VIP Guests (2018)

We were proud to welcome the following VIPs to the Midwest Gaming Classic in 2018! Click on an industry below to filter by industry, and click on the VIPs themselves to learn more about who you might meet at the show!

Follow our Facebook page for guest announcements for 2019! We are expecting over 100 industry VIPs again this year, and will update this page to our 2019 list after we have announced our first 20 guests!

 

Philo Barnhart

Philo Barnhart

Don Bluth Studios, Disney, Silver Phoenix Entertainment*

Animator, Artist*

Philo was an animator for games Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, but is perhaps best known for other projects he helped animate – The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under, The Secret of NIMH, Happily Ever After, An American Tail, and special effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture!

Chris Bidwell

Chris Bidwell

Independent

Nintendo World Championship 2015 Finalist

Chris has been an avid game collector since the 1990’s amassing nearly 6000 titles. In 2015, he fulfilled his boyhood dream and reached the finals of the Nintendo World Championships in Los Angeles via the qualifying event in Chicago. He is now working to archive the mostly forgotten video game championships of the 80s and 90s and share the stories of their participants.

Jeff Byrnes

Jeff Byrnes

Independent

Nintendo World Championship 2017 Finalist

Jeff Byrnes has been a competitive online Mario Kart player since 2006. It was this experience that allowed him to take first place in the Mario Kart 7 time trial challenge and make the 2017 Nintendo World Championships via the Chicago qualifier. Jeff went on to survive several rounds of the championships in New York, eventually being eliminated in the Mario Party round directly before the finals. Overall he placed fourth out of 24 qualifiers and invitees.

Waison Cheng

Waison Cheng

Neopong Software, inXile Entertainment, Incredible Technologies, Stern Pinball*

Software Engineer

Waison is not a game designer for Stern Pinball, having worked on games like Aerosmith, Star Trek, KISS, Game of Thrones and Avengers to name a few. Before that, he worked on the Golden Tee series for Incredible Technologies, and before that on programming games for the Nintendo DS!

Brian Colin

Brian Colin

Game Designer

Brian Colin, the creator of the arcade game Rampage, will be at the Midwest Gaming Classic less than one week before the movie version of Rampage comes out! Brian is also the man behind arcade games Xenophobe, Arch Rivals and Pigskin 621, and the Sega Genesis game General Chaos! Brian is coming thanks to Galloping Ghost Arcade of Brookfield, Illinois, which has a selection of hundreds of arcade games to play every day of the year!

David Crane

David Crane

Atari Inc, Activision, Absolute Entertainment, Skyworks Interactive

Game Designer and Programmer

David’s work on the Atari 2600 is legendary, with him developing games like Decathlon, Ghostbusters and Pitfall! He also developed A Boy And His Blob for the NES, among other awesome games!

Terry Diebold

Terry Diebold

Independent

Preservationist

After discovering that he had unknowingly purchased the only known Nintendo Playstation prototype in a lot from a company that had closed, Terry has made the choice to share it with the world! Come meet Terry and hear about his travels since finding the console, and get a chance to check out and maybe even try the console too!

Kevin Fair

Kevin Fair

I Play Games*

Founder, Video Game Promoter, Tournament Organizer

Kevin was an experienced video game promoter and tournament organizer when he founded I Play Games in 2009. Today, I Play Games hosts charitable events, coordinates cross country trips, supports gaming media, and hosts awesome gaming tournaments for companies and groups!

Kyle Gilbert

Kyle Gilbert

Independent

Podcaster

Kyle Gilbert is part of the popular VGBS podcast with friend and author Jeffrey Wittenhagen. The pair discuss lots of great topics on their show from historical data, collector info, and much more!

Johnny Gioeli

Johnny Gioeli

Sega*, Crush 40*

Video Game Music and Singer

Johnny sings on nine Sonic the Hedgehog games as part of the band Crush 40 starting with Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast.

Tim Hanson

Tim Hanson

Independent

Nintendo World Championship 2015 Finalist

Tim is an avid video game enthusiast and has been since he was 2 years old. He was a finalist in the 2015 Nintendo World Championships and currently holds four world records on the NES console. Tim enjoys streaming retro and modern games regularly on Twitch and playing competitively and for charity.

Ben Heck

Ben Heck

The Ben Heck Show*, Spooky Pinball*

Video Game Hacker, Pinball Designer, Pinball Software

Ben is a master hacker, engineer and tech hobbyist who has done things that touch nearly every aspect of the show… including naming it in 2002! Ben has hacked consoles to create portable versions of them, created pinball machines that were then manufactured by Spooky Pinball, talked with Dan and Terry Diebold to help fix the Nintendo Playstation Prototype and runs a popular online show, the Ben Heck Show, while he’s at it all!

Steve Hendershot

Steve Hendershot

Independent

Writer

Author Steve Henderson wrote the new Undisputed Street Fighter book that takes you behind the scenes of the series’ rise. Steve traveled to Japan to meet with the creators of series flagship Street Fighter II, and tells the stories behind the evolution of the games and characters, as well as the stories of the players whose dedication turned Street Fighter into a global, tournament sport.

Zachary Hendrix

Zachary Hendrix

Independent

Wii Games Summer 2010 National Championships Winner, Teen Category

Zach has been a gamer and Nintendo enthusiast his entire. Since Mario Kart Wii, he has been achieving World Records and top 100 rankings in a wide variety of games. With his best friend since pre-school he won the teen category of the Wii Games Summer 2010 National Championships in Redondo Beach CA. He is currently a design engineer, and still an active member of the competitive gaming and Nintendo communities. Zach is an aspiring game designer and voice actor, who has contributed his voice -most notably- on projects with Zelda Universe.

Leonard Herman

Leonard Herman

Leonard is regarded as one of the earliest video game historians. The first edition of his book, Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Video Games, was published in 1994 and is considered to be the first comprehensive book about the history of video games. Since then, he has written articles for dozens of books and magazines including his book ABC To the VCS (A Directory of Software for the Atari 2600), a compendium of game summaries.

Dyfed Hitchings

Dyfed Hitchings

Game On Exhibition*

Curator

Dyfed curates and organizes the “Game On” Exhibition. This exhibition looks at the history and culture of video gaming around the world in a museum based exhibition. Running for 16 years, it has traveled to 24
countries, and been to 36 venues across the world.

Garry Kitchen

Garry Kitchen

Wickstead Design Associates, Activision, Absolute Entertainment, Viacom Media Networks, SGK Service Inc*

Game Designer, Game Programmer, President

Garry developed or co-developed tons of great games for early video game systems including Keystone Kapers, Pressure Cooker, Donkey Kong and Space Jockey for the 2600 and Stealth ATF, Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants, Simpsons: Bart Vs. The World and Battletank for the NES, as well as a bunch more!

Tim Kitzrow

Tim Kitzrow

EA Sports, Acclaim, Bally, Midway, Digital Dreams Entertainment

Voice Actor

With NBA Jam, which grossed over $2 BILLION to date, Kitzrow introduced the iconic phrase BOOMSHAKALAKA into the basketball lexicon and with it secured pop culture immortality. A Chicago based Voice Artist and NBA pop culture personality, Kitzrow is known to fans for his sensational sports commentary, earning industry awards for all four major sports leagues. Kitzrow has enjoyed a run as the signature voice of classic games like NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, Wayne Gretzky Hockey, MLB Slugfest, Big Hurt Baseball, and NCAA College Slam. He is the only talent in gaming to voice all four major sports leagues, the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, as well as the NCAA. He is currently working on a re-launch of the beloved Mutant Football League series, as well as a number of book and creative projects.

Tanio Klyce

Tanio Klyce

Backbone Entertainment, Valve Corporation, Stern Pinball*

Senior Software Engineer

Tanio is the Senior Software Engineer at Stern Pinball, which means that he writes the code for some of your favorite Stern games like The Walking Dead and Star Trek! Before working at Stern, he was a Developer at both Valve and Backbone Entertainment working in the video game field.

Tim Lapetino

Tim Lapetino

Independent

Video Game Historian, Writer

Tim Lapetino created the beautiful book Art of Atari to celebrate the amazing pictures that were created to bridge the gap between the imagination and reality of early Atari games. Tim has also written for Geek Monthly, RETRO Magazine, and other great publications, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Museum of Video Game Art.

Jeff Lee

Jeff Lee

Gottlieb

Arcade Video Concept and Design

@!#?@! Perhaps best known as the creator of Q*Bert, Jeff Lee is an artist who created great work for many of Gottlieb’s video arcade games, as well as games on the Macintosh and Genesis. Jeff will be hanging out in the Galloping Ghost Arcade room (3 on the map) throughout the weekend!

Steven Lucas

Steven Lucas

Independent

1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge National Champion

The 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge National Champion, coming out of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where players competed for a Geo Storm Gsi using a timed competition cartridge where the games were Super Mario 3, Pinbot and Dr. Mario. Nowadays he can be seen every so often at the Galloping Ghost Arcade where he is chasing scores and setting new records. Lucas graduated with a Computer Science degree from Illinois College in Jacksonville with an Associates from SIUC and now resides in Springfield, IL.

Bob Mackey

Bob Mackey

IGN, USGamer, Retronauts*

Writer, Podcaster

Retronauts is perhaps the most well known retro gaming podcast, and Bob Mackey is one of the people behind it! Having worked in gaming journalism for sites like IGN and USGamer, Mackey brings his vast knowledge of gaming history to every project he participates in.

Michael Mendheim

Michael Mendheim

SunSoft, Electronic Arts, 3DO, Vogster Entertainment, Digital Dreams Entertainment*

Game Creator, Producer

Michael is an Executive Producer and Creative Director, his videogame projects include the #1 hit, Mutant League Football & Hockey (which spawned a syndicated animated series, toy line and comics), Fester’s Quest, Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes, Battletanx, Def Jam: Icon, Robocalypse, CrimeCraft and the award winning graphic novel, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He is also the co-founder of Digital Dreams Entertainment LLC, his latest project is Mutant Football League for PS4, Xbox One and PC, awarded sports game of the year by Shacknews and garnering numerous industry awards.

Terry Minnich

Terry Minnich

EGM, Pixel Blast Arcade*

Writer, Arcade Operator

As former Tricks of the Trade editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, the name “Trickman” was well known for video game obsessed kids of the 1990s. Today, he is still a force in the industry as one of the co-owners of the Pixel Blast Arcade in Lisle, Illinois!

Rick Naegele

Rick Naegele

Rick is a software engineer who is now a programmer for Stern Pinball, and his first title is the new Iron Maiden machine! Before Stern, Rick worked for WMS Gaming on slot machines, Jardvark Studios for iOS, Chewy Software on Direct 3D games and as a software engineer for EA working on the Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2 and PS3!

Jeremy Parish

Jeremy Parish

IGN, 1UP, USGamer, Retronauts*

Writer, Podcaster

Bob Mackey and Jeremy Parish of Retronauts will be at the Midwest Gaming Classic April 14 and 15 in Milwaukee, WI! Retronauts was started over ten years ago as a podcast featuring games of the past, and continues today weekly covering a diverse range of retro gaming topics!

John Parrish

John Parrish

Midway

Actor

John is the Northern Kung Fu expert who portrayed Jax in Mortal Kombat II, 3, 4, Trilogy, Advance, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat! John now runs two companies in the Chicago area including an IT consulting company and a fitness company. John will be hanging out in the Galloping Ghost Arcade room (3 on the map) throughout the weekend!

Daniel Pesina

Daniel Pesina

Midway

Actor

Daniel played Sub Zero, Scorpion Reptile, Noob Saibot, Smoke and Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat I and II. He also was one of the Foot Soldiers in Teenage Mutant Ninjas II! Daniel will be hanging out in the Galloping Ghost Arcade room (3 on the map) throughout the weekend!

Jon St. John

Jon St. John

JonStJohn.Audio*

Voice Actor

It’s time to kick butt and chew bubble gum… and we’re all out of gum! Perhaps best known for his role as Duke Nukem, Jon has voice acted in many games such as Sonic Adventures, Guild Wars 2, Star Trek: Online, World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Half-Life: Opposing Force, Rad Rodgers, This is the Police, and D&D Neverwinter, just to name a few.

Michael Thomasson

Michael Thomasson

Michael is one of the is one of the most widely respected video game historians in the field today. He currently teaches college level video game history, design, and graphics courses. He authored Downright Bizarre Games, and has contributed to nearly a dozen textbooks as well as writing historical columns have been distributed in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Michael has also worked on nearly a hundred game titles on Atari, Coleco, Sega and other console platforms with his Company Good Deal Games.

Ken Williams

Ken Williams

EGM

Writer

Ken Williams, the original writer of Sushi-X for EGM magazine, was known for his love of fighting games and the infamous Sheng Long trick in the April (fools) 1992 issue of EGM that ended up being reprinted without verification worldwide and influenced the creation of both Akuma and Gouken… an incredible legacy for a guy who loved fighting games to get! Meet him at the show and challenge him to a round of SF2 while you’re at it!

Jeffrey Wittenhagen

Jeffrey Wittenhagen

Independent

Writer, Podcaster

Jeffrey is the writer of tons of awesome books like the Complete NES: Ultimate NES Collector’s Book and many others! He is also one of the hosts of the popular VGBS podcast!