BossaNova:MTL Logo
May 10-14, 2021 :: Online Event :: GamePlay Space

What is BossaNova:MTL?

BossaNova:MTL is a new event dedicated to studio, project and team leaders, as well as game developers interested in leadership. BossaNova:MTL will provide a focused environment for knowledge sharing and connecting with your peers, 100% around the topic of leadership. This 5-day online summit is part of the new programming calendar from GamePlay Space - a hub that serves the game developer community and promotes sharing and knowledge exchange.

When is BossaNova:MTL?

BossaNova:MTL will take place May 10-14, 2021. Registration for this online summit is open! We look forward to welcoming you.

What is the format of BossaNova:MTL?

BossaNova:MTL features conversations, panels, and presentations on leadership, studio culture, diversity & inclusion, employee engagement, leading from a distance, and gaming industry leadership journeys. To avoid #ZoomFatigue, there is only one talk each day, along with one roundtable and two networking events throughout the week. See the detailed schedule below.

A big thank you to our speakers & moderators for taking the time to share their leadership knowledge and experience with us.
Speakers presented in alphabetical order.

Dan Bernardo,
Playtra Games

Maximizing Creative Teams: Case Studies on Studio Culture and Inclusion

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Born a games geek and growing up as a design nerd, Dan has degrees in Anthropology and Graphic Design. He specialised in developing equity-based diverse and collaborative company cultures, spearheading Creative departments and eventually working as Vice President Creative for a range of tech companies. In 2019, Dan decided to follow his childhood dream and founded Playtra Games, an independent game studio, which quickly grew into a team of 9 diverse staff.

Although new in the game industry, Dan is already making his mark. He was selected as one of the 100 Game Changers by GameIndustry.biz for his work advocating for alternative narrative structures and cultural diversity in games as well as mentoring and giving talks on those subjects during game events around the world, including PAX, PGC, CGC, BFI and DEVCOM.

Dan now sits at the Devcom Advisory Board, working to ensure its initiatives are as inclusive and relevant to the wider community as possible.

His studio, Playtra, is currently working on its first game for PC and Consoles called Grid Force Saga- Mask of the Goddess, a fast-paced action/strategy game, winning various awards, including the World Game Development Championship chapter and the ROKiT Global PitchFest where they came up at first place among more than 400 game projects.

Chelsea Blasko,
Iron Galaxy Studios

The Leadership Journey:
Personal Stories of Challenge and Triumph

Thursday, May 13th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

As Iron Galaxy’s Co-CEO, Chelsea Blasko runs the company’s day-to-day operations. She maintains the well-being of its employees and the culture of the studio, overseeing IT, HR, DEI, mentorship programs and more. Chelsea has been instrumental in Iron Galaxy’s growth and high employee retention. Upon coming to Iron Galaxy, she shared her production expertise and quickly took over the entire company’s production department and internal operations. She proactively led its hiring, expansion and culture development to help shape the studio’s elevation from 13 to close to 200 employees across multiple offices. A University of Notre Dame graduate, Chelsea found her start in games at Electronic Arts Chicago and also spent a few years at Robomodo.

Jamie Cheng,
Klei Entertainment

Building Klei: A Conversation with Jamie Cheng

Monday, May 10th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Jamie Cheng is the founder and CEO of Klei Entertainment, the makers of a wide variety of titles including Don't Starve, Mark of the Ninja and Oxygen Not Included. These days his time is split between game design and business strategy.

Jason Della Rocca,
Execution Labs

Jason is BossaNova:MTL's MC!


Jason Della Rocca is a game industry entrepreneur, funding advisor, and cluster expert. He specializes in business/partnership development, pitching/funding, and ecosystem/cluster development.

As the co-founder of Executions Labs, he was a hands-on early-stage investor to over 20 independent game studios from North America and Europe. Between 2000-2009 he served as the executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). He was honoured for his industry-building efforts with the inaugural Ambassador Award at the Game Developers Conference. In 2009, Jason was named to Game Developer Magazine's "Power50", a list that profiles 50 of the most important contributors to the game industry’s state. As a sought-after expert on the game industry, Jason has lectured at conferences and universities worldwide.

Chandana 'Eka' Ekanayake,
Outerloop Games

The Leadership Journey: Personal Stories of Challenge and Triumph

Thursday, May 13th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Chandana 'Eka' Ekanayake is Co-founder and Studio Director at Outerloop Games, a minority-led, fully distributed indie game studio that creates accessible games with depth about underrepresented culture and themes. Prior to starting Outerloop, Eka was an art director, game designer, and producer for over twenty years various game studios including Uber Entertainment, Gas Powered Games, Shiny Entertainment, and Bethesda Game Studios.

Cara Ely,
King

The Leadership Journey: Personal Stories of Challenge and Triumph

Thursday, May 13th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Cara Ely is an empathetic creative leader with over 20 years of experience, responsible for best-selling games and franchises that have delighted more than 100 million players. Passionate about casual games, she disrupted the hidden object market by creating the best-selling Dream Day series, which has generated over 70 million downloads to date. Her roles at Sierra, Oberon Media, Zynga, Popcap, and now King have allowed her to work on almost every casual genre, with teams in the US, China, Sweden, India, Russia, and Spain. Currently, she lives in Barcelona, working on new IP development for King.

Lidi Giroux,
East Side Games

Maximizing Creative Teams: Case Studies on Studio Culture and Inclusion

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Lidi Giroux made her entrance into the games industry in 2013, when she joined East Side Games. A few years and more than a few tattoos later, she now plays a key role in developing and maintaining the truly unique culture at ESG, a studio that creates humorous and addictive mobile games in Vancouver, BC. She also happens to throw the best industry parties, uniting indies worldwide under the banner Indie Power.

A 20 year administrative and operations veteran, her involvement beyond the studio speaking at conferences and educating students on the beauty of the gaming and tech sector across Canada.

Lidi is obsessed with creating inclusive and diverse work culture, engaging communities, bikes, dogs, and wine.

Renee Gittins,
IGDA

Level Up as a Leader: Closing Discussion

Friday, May 14tth, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Renee Gittins is the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and a multi-disciplinary leader with expertise in software engineering and creative direction. She is a passionate advocate and connector for developers and diversity in the game industry, with a background that spans across engineering, design, and production. She is outspoken about initiatives to increase diversity both within the game industry and gaming overall to help the game industry grow and improve for everyone.

Jesse Houston,
Phoenix Labs

Level Up as a Leader: Closing Discussion

Friday, May 14th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Jesse Houston is an industry veteran in the gaming space, having started his career in 2000. Jesse is the CEO and co-founder of Phoenix Labs, which he and the other co-founders formed to bring players together through deep multiplayer games. Previously, he held key leadership roles at both Riot Games on League of Legends, and BioWare on the Mass Effect series. He also served as Production Director at Ubisoft, overseeing Project Management, Pipeline Planning, Development and Design, among other responsibilities.

Leah Hoyer,
Wizards of the Coast
(Kid's Studio)

Level Up as a Leader: Closing Discussion

Friday, May 14th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Leah Hoyer is the Vice President of Creative for Wizards of the Coast’s new Kids Gaming Studio. She has developed and produced television series, video games, and interactive experiences for some of the world’s most successful companies (Disney, Xbox, Telltale Games, Bungie) for nearly twenty years. She is also the Founder and Creative Director of immersive mobile studio Level Headed Games. For the past decade, she has focused on interactive storytelling across various media. She is passionate about supporting diverse voices in entertainment and working to make everyone feel that gaming is for them.

Cardell Kerr,

Proletariat

Roundtable on Leading a Team When Working From Home: Wins & Challenges

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
10
-11 AM EDT

Cardell Kerr has had the pleasure of working in games for about two decades, focusing on multiplayer games. Cardell started working in all aspects of design for MMOs before transitioning over to MOBAs and working to transition a waterfall studio into an agile one with the aid of his directors. Now, Cardell works at Proletariat on Spellbreak, a game simultaneously launched on PC/PS4/XBOX and Switch in September of 2020! Cardell spends his days coordinating the team and ensuring that they hit the goals they set for themselves.

Tim Morten,
Frost Giant Studios

Level Up as a Leader: Closing Discussion

Friday, May 14th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Tim Morten began his career at Activision in 1994, first as an engineer, then as a project lead. Tim co-founded Savage Entertainment in 1998, where he acted as CEO and project lead. Subsequently, he served in project leadership roles at Electronic Arts, Sony Playstation, and then Blizzard Entertainment, where he was the Production Director for the StarCraft franchise. In 2020, Tim co-founded Frost Giant, an independent studio located in Orange County, California, on a mission to build the next great real-time strategy game. Tim has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego, and he's an avid fan of the outdoors when he isn't working.

Dr. Kristen Toohill,
Happy Brain Science

Engaging Your Employees to do Great Work, Happily

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Dr. Kristen Toohill believes that games are powerful tools for organizational development. She writes books that use the interactivity and immersion of games to solve issues that face organizations today, such as reducing unconscious bias and learning 21st-century human skills. She also uses games as training and development tools in organizations and classrooms, and consults with organizations that understand the importance of fun and joy in the workplace.

Kristen has worked as a Quality Assurance Tester and SCRUM Master on a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), as well as designed systems and assisted in game design at Green Tree Games and Revelian, respectively. She is currently an associate producing the video-game version of an organizational development card game at Happy Brain Science.

Kristen received her Doctorate in Leadership Psychology and Organizational Development at William James College and her Master’s degree in Business Innovation from Northeastern University.

Sophie Vo,
Voodoo

Maximizing Creative Teams: Case Studies on Studio Culture and Inclusion

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
2-3:30 PM EDT

Sophie Vo is a creative lead with over twelve years of experience in the mobile gaming industry, currently leading a small creative studio with Voodoo in Berlin. Additionally, Sophie is the founder of Rise and Play: a platform on leadership practices advocating for a human-centric approach to game development and teams.

Click on the image to add the events to your own calendar!

Monday, May 10, 2021


Building Klei:

A Conversation with Jamie Cheng

2-3:30 PM EDT

To kick off the Game Leadership Summit, we’ll meet with Jamie Cheng, Founder and CEO of Klei Entertainment, to discuss his approach to leadership and the 15-year journey of Klei’s rise to success.

This event includes a 30-minute informal discussion with your peers on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please.

Jamie Cheng from Klei Entertainment

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


Maximizing Creative Teams:

Case Studies on Studio Culture and Inclusion
2-3:30 PM EDT

Our three panelists will talk about how they built up an inclusive studio culture and give tips on how best to support creative teams.

This event will be followed by a 30-minute informal discussion with your peers on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please.


Coffee Break
3:30-4 PM EDT

Join us for a coffee break which will be hosted on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please. You can chat about your favourite parts of the summit with fellow attendees.

Lidi Giroux from East Side Games, Sophie Vo from Voodoo & Dan Bernardo from Playtra Games

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Roundtable on Leading a Team When Working From Home: Wins & Challenges
10-11 AM EDT

Join your peers to share and discuss the successes and struggles of leading a team when working remotely. This event will be moderated by Cardell Kerr from Proletariat.



Engaging Your Employees to do Great Work, Happily
2-3:30 PM EDT

Workshop led by Dr. Kristen Toohill

Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their jobs and companies; they go the extra mile for their employer. Engagement leads to improved productivity, quality, retention and profits. So how do you get an engaged employee? This research-based, interactive session will teach you concrete, immediately applicable techniques to raise employee engagement. Explore…

  • Drivers of employee engagement (alignment, progress, significance, development, relationships and more) and how to deliver them in your organization.

  • The forces that drive employees to disengage, and how to avoid those.

  • How “minding the GAPs” is the key to engaging employees.

  • Learn the science behind engagement, and the practical steps any organization can take to boost engagement, and therefore the bottom line.

Cardell Kerr from Proletariat

Dr. Kristen Toohill from Happy Brain Science

Thursday, May 13, 2021


The Leadership Journey:

Personal Stories of Challenge and Triumph
2-3:30 PM EDT

Three leaders will interview each other about their leadership journey. They will dig into leadership and management best practices and challenges, their leadership failures, why being a good manager does not equate to being a good leader and provide key takeaways for aspiring leaders.

This event is followed by a 30-minute informal discussion with your peers on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please.



BossaNova:MTL's Happy Hour!
5-7 PM EDT

Join us for a social happy hour which will be hosted on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please, where you can chat about your favourite parts of the summit with fellow attendees.

Chelsea Blasko from Iron Galaxy Studios, Cara Ely from King & Chandana 'Eka' Ekanayake from Outerloop Games



Friday, May 14, 2021


Level Up as a Leader: Closing Discussion
2-3:30 PM EDT

In this closing discussion, our three panelists will be joined by Renee Gittins, Executive Director of IGDA, to talk about the different themes covered throughout the week.

Our panelists will discuss the key issues affecting game developers and what leaders can do to address them. They will touch on how to build an inclusive studio culture, best practices and challenges for leaders and managers, how to engage employees and cultivate a culture of creativity, and what steps to take to level up as a leader.

This event includes a 30-minute informal discussion with your peers on Wonder.me, an online event tool that makes it easy to hop in and out of conversations as you please.

Renee Gittins from IGDA, with Tim Morten from Frost Giant Studios, Jesse Houston from Phoenix Labs & Leah Hoyer from Wizards of the Coast

Tickets give you access to all the events during
The Game Leadership Summit, May 10-14, 2021.


General Admission Tickets are $50.


Current GamePlay Space member?
Please contact the GPS Team directly
for your member's discount code.

Stay In Touch

To keep up with the latest updates on BossaNova:MTL 2021, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and follow the #bossanovamtl2021 hashtag on every social platform.

BossaNova:MTL is made possible thanks to the generous support of our amazing partners:


If you're interested in getting involved as a sponsor in this years BossaNova:MTL,
please contact GamePlay Space at
contact@gameplayspace.com!