Think Services Game Group announced today that Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin and recently-named head of development for the Walt Disney Company's kids and family-targeted virtual worlds, has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for the Austin Game Developers Conference (Austin GDC) 2008 taking place September 15-17 at the Austin Convention Center.
Merrifield's keynote entitled, "At Their Service: Making a Difference by Putting Players First," will explore some of the key elements that go into developing and maintaining a uniquely engaging and profitable virtual world.
Club Penguin, part of Disney Online, is a virtual playground designed for children between the ages of six and 14. Lane helped develop and launch the site in 2005 and since its inception, has led the management, operations and business strategy. The company's commitment to creating a safe and ad-free online environment helped propel Club Penguin to international acclaim and a partnership with the Walt Disney Company, which acquired Club Penguin in August 2007.
In his keynote, Lane will explore the idea that true success is derived from a mindset of focusing on the creation of a customer service-based culture. He argues if you do that correctly, monetization will take care of itself.
"In this era of rapidly growing social games and virtual worlds, new players and investors are constantly throwing their hats in the arena -- hoping to create the next big connected game. The reality is that many of these online games won't reach a critical mass," said Austin GDC conference director Izora De Lillard. "Lane Merrifield's talk will inspire developers to consider how to create a truly compelling experience for the gamer; and perhaps help them create the next Club Penguin."
As a celebration of what's new and next within online game development, Austin GDC will also play host to the Worlds in Motion Summit featuring sessions on how business can enter and capitalize on virtual worlds with featured speakers including: Raph Koster of Areae Inc. Metaplace, Shervin Pishervar of Social Gaming Network, Chris Waldron of Fusion Fall Cartoon Network, and Michael Rowe of 3D Internet & v-Business & Business Management IBM.
Early registration discounts are available until July 31st. For more information on Lane Merrifield's keynote and all other sessions taking place at Austin GDC, as well as for online registration, please visit the official website