Speaker / Director / Documentarian
Donte Woods-Spikes is a speaker, videographer, and mentor to teens through out the city of Columbus. He is a part time student at Columbus State seeking his degree in social work. He plans to take his educational backround and fuse it with his personal experiences to help improve schools and communities all together. He is now working on starting his own documentary titled A Talk With Our Sons, which revolves around the issues that young males are faced with at school, home, and every day life.
Executive Director – Global Game Jam
Seven Siegel is the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam. She has experience in all sectors, including academia, nonprofits, for-profit, and government. Throughout her time traversing sectors, Seven always came back to games and social impact, with a focus on social entrepreneurship. The end result, was finding a place within the nonprofit game space. Steven holds an MBA in Nonprofit Management and a Masters in Public Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and a B.S. in Game Design from Champlain College.
Jesse Cox is an award-winning entertainer, voice actor, influencer, gamer, and creator of a brand new YouTube Red esports comedy series. Having been in the world of online media and gaming for nearly a decade, his knowledge of the space and willingness to be open about it, has made him a speaker of note at many gaming and industry events.
Justin McElroy is the co-creator and co-host of a bevy of podcasts, including My Brother, My Brother and Me (recently adapted into a TV show by NBC’s Seeso service), The Adventure Zone, Sawbones, Quality Control, Till Death Do Us Blart and The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2. He’s also a co-founder of Vox Media’s gaming site, Polygon. He’s currently trying to get into the movie Trolls 2.
Travis McElroy is a professional podcaster based in Cincinnati, OH. He can be heard on MBMBaM, The Adventure Zone, Shmanners, The Kind Rewind, Trends Like These, Til Death Do Us Blart, The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2, Interrobang, Bunker Buddies and Can I Pet Your Dog. Travis has also worked in professional theatre as both a Technical Director and Actor with The Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. Currently, he is working on getting in Trolls 2.
Wade Barnes is a gaming YouTuber with over a million subscribers. He loves to entertain as well as a contribute to countless charity events. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio and a big Cincinnati sports fan, Wade likes to enjoy a little bit of everything in life. His YouTube channel consists of gameplays of all kinds, including horror, survival, indie, and more. Wade ‘s known for his jokes, charisma, voice impressions, and strange facial expressions.
Wade loves his fan-base and acknowledges that they and his fiance Molly are the best things that ever happened to him. As long as people enjoy his content Wade is more than happy to work harder and harder to bring high quality and enjoyable content to his viewers.
DB Cooper is a voice actor/dialogue consultant/voice caster/director. She has more slashes between stuff than Jack the Ripper. With a pedigree in musical and dramatic theater, DB has been acting and directing for more than 29 years. Game work includes voice characterizations for Bioshock 2, Syndicate, Firefall, and DC Universe Online; casting and directing for Big Fish and Zynga casual games; and vocal archetype consulting. DB is a staff announcer for CBS Radio, and a voice coach with students worldwide.
Producer – World of Warcraft
Opinion Editor – Polygon
Design Program Manager – Playstation
Starting out practicing animation, Patrick soon discovered his love and passion for production, process, and project management! Over the years he has worked with a wide variety of team types, enabling them to bring their dream experiences to life for players of all types to enjoy. At PlayStation, Patrick collaborates with the console design team working with designers to create the best place to play. Patrick also has extensive experience in the independent gaming scene with Fractal Fox. A small studio that focuses on fostering a learning environment for creatives while building games that bring people together.
Ian has had a love of video games since his youth, and first dreamed of a career in animation after playing the opening minutes of Diablo. He landed his first job in 2007 at an independent studio, where he cut his teeth on the movie tie-in game, Alvin and the Chipmunks. In 2009 Ian was given an opportunity to work for the developer of one of his favorite games, System Shock 2. Ian joined Irrational Games that year, and worked to help bring Bioshock Infinite to life. Ian then joined Gearbox Software, where he has worked on Battleborn and has played around in the Borderlands universe. He has been working as a technical animator for 10 years now with the support of his wife and children.
Executive Organizer – Smithsonian American Art Museum Arcade
Christopher Totten is game designer and an executive organizer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum Indie Arcade. a game designer in Washington DC. He is a former chair and active member of the Washington, DC chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), working with local indies to create a strong development community. He is the founder of Pie For Breakfast Studios, a Washington, DC area indie game company and has done work as an artist, animator, level designer, and project manager. Chris has written articles featured on Gamasutra, Game Career Guide, and other publications and is a frequent speaker at game industry conferences such as GDC, GDC China, East Coast Game Conference, Games For Change, Foundations of Digital Games, and the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA.) He holds a Masters Degree in Architecture with a concentration in digital media from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and is the author of An Architectural Approach to Level Design, published with CRC Press/AK Peters in 2014 and Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity, released by Wiley Publishing in the summer of 2012. He is also the editor of the collected volume, Level Design: Processes and Experiences.
Game Developer & Assistant Professor – University of Notre Dame
Jeff Spoonhower is a 15-year veteran of the video game industry. Jeff has worked as a cinematic director, senior animator, senior video editor, and sound designer for Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, 2K Games, and THQ/Deep Silver on projects like Borderlands 2, Bioshock 2, Saints Row 1-4, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Syphon Filter, NFL Street, and many more. Over the past three years, Jeff has been developing an award-winning independent game titled Anew: The Distant Light, which is planned for release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2018. In addition to his career in video game development, Jeff is an assistant professor of film and digital media production at the University of Notre Dame.
Team Lead – Muse Games
Howard Tsao is the Team Lead of Muse Games, an independent game studio located in New York City that exclusively uses Unity3D to develop across desktop and mobile platforms. Their projects include Guns of Icarus, a bad publisher and hurricane survivor, a multiple award winner, and a cross-platform top-seller on Steam. Muse is currently working on an PvE expansion to Guns of Icarus as well as playing around with a kungfu possessed hamster beating up vermin to rid a city high on pollen of crime. Howard also helps lead an indie dev and Unity3D user group in NYC.
Freelance Games Journalist
Justin Michael is relatively new to the scene of of games journalism but is by no means a stranger to video games. From playing Tetris before he could read to spending his allowance at his local laundromat arcade playing Galaga and Joust, Justin has had a life-long fascination with what he considers to be the ultimate form of entertainment media.
Before his life of guide-writing and game reviews he spent five and a half years serving in the United States Army as a Satellite Network Technician — which took him all over the world to places like South Korea, Germany, and Afghanistan.
Lead Artist – Multivarious
Katie (@elentori) is the Senior Concept artist at Multivarious Games and project lead for their upcoming game No mercy. In her free time she streams on Twitch, bringing creatives together and helping the next generation of artists grow.
She works out of Columbus and lives with her cat Nyx, the harbinger of doom and destruction. Currently has more caffeine than blood in her system.
Brad is an Ohio-based YouTuber who runs a gaming-focused channel called SwankyBox. By trade he is an animator, videographer, writer, and web designer, but nerdy online video is what he’s most passionate about. Besides his gaming YouTube endeavors, Brad also has a diverse background in marketing, user experience, and crowdfunding.
Chief Operations Officer / Community Outreach Director – The AbleGamers Charity
Steve Spohn is the Chief Operations Officer and Community Outreach Director for AbleGamers charity, award-winning author, and advocate for people with disabilities. Featured on CNN, NBC and other mainstream news outlets as an assistive technology and game accessibility expert, Steven brings all his knowledge and much more to championing for people with disabilities in the video game space as a means of defeating social isolation. Steve has also traveled the country speaking at various prestigious events. When not writing or doing charity work, you can find him gaming, reading the latest sci-fi novels or cracking jokes on social media. He currently resides outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his ragdoll cat and adorable sheltie puppy.
Program Director – The AbleGamers Charity
Craig Kaufman is the Program Director for the AbleGamers Charity, traveling speaker, and game accessibility advocate. Craig has traveled the globe spreading awareness for game accessibility and imploring developers to enhance their games with simple, cost-effective solutions that would allow millions of people disabilities to enjoy their games. He has worked in charity for nearly a decade, advancing critical missions for people with disabilities, while maintaining an impeccable reputation. His undying passion for the video games industry is unparalleled, except by his core belief that everyone is equal. He currently resides just outside Columbus, Ohio with his wife, lovable puppies and more cats than he would like.
Marcus Cenci is a 15 year vet in the games industry where he’s worked on multiple projects as an Art Director and Lead Artist including the Saints Row and Madden NFL franchises. He’s currently working at Deep Silver Volition focused on Art Outsourcing for their latest title Agents of Mayhem where he works offsite from Columbus, OH. You can learn a bit more about him at MarcusCenci.com.
Sarah Sexton is a Technical Evangelist, a dedicated advocate for technology, committed to highlighting strengths and seeing more women and minorities get involved in game development. Her responsibilities at Microsoft include public speaking, writing code, blogging and tweeting about cool services, and interacting with communities in the Midwest. She helps developers find success on Windows platforms through meetups, conferences, university workshops, and game jams. She is also a co-founder of the Voxelles: Chicago’s Women in Game Development. She is most passionate about diversity, inclusion, and communicating clearly.
Ross is an attorney, writer, and gamer. He received his J.D. and LL.M. in intellectual property from the John Marshall Law School. Ross is the founding partner of Loading Law, a Chicago-based video game law firm, and the organizer of the annual Chicago Video Game Law Summit. His first book on video game law will be published in early 2017. Ross also serves as Board President of the VGA Gallery, Board Member of IGDA-Chicago, and Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Creative Arts Committee.
Executive Director – Video Game Art Gallery
Jonathan Kinkley (VGA Gallery Executive Director and Co-Founder) is a writer and museum professional with more than 15 years of experience working in galleries and museums across the world. Kinkley holds a BFA in art history from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MA in art history from University of Illinois at Chicago with a thesis focus on the art and architecture of virtual worlds. Kinkley has served as organizer and curator for dozens of exhibitions including Game Art VS Art Game, Dateline: Bronzeville and the upcoming Gun Ballet: the Aestheticization of Violence and Chicago New Media: 1973-1992. Currently, he works full time in development at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Susan Magnani is the President and Founder of Emblazon Games. Emblazon Games is a team of about 10 college students who are in the process of designing the MMO RPG Supermortiant, which will be the first RPG to integrate bio-feeback from a heart-rate monitor, with gameplay in real-time. Magnani is also currently studying Computer Science at Bowling Green State University. She has worked in web development and IT Support, in addition to her video game development experience
Carlee Campbell has been gaming since she was 4 with her Grandma’s old Super Nintendo. She loves playing all sorts of games but has been very active with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm in recent years. Power to equality in gaming!
Kevin Kralian is a Senior Developer with a 20+ year career working with companies such as Acclaim, Electronic Arts, ESPN, Microsoft, Sega, Sony, and Zynga. He got his start by programming an Apple II emulator for fun in 1993, which caused him to be recruited into the game development industry and launched his career. His experience spans multiple generations of consoles – from the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis up through XBOX 360 / PS3, and most recently web & mobile platforms. Kevin has worked on over 30 published titles, including highlights such as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Madden Football, and CityVille. He also worked on ESPN’s Emmy award winning augmented reality broadcast technology, cofounded a web start-up, and coauthored multiple patents. He is currently working with Zynga on Social Slot Machines from home in Columbus, Ohio.
Jeremy Patterson is Lead of the User Experience Technology Research and Development team at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is co-founder and Chief Creative Technology Officer at LittleSeed. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Jeremy has been instrumental in spearheading advanced interactive technology projects at the organization culminating in 7 virtual and mixed-reality, 10 digital and hardware cross-over projects and 4 US patents.
Voxel Bay (http://voxelbay.com) is the most notable of these endeavors, having been the subject of a presentation and publication at ACM SIGGRAPH 2016, was awarded the highest honor at the Children’s Miracle Network awards in 2017 and had the distinction of being finalist at SXSW Interactive for 2017.
Henry Elmo Bawden has been a professional in the video game industry since 2006, working on titles such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, “Tale of Despereaux”, and “Knock ‘Em Downs: World’s Fair”. He is currently in charge of the Video Game Art and Animation program at Columbus State Community College and teaches game design, storytelling, drawing, 3D content creation, and game production courses. He also runs his own game development company, Bawden Studio.
Ilan Nass is the founder of Taktical Digital in NYC, an award winning digital marketing agency specializing in paid social advertising, managing millions of dollars per month in media. Taktical has helped grow world-class startups such as WeWork, Elite Daily, Splash, Artsy and Fueled;
Ilan is widely regarded as a leading expert in SEO, SEM, Social Media and Conversion optimization. He has consulted for major brands and startups alike for years such as Standard & Poors, Barney’s, and Chase.
Ilan has been featured in Forbes, Inc.com, TheNextWeb and HuffingtonPost and has spoken at several digital marketing conferences from New York to Las Vegas
Sean Beeson is a composer, producer, owner of Sean Beeson Studio LLC, and Senior Composer at Neoglyphic Entertainment. He has scored hundreds of games, films, and other multimedia projects, and his music has received over 75,000,000 views on YouTube.
Ashley ‘SonikBuster’ Watts is an arranger and composer. She has worked on several VGM projects such as Chronicles of Time, NIBEL: Ori and the Blind Forest Remixed, and SUCCESSOR: Final Fantasy VIII Remixed. She also composed the original soundtrack for the upcoming game ‘Miracle Mia’. When she’s not working on music you can find her streaming video games on her twitch channel, cooking some tasty Thai food, playing with her family, or singing in random places.
Sonik is very passionate about supporting indie game developers, and has lead a variety of panels dedicated to addressing issues in the geek and game dev communities as well as some that are just for fun. <3
Ryan Davis is a solo indie dev based in Indiana. As both an artist and a programmer, Ryan specializes in the magic space between art and code. He has a long history making games for fun and for sale. Check out his latest finished work at www.adventurelamp.com. Ryan is currently making games for the modern arcade, using small resolutions on high end hardware to create a new kind of arcade experience.
Jarryd Huntley, a Lead Coding Bootcamp Instructor at We Can Code IT, plays important roles in Cleveland’s game development scene as both an academic by teaching game development at Lorain County Community College and as an independent game developer, currently working on Art Club Challenge. With talks at conferences (including IndieCade and GDC) and universities, he brings a unique perspective by drawing on his experiences from software engineering and as a professional musician. In addition he is co-authoring his first book, Game Programming for Artists, set to release in 2017.
Hanna Brady is a freelance game writer. She works on mobile and indie games. Her first book, co-authored with Jarryd Huntley, is the forthcoming Game Programming for Artists and she has an essay in the academic anthology Queer Game Studies. In her spare time, she writes fiction, travels, and plays board games with her awesome family. You can find her at www.hannabrady.com or on twitter.
Suzi Shapiro is a Principal User Experience Consultant with GravityDrive. She is well educated in the fine points of the user experience with a PhD in Human Factors Psychology and several other Psychology degrees and well as being a Certified Usability Analyst, Certified User Experience Analyst, and a Certified Gerontologist
With over 25 years of experience with a user focused approach to designing and developing innovative products, Michael was instrumental in evangelizing the UX approach in the companies where he worked. He founded GravityDrive in 2008 to focus on providing user experience consulting services for a variety of products and services.
Jason Conaway is a Senior Software Engineer at Hypnos Entertainment and is working with Riot Games to help create their updated League Client. He previously held engineering positions at videogame publishers Electronic Arts, DreamWorks Interactive, and Sierra Studios. Since 1996, Jason has programmed core systems of some of the most popular video games in the world, including League of Legends, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Bulletstorm, Golden Eye: Rogue Agent, Return to Krondor, and several titles in the Medal of Honor series. Jason also teaches game development at Game-U, in Powell, OH.
Tom Caprel is a marketer, gamer, tech enthusiast, and trained opera singer. In 2013, Tom and his co-founder started a big-data website to analyze virtual markets with the goal helping players get the most out of their time in-game. In 2015, Tom started a dedicated marketing company, Hyperion Marketing, to help small game/software developers show their success to the world. Tom is on the board of IGDA Chicago, and has been the Communications Director of the Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery since February 2016. Tom has been in marketing for 8+ years, and regularly works with Chicago startup incubators.
As an educator and computational physicist, Prof. Chris Orban is keenly aware of the potential for video games and video game engines to help illustrate scientific ideas. Chris leads the STEMcoding project (u.osu.edu/stemcoding), which aims to reinvigorate high school STEM courses like physics and chemistry with interactive video-game-like coding activities. He also co-leads the BuckeyeVR project (buckeyevr.osu.edu), which recently completed a 600+ student smartphone-based VR study, currently the largest ever VR study in STEM.
Bob McCloud is a computer science professor and director of the Motion Capture Laboratory at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, he has done research and development in Kosovo, Albania and Turkey. His lab’s new game, Big Red Adventure, had its beta release in late August of this year. Current projects include a simulation fame for architectural modeling and an adventure game based on smugglers operating in Cornwall, England during the early nineteenth century. He thinks Unity 3D is a terrific indie development platform.
Associate Curator – Akron Art Museum
Theresa Bembnister is associate curator at the Akron Art Museum. Her current research focuses on the influence of video games on contemporary visual art. Theresa holds an MA in art history and museum studies from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a BFA in illustration and creative writing from the Kansas City Art Institute. Relatively new to video games, Theresa is working on beating the level 6 dungeon in the original The Legend of Zelda.
Mars Ashton is an award-winning Indie Game Developer and Director/Assistant Professor in Game Art at Lawrence Technological University. He co-founded the IGDA SE Michigan Chapter and has been working to bridge the gap among game development communities throughout Michigan to foster connections and opportunities. His current project, Axis Descending, has placed in numerous showcases, exhibitions and competitions including Taco Bell’s Feed the eta, Terminus and Intel’s Level Up contest.
Amanda is a freelance consultant who designs and develops games, courses, and other experiences that focus on real-world change. She recently created Fake It To Make It (http://www.fakeittomakeitgame.com/), a social-impact game about how fake news is created and distributed. It has been played more than 60,000 times in the six months since its launch and is currently being translated into German and Italian. Amanda has an M.Ed. and fourteen years of experience designing learning – initially in the corporate sector, and now almost entirely in collaboration with NGOs.
I’m Jerry Belich, a game designer, inventor, storyteller, and professor! I created the award winning Choosatron and am passionate about using hardware, electronics, and software to create immersive interactive experiences. I’ve translated my work into game design education to help hone the design sense of students while also enabling them to discovering their unique creative processes through highly tactile alt ctrl prototyping. My latest project is a high tech, autonomous, escape room experience in Minneapolis, MN that emphasizes engaging narrative and cooperative play. It combined my love of narrative, alt ctrls, and good old fashioned puzzle design!
Raymond Chandler III
Raymond Chandler III is a board game designer, developer, and publisher. His first game, Corrupted Kingdoms was published in 2016 by Artana. He is currently building a game publishing company with his flagship game “City of the Big Shoulders” based on the Carl Sandburg poem “Chicago”. City of the Big Shoulders is a mixture of euro and 18xx-style genres, and features stock manipulation, worker placement, and resource management mechanics. It was named “The Best Game of Gencon 50” by Heavy Cardboard, has received high praise by reviewers such as Meeple Mayor, Meeple Mountain, The Cardboard Jungle Podcast, Undead Viking, The Deep End Podcast, The Good, The Board, and The Ugly, and has been featured on Board Game Geek’s youtube channel and website. Raymond is also working with Catan Studios to develop tournament management and organized play software for the board game industry, which has been used at the 2017 Catan World Championships, and the 2017 Catan Masters Tournament. You can follow Raymond’s publishing company, Parallel Games on twitter @parallelspiel or on Facebook as “Parallel Games”.
Nathanael is currently working as a VR Developer in the Columbus area. When not helping with the VR Columbus Meetup, getting his game on steam, or tinkering with projects, he can be found outdoors fishing, hunting, and camping with his family.