Featured Speakers

ESC is happy to highlight our first keynote speaker, Dr. Kimberly Voll!

Dr. Kimberly Voll is a technical game designer specializing in player dynamics and artificial intelligence. She has spoken around the world on design best practices as well as the social implications of games and digital culture. At Riot Games she has been a principal game designer and the Head of Player Dynamics, and recently started her own studio, Stray Bombay Company that will be focusing on co-op games. Kim also co-founded the Fair Play Alliance, a 100+ company professional group focused on reducing hate and harassment in video games through design. In her spare time, Kim has been a long-time indie with several titles in the market, including Fantastic Contraption for VR.

Introducing our second keynote speaker, Dr. Bonnie Ruberg!

Bonnie Ruberg, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of digital games and interactive media in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine.  Their research explores gender and sexuality in digital media and digital cultures with a focus on topics like queerness in video games and gender-based harassment in live streaming. They are the author of Video Games Have Always Been Queer (2019, New York University Press) and the co-editor of Queer Game Studies (2017, University of Minnesota Press). Ruberg is also the co-founder and co-organizer of the annual Queerness and Games Conference. They received their Ph.D. with certification in New Media and Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and served as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Interactive Media and Games Division at the University of Southern California.

Introducing our third keynote speaker, Kurt Melcher!

Kurt Melcher is the Executive Director of Esports at Intersport and Robert Morris University in Chicago, IL. Through his efforts, RMU became the first university to recognize esports as part of the athletic department and offer athletic scholarships to gamers, helping to legitimize the world of collegiate esports. An athletic administrator and coach for over 15 years, Melcher recognized the core educational elements involved in traditional sports and believes the same hold true for esports. Recently the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) selected Intersport to lead the research and ideation surrounding the association’s potential role in collegiate esports. Mr. Melcher’s visionary program has been highlighted in a number of prominent news sources including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, ESPN, NPR, HBO Real Sports and in the documentary film All Work All Play.