Play by Play.

International games festival

17th-22nd April 2017

Wellington, New Zealand

Industry professionals from all over Australia and New Zealand are descending upon Wellington late April to share their knowledge with the game development community - from designing megagames to the use of pink. Find out below just who'll be presenting at the 2017 Play by Play Conference!


Amy Potter

Founder, Leaping Tiger

An eighties baby and a nineties kid at heart, Amy is most in her element when surrounded by games, art and technology. In 2014 Amy co-founded Leaping Tiger, a social platform for gamers, and since then has found herself wearing many different hats on any given day—most often designer, product owner, brand manager and marketer. A self-professed side project lover, she now juggles the start-up business life, alongside a pretty full on Twitch streaming schedule, with a bit of games writing and presenting thrown into the mix.

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Brianna Fromont

Junior Artist, Aurora44

Brianna Fromont is a game artist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She always had a love for the arts, but gaming became a later choice. Specifically during the last open week for submitting her portfolio. During her studies, she attended Media Design School and completed her Bachelor of Creative Technologies. She was the co-founder and lead artist of Itsfine games, which released their first title: Split. It was there she found her passion for games and their creation. Brianna moved on from Auckland, and now is currently a Junior Artist for Aurora44. She is always on the lookout for learning and discussing new ideas!



Claire Barilla

Ad Operations, PikPok

Claire is a game developer and advocate for women and diversity in games, with a passion for making beautiful and strange things! Claire has co-founded and managed an indie start up, she was named as MVC pacific's 100 Women in games and a 30 Under 30 in 2016. She is a frequent volunteer, ambassador and speaker, delivering panels and talks most recently at GDC in San Francisco this year.


Demi Schänzel

User Experience Designer, TradeMe

Part-time poet and occasional code noodler, Demi has been known to dabble in all manner of things, from light installations to softly-written prose and occasional stumblings into game design. They possess a soft fondness for surreal procedural design, and their bedside stool is often found brimming with long-forgotten teacups as they mumble away at some code well into the earlier hours of the morning. However, in a professional sense they may be considered a classic pixel pusher, pushing pixels and mapping out how people flow through our sites; ensuring they’re not met with any qualms or undue misery.

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Dr. Dillon Burke

Force Development Analyst, NZDF

Dillon holds degrees in history, strategic studies and political science. He has worked as a policy analyst for ACC, NZQA and the Ministry of Social Development, and is currently employed by the New Zealand Defence Force as a military futurist. Dillon started gaming with historical board games in the 1970s, roleplaying in the 1980s, and in the 1990s he started running large one-off multiplayer games at conventions, usually set at a grand strategy level with multiple competing teams. Dillon's interests include gaming, military history, and medieval martial arts. He lives in Wellington.


Dylan Beck

Gameplay Designer/Programmer, Runaway Play | Twitch Streamer

Dylan has been in the gaming industry since 2013, working as a part of the Runaway team in Dunedin, NZ on games such as Splash: Ocean Sanctuary, and has recently taken up a design role on an as-of-yet unannounced title. He may be better known under his nom-de-plume Rudeism - a Twitch streamer who has carved a niche for himself using non-traditional control methods, such as DDR dance mats, Nerf bows, or even bunches of bananas to play games like World of Warcraft, Overwatch and much more.


Emre Can Deniz

Director, Opaque Space

Emre Deniz has been working in Virtual Reality for the past four years, being one of the first developers in Australia to work on the HTC Vive as well as having worked as both lead game designer and artist on multiple projects in Virtual, Augmented and Mobile experiences. Emre has previously worked with international partners such as Microsoft, Google and Epic on projects such as the award winning Virtual Dementia Experience to the internationally recognized Earthlight. Emre currently is a Director at the newly established Opaque Space, working with partners such as HTC, Epic and NVIDIA to bring space-based VR experiences to both consumers as well as provide assets, systems and content for NASA laboratories working on virtual reality training for astronauts. 


Jair McBain

Creative Director/Producer, Wymac Gaming Solutions | ex. GREE, Twitch

Jair is a game designer, turned producer from Melbourne, Aus. He has previously worked on mobile titles with Sony, Nexon, Disney, GREE and VR/ 2D touch installation titles with Wymac Gaming Solutions. Jair is currently working on an unannounced new IP and PC title with Wymac and a major commercial partner. Jair is the co-director of 2Ginge, a small start up developer committing their efforts towards tools for Unity and iOS/ PC games launched late 2016.


Dr. Jennifer Hazel

Founder & Executive Director, Checkpoint

Jennifer is a fully qualified medical doctor who has practised in both the UK and Australia. She spent several years working in the Emergency Department before specialising in Psychiatry. Jennifer is a passionate advocate for the use of game technology in the therapeutic setting. To this end, she founded CheckPoint, a nonprofit organisation to connect mental health care with video game technology, where she contributes to clinical research and works with both games industry and clinical professionals to provide education, consultation and resources.


John Kane

Game Designer/Developer, Gritfish

John Kane is a game designer and developer working for the past five years under the name Gritfish. Gritfish is best known for the sci-fi narrative Killing Time at Lightspeed and cute puzzle game Mallow Drops. Both games were short-listed for the "Across The Ditch" Award at last year's PlayByPlay festival. His games have also featured at the IndieCade festivals in Paris and Los Angeles, and been awarded Australian Game Developer Awards for Design, Innovation and Representation.


Lauren Clinnick

Managing Director, Lumi Consulting

Lauren is a marketing maven in the games industry, co-founding Lumi Consulting with Katie Gall as Managing Director. She loves games driven by story and emotion, and is drawn to innovation in all forms. An advocate for creativity, sustainability and diversity in the industry, Lauren is a GDAA Committee Member and the MCV Pacific Women in Games Ambassador for 2016.


Maddi Baird

Visual Novelist, Independent

Deep in the wilds of Northland (the region, not the suburb), Maddi pursues solo development of queer visual novels -- at least until they can train the local birdlife to help. Their first project, Inverness Nights, will be released at some point in Autumn. Outside of this work, they've recently finished their Master's thesis in Media Studies on the topic of cultural engagement in video-game worlds at the University of Auckland. They're looking forward to sharing an adapted chapter from this thesis with you in their Play By Play talk this year.


Mike Clephane

Managing Director & Co-Founder, Synty Studios

Mike has worked around Wellington for almost a decade now, starting his career as a 3D artist at PikPok (Sidhe Interactive), later working with a small indie dev team called Big Block Games out of a living room. Most recently he's spent 5 years at Weta Digital in the Models and then the Virtual Art Department. Mike's latter work consisted of real-time characters, props and environments for virtual stage motion capture shoots. It was during his time at Weta Digital that he co-founded a game art production house called Synty Studios, which he now does full time. They produce high quality art assets on the Unity and Unreal stores.

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Mitch Cramer

Freelance Video Editor, HeavyEyed

Mitch is a freelance video editor for gaming YouTube channels and also runs his own channel called HeavyEyed where he discusses indie games and looks at game design analytically. His life since he was fifteen has been spent in creative fields such as playing in bands, audio engineering, graphic design, video editing and now game development, having just started work on his very first game.


Nick Jones

Narrative Designer, Punk Writer Ltd.

Nick Jones is a short story author, and internationally recognized Narrative Designer. Nick is one of the lead writers for the acclaimed MMORPG Path of Exile having contributed heavily to their highly anticipated 6-act story expansion The Fall of Oriath due for release in the coming months. Asides from Path of Exile, Nick works as the lead writer for OrbusVR an American MMORPG and one of the first of its kind to be written for virtual reality. Nick holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English/New Media and is currently completing a Master’s Thesis on VR storytelling at Auckland University of Technology.


Charlie McDermott

Creative Producer & Technologist, Augusto

Charlie is a Producer and Entrepreneur with over fifteen years of experience in storytelling. His passion is to create powerful narratives that offer an “un-downloadable” experience. Charlie’s successful immersive theatre piece The Generation of Z brought together bleeding-edge technology, blockbuster-level special effects and award winning theatrical actors to provide an interactive Zombie Horror which appeared in the Edinburgh Fringe festival, before doing a four-month season in London in 2015. Charlie contributed to the 2016 Digital Jam VR Writers Room White Paper alongside notable figures such as Jeff Gomez, Rhianna Pratchett, Andi Ewington and Tanya Laird.

His current project, PLEASUREDOME is a dirty urban musical which is being produced alongside Rob Tapert (Evil Dead, Xena, Spartacus).


Richard Durham

Great-Grand-Lord-High-Everything, Wondertree

Take a breath and get ready for some comma splices! Ready? Going backwards in time, Rich has learning-designed for Unitec institute of technology, dreamt up street-style and event games with the great people at Wild Streets, made a mega game for Four Paws Vietnam, agonised over various table-top games for social good organisations, played around with hobby games, taught science for ten wonderful years, and improv-theatred the crap out of high-school kids while there. Individual projects are probably less important than the journey, as he's learned heaps from collaborating with great people from walks of life so foreign to my own.


Saf Davidson

Writer/Narrative Designer, Freelance

Saf is a storyteller, podcaster, and sometimes robot queen known for her vast array of nerdy podcasts and her strong feelings on ladies with blue skin. From co-hosting the podcast Western Reaches, to freelancing as a writer and narrative designer for indie games, Saf spends most of her time thinking, writing, or talking about games. The rest of her time is spent writing short stories and serials, or yelling about Star Wars.

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Tom O'Brien

Game Designer, Aurora44

Tom is a maker at heart. With a love of creating and a love of sharing, he aims to get people designing and playing games in a much more social way - turning game development into something that can really bring people together. Tom has done numerous talks over the past few years, presenting at last year's Play by Play, NZGDC and most recently at GDC in San Francisco.


Victoria Kershaw

Community Manager, PikPok

Victoria is a Social Media Manager and Community Builder based in Wellington. She is currently the sole Community Manager at PikPok. During the past two years her passion for social media has helped created vibrant engaged communities for PikPok's core titles. She has also supported and championed the launch of 7+ titles across mobile, VR, Apple TV and Steam. Her other passion is making beautiful and quirky things, including sassy enamel pins under her personal brand ‘Oh you fox'.

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Victoria Smith

3D Artist, PikPok

Victoria is a 3D Artist working at PikPok and an independent game developer in her spare time. She has worked on a handful of PC and mobile titles, including Top Gear: Drift Legends, and has been enthusiastically involved in game communities around the country for many years. She has taught game development workshops to high school girls during the annual the Girls In Games program, and was a 2016 Women In Games Ambassador for the IGDA Foundation. Victoria has also given talks at the inaugural Play by Play Conference and the New Zealand Game Developers Conference.