Finals Day Conferences 2016: Introducing the speakers

Organised by Grads In Games & Aardvark Swift, these free conference events welcome students and academics from games-related courses alongside industry colleagues. For the competition finalists, this will be the day of their final interview, determining who the 2016 Search for a Star & Rising Star winners. For everyone else, there will be a full day of activities taking place including talks from various games industry speakers. Conference speakers confirmed for this year’s events below :

Art: Thursday 31st March, Staffordshire University

Jonny Severn, Creative Director/Founder at Pixel Blast Ltd AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWDAAAAJDZiMTVhOGQ3LWRkNzQtNGZiOS1hMThhLTc0MTQ0NGM4MWVjYw

Jonny has a wealth of experience within the Games Industry, having worked on massive games titles like DJHero 2, Halo 5, The Getaway and Guitar Hero Live. Since working on these, he has founded his own studio Pixel Blast alongside his colleague David Costello, where he currently works as the Creative & Design Director. Jonny will be speaking about getting into the industry, and founding his own studio.

Mike Gamble, EU Territory Manager at Epic Games download (3)

With over 30 years’ experience in the industry working with world leaders in technology and games, Mike has vast knowledge of all things games, art and technology. Having worked at Epic Games for the last 5 years, Mike can provide an invaluable insight into the Epic World our competition entrants have been working from. He will be delivering a technical talk about the stages of Game Art creation, from creating new content and working to a brief, to creating 3D assets and models.

Lee Montgomery, Senior Technical Support Specialist at Autodesk AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQ5AAAAJDQxMTkzMWI4LTEyY2EtNDZmZi04ZGVhLTJhMzYxZjcyMzcxMg

Lee has gained a wealth of experience in the games industry over the years, having worked as a Senior Animator for various game studios, where he’s worked on successful titles like the Grand Theft Auto series. For the last 8 years, Lee has worked at Autodesk, making him the expert in all things Maya and 3ds Max, and last year he was a guest lecturer for our Get In The Game Universities tour. In his talk, he will be speaking to us about his journey in the games industry.


Mike has worked at several successful games studios, and has an extensive number of games titles to his name. As a VFX Artist, he has worked on several LEGO series’ like Harry Potter, Batman and Star Wars. Now working at Cloud Imperium as the Global VFX Lead, Mike is currently working on their newest title Star Citizen. He will be talking about ‘The VFX of Star Citizen’, where he will be talking about their new Star Citizen project, followed by a spaceship VFX breakdown.

Olly Nicolson, Senior Technical Art Field Engineer at Unity download (4)

Olly has had a wealth of experience in the Games Industry, having had several artist and managerial positions at various studios. Now working as a field engineer at Unity, Olly deals with troubleshooting issues for users and development teams using Unity and creates artwork for demos and internal production. Olly advanced expertise in 3D modelling, texturing, rigging and animation combined with his artistic ability makes him a fantastic addition to our line up!

Code – Monday 4th April, Microsoft Campus in Reading

David Braben, Founder and CEO of Frontier Developments download (5)

With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, David is a game developer, designer and the CEO of Frontier Developments. He is also the co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which launched a low-cost computer for education. Described as “one of the most influential computer game programmers of all time,” David has worked on some top games titles, like Elite, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and Dog’s Life. David will be kicking off the day talking about his experience in the industry.

Tim Page, Technical Director at Exient

Tim has worked as programmer for over 20 years at different games studios before becoming the Lead Programmer and Technical Director at Exient. With Exient, Tim has worked on titles like Angry Bird Transformer and Angry Birds Go! He will be delivering a talk on ‘Gold Jet Skis: Live Ops and Online Services for Mobile Games.’

Richard Bangs, Lead Programmer and Co-Founder at Boss Alien Ltd 2b80722

As the Lead Programmer and Co-Founder at Boss Alien, Richard has worked on the notable game titles CSR Racing and CSR Classics. On the day, Richard will be taking part on the judging panel to help decide who will be crowned the 2016 Search for a Star & Rising Star winners. For this talk, he will be speaking about ‘Big Code, Big Problems.’

James Thomas, Lead Engineer at Rare Ltd GUS0KcaD_400x400

James has been working in the games industry since he began at Rare 13 years ago. During his time at Rare, he has gained expertise with systems, gameplay and network engineering, whilst helping to produce top-selling games like Viva Piñata and Kinect Sports. Currently, they are working on their upcoming adventure game Sea of Thieves. On the day, James will be using his knowledge to deliver a talk on ‘The Life of a Game.’

Tom Sampson, Programmer at Sumo Digital download (6)

Tom began working as a Junior Developer at Sumo Digital in 2011, before also becoming a Programmer for the company a year later. Sumo Digital are the award-winning studio behind Forza Horizon 2, LittleBigPlanet 3 and Disney Infinity 3. As a Programmer, Tom overlooks the maintenance and development of a cross platform C++ game engine and supporting tools. In his talk, Tom will speak about his Journey from Intern, to Graduate, to Programmer.

Joshua Mallett, Former Lionhead Intern/Bournemouth Student AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQOAAAAJDQwY2Q3NmQ2LTVlNzgtNGE0MC1iZDI4LTNmOGY5NWQzMDgzOQ

Currently a Games Technology student at Bournemouth University, Joshua completed a Game Design Internship at Lionhead Studios last year. During his internship, he developed an understanding of Level Design fundamentals and Read Time Tactical. He also designed single page documents for Character and Creatures. Now looking to graduate this summer, Joshua has had his first taster of what it’s like working in a games studio. He will be delivering a talk on ‘From Intern, to Graduate to the Real World: Be Your Future Internship.’

If you work in the games industry & want to get involved, email me at for details. There’s still a few spaces left at the conference days if you’re a student or academic & wish to attend :

Art Finals Conference

Code Finals Conference