder & President of Emotiv Systems, is a technology entrepreneur. Before she joined Emotiv, Tan cofounded and ran SASme, a pioneer in providing SMPP platforms to telecommunication carriers and content aggregators, and one of the companies responsible for the creation of Australia's SMS application market. Tan helped grow SASme from its humble beginnings to a thriving company with multiple markets worldwide. Tan has also worked with one of Australia's leading law firms, Freehills.

In 1998, Tan was named Young Australian of the Year (the most prestigious prize for an Australian) and voted one of Australia's 30 Most Successful Women Under 30. At the age of twenty-one, Tan graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws (with Honors) from Monash University.

Tan was a Special Visitor to the United Kingdom as a guest of the British High Commission and Foreign Commonwealth Office, a Goodwill Ambassador for Australia in Asia, and a Patron of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program. Tan has been an Ambassador for the Status of Women since 2001, and she's also been appointed to a number of prominent Boards, including Plan International Australia, Australian Citizenship Council, National Committee for Human Rights Education in Australia, and RMIT Business in Entrepreneurship.

Matt MacLaurin: Kodu - end-user programming and design for games

Project Kodu is a kid-friendly game design and programming environment which enables non-technical users to create complete games - including AI" behaviors - using only an XBox 360 controller for input. Kodu includes a novel graphical programming environment based on a concurrent rule system derived from contemporary robotics practice. This language is approachable - it can be mastered by 10-year-olds - yet expressive, and can be used to implement a broad array of game genres. In addition to behavior editing, Kodu integrates terrain and level design - providing a full-spectrum game design system that is accessible to 9-year-olds (and their parents) running on the XBox 360 or a Windows PC.

Kodu has been developed over two years in Microsoft Research in collaboration with the XNA Team. It has been in pilots with children as young as 9 for over a year and undergone hundreds of hours of usability testing on both the user interface and the language itself. In this talk, well provide an in-depth look at Kodu including the design of the programming language, pilot programs with Kodu in schools around the world, and the motivations of the Project Kodu team at Microsoft Research.

Matt MacLaurin is the instigator and leader of the Kodu project. As Principal Program Manager in the Creative Systems team at Microsoft Research, MacLaurin investigates the intersection of creativity, entertainment, and social media, with a particular emphasis on how sharing affects creativity and the different roles that form naturally within online creative communities. Previously at Microsoft, MacLaurin ran a team within the Windows organization responsible for key innovations in user interface, search, and animation in the Windows Shell for Vista and Windows 7.

Prior to Microsoft, MacLaurin worked as a senior engineer / scientist at Apple Computer where he studied advanced interactive media authoring environments, invented a new formal grammar for user interface, and wrote the user interface framework for the Dylan-based version of Newton - one of the first consumer-focused operating systems written in managed code.

Between Apple and Microsoft, MacLaurin founded and ran a successful interactive media consulting agency conducting advanced research and product development for clients such as New Line Cinema, Apple, Creative Systems, MCA, Silicon Graphics, Thorne EMI, Paramount, Dreamworks, Capitol Records and Virgin Interactive, including the brand introduction campaign for Mac OS, the first large-scale social media systems for the music industry, and advanced character animation systems for 3D environments. He is named as an inventor on over 60 patent filings.

Chris Satchell - Evolution of the medium: Positioning for the future of gaming

The game industry is changing and maturing; the definitions of what games are, who makes them and who consumes them are constantly shifting and expanding. More than ever, we are seeing an increase in options and more opportunities for graduates looking for professional careers in games and even more avenues for research to explore the gaming medium.

This talk examines the key trends that are changing the landscape of gaming as a medium that is broadening beyond traditional gamers, creators as an evolving workforce and gamers as an expanding consumer base. Drawing on experience and research at Microsoft in these arenas, concrete implications and suggestions for education and research are outlined. The goal is to help frame how academic change can capitalize on this ecosystem evolution. The opportunity is not only to position for the future industry, but to partner with industry to drive what this future looks like.

This talk will depict these trends together to present a vision of how the industry may look in 5 to 10 years, based on current industry evolution and increased influence from the academic community.

As Chief Technology Officer for the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) at Microsoft, Chris Satchell is responsible for technical strategy and execution across the gaming business at Microsoft; Xbox, Games for Windows, Xbox Live and Microsoft Game Studios. Working across IEB, the CTO office draws together the best technical leaders and architects to realize on the incredible work and opportunities from the gaming product teams. Satchell is also directly responsible for all Microsoft game development platforms and services through the XNA organization.

Satchell joined Microsoft in 2002 as a Development Manager in Microsoft Game Studios (MGS), working on critically acclaimed franchises such as Project Gotham Racing, Rallisport Challenge, Forza and Fable. He was Director of Engineering for Microsoft Game Studios before moving to be part of the Xbox 360 senior management team through the launch of the console. Most recently Satchell was the General Manager of XNA, responsible for all Microsoft game development technology and services.

Prior to Microsoft, Satchell has a long history in games development; serving as an Executive Director at The 3DO Company, Technical Director for Silicon Dreams ltd and an Artificial Intelligence specialist and Project Leader for Eidos Interactive PLC. In previous lives Satchell has been an engineer on Safety Critical Railway Systems, conducted post-graduate research into distributed artificial intelligence and been a strangely happy barman in Britain's longest bar.

Dave Swanson - Beyond the Sweet Spot

With many game makers hitting their stride in developing for the powerful and diverse consoles of our current generation, EA SPORTS veteran Dave Swanson explores the unsolved problems still facing dev teams and strategies for innovating beyond this sweet spot in the cycle. One of the original employees at EA Tiburon, home to Madden NFL football and other top sports franchises, Swanson will examine engineering and design challenges and opportunities as seen through the sports genre, where annual development fuels innovation and allows for more creative risks that are too often dismissed during times of industry consolidation . Game development process, resource management, sku planning, platform proliferation and core online innovation are all topics Swanson will address with specific strategies and tactics that all game developers can apply to their businesses.

Dave Swanson is a Senior Development Director with EA SPORTS, the number one video game brand in the world. EA SPORTS is comprised of 1600 employees who are responsible for the development of numerous top-selling and award winning video games including the Madden NFL, FIFA, NBA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, NASCAR, NHL, NCAA Football and Basketball franchises. In his role, Dave oversees game play and graphics for the football titles created in Orlando, Florida. Dave studied Computer Engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology. In 1995, Dave joined Tiburon Entertainment which was later acquired by Electronic Arts after the success of Madden 96 through Madden 98. Dave was the lead Software Engineer on Madden 97 through 2002 and has since held a variety of technical and management roles in the organization.