Burbank Arts For All Presents Forum

By On February 24, 2016

For one night only, guests will have the unique experience of discussing careers in the gaming industry with leading industry professionals and educators.

The gaming industry business has grown in the past couple of years, sometimes surpassing the total gross profits from cinema, recorded music, and DVD sales combined. The U.S. computer and video game industry generated $23.5 billion in revenue in 2015, according to data released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the NPD Group, whereas U.S. box office hit an estimated $11 billion in the same year, as reported by media measurement and research firm, Rentrak.

Through the Creative Circles Forum’s lively and thought-provoking conversation – followed by a hosted wine and cheese reception – guests will mix, mingle, and gain insider tips regarding this rapidly developing platform of the entertainment industry.

Burbank Arts for All Foundation’s Executive Director, Trena Pitchford, said, “We are thrilled to host this rare opportunity for our community to hear from the pros about the video game industry. From games designed for your smartphone to games on your home entertainment system, there are many opportunities for careers in this growing field at major studios and small businesses in Burbank and in our local region.

We believe arts education programs offered by Burbank Unified, including those supported by the Foundation, can provide necessary skills to begin a career in the gaming industry. It’s up to all of us to ensure that our students have the resources they need to succeed in life, and our Creative Circles Forum is just one way the Foundation brings the conversation full circle.”

At the Creative Circles Forum, the Foundation hosts 80 to 100 guests, including students, parents, artists, executives from the video game and entertainment industry, as well as city and community leaders who join us in support of arts education and the creative economy in Burbank. After the exciting conversation, the hosted wine and cheese reception will also include complimentary Poquito Más® Mini-Más™ Burritos!

All proceeds from the Creative Circles Forum will benefit Burbank Arts for All Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure every student in Burbank public schools receives a quality arts education as part of their core curriculum. For information regarding speakers and tickets log onto: http://www.burbankartsforall.org/creative-circles-forum

About the event:
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Place: The Colony Theatre, 555 N 3rd St, Burbank, CA 91502
Time: 7-9PM – Hour-long panel discussion followed by a hosted wine and cheese reception
Tickets: General admission: $20
Burbank Arts for All Foundation Community Circles Member admission: $10
BUSD High School Student admission: FREE with BUSD Student ID thanks to the generosity of a Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund grant
To purchase tickets: http://www.burbankartsforall.org/creative-circles-forum

About the distinguished moderator and expert panelists:

Timothy Ford is a lead software engineer for Gameplay and the upcoming Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment’s highly-stylized team-based multiplayer game set on a near-future earth, featuring a diverse cast of extraordinary characters embroiled in an epic, globe-spanning conflict. Ford is responsible for the team of engineers who write the game simulation, animation, and user interface. Alongside his team, Ford works in all aspects of gameplay code. Ford joined Blizzard Entertainment in 2009 as a senior gameplay engineer. Before joining the company, he served as the lead AI and animation programmer on the popular Medal of Honor series. Ford has invested a tremendous amount of time researching technology solutions to make game development more efficient and fun, and reaps the rewards of that research at Blizzard Entertainment. When he isn’t working, Timothy spends most of his free time with his wife, son, and daughter. He also enjoys watching movies and loves UCLA and Green Bay Packer football.

Peter Wyse oversees multiple studios for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: Monolith Productions, NetherRealm Studios, Rocksteady Studios, and WB Games Montréal. In addition, he’s also responsible for the publishing teams that handle Localization, Quality Assurance, and Production. During his time at Warner Bros., he has led production of their most successful games such as “Batman: Arkham City,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,” “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” and “Scribblenauts.” Prior to his current role, Peter has over 25 years’ experience working in production and creative development with 19 years focused in the gaming industry. Peter worked at Atari on “Unreal Tournament 2004”, and produced some of Disney Interactive’s most successful console games which included “A Bug’s Life”, “Toy Story 2” and “Kingdom Hearts.”

Rod Parong is a Principal Artist at Insomniac Games’s Burbank (Calif.) studio. He creates high- quality, AAA content for environments and cinematics, ranging from natural landscapes to cityscapes. Rod also manages outsourcing. During his time at Insomniac, Rod has worked on the award-winning Sunset Overdrive, developing the faction-themed bases, cinematic scenes, and main player’s apartment base. The game received several nominations for its vibrant art style and direction. Rod is credited with more than 25 titles from Insomniac Games and Novalogic Inc., including series from Ratchet & Clank, Resistance 2 & 3, and Delta Force: Blackhawk Down. In his free time, Rod enjoys spending time with his wife, being schooled by his son in video games, and developing his daughter’s artistic talents. He is an active volunteer with his church’s youth ministry where he enjoys serving as a summer camp counselor.

Chris Mitchell teaches the Digital Media classes at David Starr Jordan Middle School in Burbank.
This is his second year running the Jordan CougarLAB where students can explore a wide variety of digital media fields including computer graphics, video production, digital music, animation, motion graphics, coding, and game design as well as help produce the school yearbook and segments for the school video show, CougarVISION. Prior to coming to Jordan, Mitchell worked at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank for 25 years, starting as a Social Studies teacher and then moving into teaching Digital Media classes including web design, graphics, and video production. He has taught evening ROP classes for high school and adult students, summer GATE Technology classes, and after school computer enrichment programs for Video Production and Game Design. Chris got his first taste of game design in 9th grade, when he learned the BASIC programming language and was able to use it to program a football game on a TRS80 computer. He was an Economics Major at Occidental College and returned there to get his teaching credential. He has also enjoyed taking Graphic Design classes at Art Center in Pasadena to update his skills.

 William Novak, known professionally as simply “Novak,” is the Chair of the Department of Game Art & Design at Woodbury University. Novak has been designing and developing award-winning video games for 29 years, creating branded properties and original IPs for many game publishers, including Sony, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Sega of America, Nokia, Fox Interactive, Virgin Interactive, Simon and Schuster, the Haley Miranda Group, and Toyota/Scion. He started making games in 1982 as an assembly language programmer and designer at Sega’s Coin-Op division during the Golden Age of the Video Arcade and has been publishing games regularly ever since. While Project Designer at Mattel Toys, Novak received the Creative Excellence Award and also attained Mattel’s highest honor, receiving two Chairman’s Awards for his game design of Nintendo’s “Super Glove Ball” and for designing the interface used by the world’s first interactive TV show, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. Before his immersion in all things digital, Novak was a central figure in San Francisco’s emerging punk rock scene. He founded two independent record labels, Dumb Records and Nth Degree, and produced underground hit records for the most notorious first wave of SF bands such as The Nuns, Crime, The Readymades and The Survivors. Novak’s undergraduate studies focused on avant-garde electronic art and music composition. He was the studio assistant of the 20th century’s most influential composer and thinker, John Cage. He regularly gave lecture/demonstrations in local high schools with early synthesizer pioneer, Robert Moog, and produced many new music concerts for visiting experimental composers and artists, including Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Frederic Rzewski, Kenneth Gaburo, David Behrman, and Merce Cunningham. Novak is currently designing a casual iPad game with a focus on inventing state-of-the-art gameplay interfaces that fully exploit Apple’s touchscreen.

 Moderator Scott Pitchford is the Director of Research & Client Consulting for Nielsen Games (a division of The Nielsen Company). The Games division provides both primary custom research and syndicated services for the video game industry; including publishers, first party manufacturers, developers and agencies/advertisers. The team manages the video game vertical for Nielsen globally and has a deep knowledge of both consumers and the industry, including consumer behavior, traditional and mobile gaming, software, peripherals and hardware, and emerging trends in the category. One of Pitchford’s specific areas of focus is managing Nielsen’s Video Game Tracking service, a marketplace assessment tool that allows video game publishers to monitor the competitive mind share of all types of video game consumers for upcoming and recently released titles. Pitchford has over 15 years in entertainment research, with 10 years specific to the gaming industry. Prior to Nielsen Games he was Senior Analyst, Global Consumer Research for Vivendi Universal Games, handling all phases of qualitative studies (moderating focus groups, conducting user tests) and quantitative studies, for the marketing and playtesting initiatives of various video game releases. In his spare time, Pitchford is a gamer himself, a dedicated Seminole alumni and enjoys traveling with his wife and two sons.