Guest Speakers

Morning Session


Gary Keith Brubaker, Director of The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University

Title: Manufacturing fun: Mixing creativity and software engineering in developing games.

Abstract: Fun is experiential and hard to define. It often takes many iterations to find the fun of a game. This is in stark contrast to good engineering practices that need well-defined specifications or user stories. Many techniques have developed to handle design changes during development. Commercial game development takes this to a new level. Games are entertainment and hit driven. If a game is not best of class, it probably is not profitable. Fad and fashion drive tastes and change quickly. Yet, games often take years to produce. This requires novel combination of strategies including Waterfall and Agile to compete in the market place.

This talk will cover the competitive market place for games and how this drives development best practices.


Gary Keith Brubaker was appointed Director of The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University in June 2012. Brubaker has extensive experience in the games industry, having served as a development director, a manager of core technology, and lead programmer. This breadth of knowledge has given Brubaker a well-rounded perspective of the game industry business, preparing him for his role as an educator and administrator.

Brubaker began his programming career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the Voyager and Galileo projects. He remembers playing one of the first (if not THE first) Pong machines in San Jose, California. But, he wanted more and quickly convinced one of his friends at Cal Tech to "loan" him time on the mainframes to play other early games. His first individual game project was on the Apple II, a Lunar Lander clone in the early 1980s.

Brubaker turned his passion for games into a career in 1992 when he joined LucasArts Entertainment. While there he worked on Rebel Assault, Shadows of the Empire, The Curse of Monkey Island, The Dig, and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine.

He later joined Stormfront Studios, where he worked on the Electronic Arts’ title Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. He also contributed to a number of other titles including Lego MyStyle. Gary moved to Dallas to join Atari/Paradigm as Manager of Core Technology. He led a group that created the engine for a number of Atari games including: Terminator 3: The Redemption, Mission Impossible: Operation Surma, Dungeon & Dragons Heroes and Backyard Baseball. Brubaker joined SMU in 2004, and has taught game studies, programming, and supervised master’s degree students in the programming specialization.

Brubaker received a B.A. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University.

Afternoon Session


Roger Altizer, of the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program, The University of Utah

Title: Designing Inside the Box: Fostering Creative Collaboration Through Constraint

Abstract: Playing with friends gets more difficult as people grow up. Yet, the creation of games with a purpose often requires highly interdisciplinary teams. Buy-in and ideation can be tough when creating a game that is both scholarly and creative. The Design Box offers an inductive, collaborative method of getting users, stakeholders, and partners to all participate in the design process. Dr. Altizer will unpack cases where good design not only helped create good software, but helped teams solve problems.


Roger Altizer, Jr. is the co-founder of the Entertainment Arts and Engineering, the top ranked game design program in the nation, the Director of Digital Medicine for the Center for Medical Innovation, the Director of The GApp lab (Therapeutic Games and Apps) and former director of the Center for Interdisciplinary art and technology at the University of Utah. Roger earned his Ph.D. in Communication at Utah and specializes in game design education and participatory design. Creator of The Design Box, an inductive design methodology, Roger works to include the audience as designers in his work. A former games journalist, he is an internationally recognized speaker who has presented at industry conferences such as the Games Developer Conference and Penny Arcade Expo, and academic conferences including the Digital Games Research Association and Foundations of Digital Games. He as made dozens of media appearances speaking on a variety of subjects ranging from games education to social and legal issues in games.