Dorkbot:34 Innovation in Games


December 6, 2006 - 7:30pm


Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA
6413 Seaview Ave NW
Seattle, WA, 98107


Jordan Weisman and Elan Lee from 42 Entertainment will discuss their innovative approach to immersive, participatory entertainment, James Gwertzman from PopCap Games Inc. will share techniques for creating casual games, and Ruth Fruland, the Regional Coordinator for Games for Change will provide an overview of using games and game concepts for social change.



Jordan Weisman, 42 Entertainment, CEO

A creative visionary in the entertainment and media world for the past 25 years, Jordan is responsible for driving 42's overall creative vision and steering conceptual development on behalf of 42's clients and partners. In this role, Jordan provides hands-on direction to all 42's creative teams.

The creative motivating force behind the founding and success of a number of companies, Jordan launched his career in 1980 Jordan when he co-founded FASA Corp., and led the design and creation of game lines such as BattleTech, Shadowrun, and Crimson Skies. In 1987, Jordan and his partners founded VWE, and built the world's first virtual reality entertainment venue, The BattleTech Center. In 1992, members of the Disney family acquired a majority stake in VWE. In 1995 Jordan founded FASA Interactive to develop MechWarrior, a PC game that ultimately sold more than 11 million units. Microsoft acquired FASA Interactive in 1999 and Jordan assumed the role of Creative Director of Microsoft's Entertainment Division. In 2000, Jordan and Dawne Weisman founded WizKids, creating collectable miniatures games such as Mage Knight, Marvel HeroClix, and MechWarrior: Dark Age. Retail sales for WizKids products topped $100 million in 2002. In 2003, Jordan sold WizKids to The Topps Company.

Jordan has won over one hundred awards during his career, including election to the game designer's hall of fame by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design, and selection as Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003 by Ernst & Young.

Elan Lee, 42 Entertainment, Vice President, Experience Design

Elan has pioneered numerous breakthroughs in the area of entertainment and immersive gaming in his career. At 42, he is responsible for crafting the audience experience on innovative new projects, Elan and also plays a key role in the creation of the company's content-driven platforms. Elan started his career as a character designer at Industrial Light and Magic, where he worked on several motion pictures. In 1998 he became lead game designer at Microsoft Game Studios, designing and directing games for the PC and Xbox. Elan has served as Director and Lead Designer on numerous projects including Steven Spielberg's AI experience, "The Beast", and "ilovebees".

Elan's work has been featured in numerous publications around the world. As a pioneer in the field of immersive gaming, and interactive experiences, Elan is a frequent speaker at forums including the Game Developer's Conference, The Alternative Gaming Forum, and Intel Research Laboratories.

James Gwertzman, Director of Business Development, PopCap Games, Inc.

You should be making casual games!

Zuma The casual game industry has erupted out of nowhere in the past few years to become a major piece of the overall game industry, with revenues projected to top $1B by 2008. Small, addictive, fun, and aggressively mass-market, casual games are not only good business but they're also incredibly fun to produce. Who wants to spend years being part of a 100+ person team building a giant "blockbuster" game that will cost so much to build that its publisher is unwilling to take any creative risks, when you could be producing the equivalent of an "art house" film - a small, tight, creative game that will live and die in the market entirely by the merits of its actual game-play? And quite literally do so at home in the garage, with a very real chance at being successful?

Bejeweled Come to this talk to learn more about casual games, and also to get an overview of tools & resources available to you for free to help get you started creating the next great gaming masterpiece at home in your free time. James Gwertzman is the Director of Business Development for PopCap games, one of the leading casual game developers and publishers, but he's also got first-hand experience as an "indie" developer in this space, having co-founded Sprout Games (a small and successful casual game developer) prior to its acquisition by PopCap. As part of this talk James will also share some of the techniques that PopCap uses in developing its own best-selling casual games such as Bejeweled or Zuma.

Ruth Fruland, Ph.D., Research Associate, Human Interface Technology Lab (HITL), and Regional Coordinator, Games for Change

game screenshot

Ruth Fruland is the Northwest Coordinator of the national Games for Change organization, a subset of the Serious Games movement, and for several years have been spearheading a group called GaSworks, which is an informal group of people who share an interest in Games and Simulations in Education in the Puget Sound area. Her presentation will include some of the games and game concepts that people in this group have developed, in addition to what else is out there, or is on the horizon.


Open Dork / Show and Tell

YOU!!! Yes, if you have a project - any project, at any stage of completeness, an idea - any idea, at any stage of bakedness, an artwork - any kind of artwork at any stage of doneness, please do bring it along to the dorkbot meeting and claim your 10 minutes worth of fame after the presenters.