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This week at GamesBeat Summit 2023, I had a chance to play fanboy. Backstage at the event, I asked Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, to sign an autograph on a couple of copies of the original comic books that debuted 20 years ago in 2003. Rather than just sign them, Kirkman scribbled for a long time. When I later looked at the autograph, he signed his name and drew a picture of a zombie.

That made me smile and I considered it an honor to have Kirkman, chief creative officer and cofounder of Skybound Entertainment, as a speaker at our event. He did an hour-long fireside chat with Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, vice president of community development at Fortis Games and a former longtime leader at Twitch. For our tiny little GamesBeat event in its 15th year, this was a big moment.

Before the talk, I introduced Jon Goldman, Formaggio Grande at Skybound and the founder of virtual reality VC fund Tower 26. And Goldman, who is the connective tissue between games and entertainment, introduced the session, which was sponsored by Facebook Gaming. Goldman and I began conspiring years ago to get Kirkman to speak at one of our conferences and talk about how games and movies have become a single ecosystem.

Their talk was a high point for our subtheme at the event about games and Hollywood. Hollywood and games went through so many failed marriages when games were viewed as nerdy and Hollywood directors didn’t play games. Now we have successes like The Last of Us TV show on HBO. The Super Mario Bros. movie has crossed $1 billion in revenue, as has Hogwarts Legacy, Warner’s latest hit game.