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Mentors & Facilitators


At the 3G Summit there will be 5 special guests: Mary Flanagan, Tracy Fullerton, Jennifer Jenson, Erin Robinson and Susana Ruiz. All are prominent in the game field as game designers, artists, researchers, and educators. They will be participating in the 3G Summit not only as panelists, but as mentors of our 50 teenage developers.

Mary Flanagan works as an artist, scientist, and humanist. Her groundbreaking explorations in these arenas represent an innovative use of methods, tools, and technologies to bind research with cultural production. Known for her theories on playculture, activist design, and critical play. As a researcher, she focuses on popular culture, digital studies, and computer games to look at issues of representation, behavior, equity, and process. She has written more than 20 critical essays on digital art, cyberculture, and gaming in periodicals such as Art Journal, Wide Angle, Intelligent Agent, Convergence, and Culture Machine, as well as several books. Her books include reload: rethinking women + cyberculture (2002), re:SKIN (2007), and the most recent, Critical Play (2009), all with MIT Press. She writes about popular culture and digital media such as computer games, virtual agents, and online spaces in order to understand how they affect and reflect culture.

Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer and associate professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she directs the Game Innovation Lab. This design research center has produced several of the most influential projects to be released in the emerging field of independent games, including games like Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey — a collaboration with media artist Bill Viola. Tracy is also the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a design textbook in use at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Recent projects include Participation Nation, a game to teach U.S. history and civics, developed in collaboration with Activision-Blizzard and KCET; Pathfinder, a strategic college preparation game; and Walden, a simulation of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment at Walden Pond. Prior to joining USC, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ, Sony Game Show Network’s Inquizition and TBS’s Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Tracy was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive, Creative Director at the interactive film studio Interfilm and a designer at Robert Abel’s early interactive company Synapse. Notable projects include Sony’s Multiplayer Jeopardy! and Multiplayer Wheel of Fortune and MSN’s NetWits. Tracy’s work has received numerous industry honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television and Time Magazine’s Best of the Web.

Jennifer Jenson Gender and gameplay scholar and game designer (Epidemic and Tafelmusik as well as tech-savvy feminist scholar, game designer, and expert rock band drummer.
Jennifer Jenson is Associate Professor of Pedagogy and Technology in the Faculty of Education at York University. She has published on gender and digital game play including a current review for Simulation and Gaming on that topic, on gender and technology, and the design and development of digital games for education. For the past six years, she has directed a series qualitative research project that examines girls and boys gameplay in during school and after school contexts, documenting the ways in which past work on gender and gameplay has mistakenly conflated gender with novice gameplay status. In addition, Jenson’s educationally focused game design projects have included two health-based games, Contagion and Epidemic: Self-Care for Crisis as well as a Baroque music music game, Tafelmusik: The Quest for Arundo Donax. She is currently President of the Canadian Game Studies Association (http://www.gamestudies.ca) as well as co-editor of the association’s journal, Loading (http://journals.sfu.ca/loading). Her most recent favorite game is Mario DIY, and she continues to love all things related to Frogger.

Susana Ruiz – Independent game designer, scholar, and media artist (Darfur is Dying and Finding Zoe) who works in the intersections between art, journalism, game design and documentary.
In partnership with mtvU and a team of passionate and socially conscious students, Susana Ruiz developed Darfur is Dying, a pioneering game for social change, which received critical acclaim from experts, won numerous awards, and helped garner the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ prestigious Governors Award. The game was said to be one of the best representations of life in Darfur by Pulitzer Prize winner New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and was presented in Capitol Hill to members of the U.S. Congress. As a direct result of the gameplay, thousands of letters were sent to the President and Representatives in Congress petitioning for legislation that aids the people of Darfur. Susana’s follow up project in collaboration with the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children – Finding Zoe addresses gender stereotyping and teen dating abuse. It won the Ashoka Changemakers and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s global competition Why Games Matter: A Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care and the Adobe 2009 MAX award for Social Responsibility. She has presented at numerous media and game festivals as well as academic conferences, and has been interviewed by major news venues including The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, NPR’s Morning Edition, NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN, and ABC World News. She received a BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and an MFA from the University of Southern California, where she is currently pursuing her doctoral studies. She is the co-founder of the design collective Take Action Games, which seeks to address critical social issues via innovative gameplay.

Erin Robinson A rising star on the independent gaming scene, Erin Robinson is a game designer, artist, and entrepreneur. Her games Spooks, Nanobots, Little Girl in Underland, and most recently Puzzle Bots have racked up an impressive number of game competition awards over her short career. She has also given talks at national gaming conferences (including GDC, the Independent Games Summit, and the Ottawa International Animation Festival) about everything from humor in games to real-life permadeath. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Queen’s University in Canada, where she also wrote comics for her school paper. Erin brings a unique combination of storytelling and puzzle solving to her witty, complex, and thoroughly immersive games. She also acts as a tireless organizer and champion of the indie games community, in Chicago and beyond. Her blog, comics, and games can be found at livelyivy.com.


Janell Baxter – Ms. Baxter is an Assistant Professor in the Interactive Arts and Media department at Columbia College Chicago, and is the coordinator of the Game Design major’s Art and Animation concentration. She has a MS degree in computer science from the University of Chicago, and a BFA in studio arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. For over a decade she has worked with teams building simulations and educational games, and is currently developing mobile games. More information about her and her work can be found on her website: janellbaxter.com.

Emily Kuehn – Emily Kuehn is an artist and instructor in the department of Interactive Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago.  Her artistic and teaching practices embrace experimental media art production, productive play, feminism, and radical art histories. Her art work has been shown nationally at the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, and internationally in Tallinn Estonia. She recently co-taught a gender inclusive game design workshop at the 2010 Allied Media Conference in Detroit.

Starrla Lares – Working in the video game industry for over 5 years, Starrla Lares is a 3D artist and illustrator who has contributed to several game titles including Ni-Hao Kai Lan: Super Game Day, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 for the PSP.  Possessing a Bachelor in Fine Arts from both “The School of the Art Institute of Chicago” and “The Illinois Institute of Art”, Starrla is passionate about fine art, history and languages, as well as video games, and is actively involved in the field of education by regularly speaking at local colleges to seniors in the animation and game art departments.

Cindy Miller – Cynthia Miller is an Alumni from Columbia College Chicago who graduated 2009, and was the first women graduate with a degree in Game Design. Cindy specializes in Level Design as well as Systems Design and is currently a design intern for Wideload Games, part of Disney Interactive Studios. She did contract work for Disney’s Guilty Party game for the Wii and has volunteered as a CA at GDC for the last 2 years.

Kim Richards – Kim Richards has been a research assistant for the YOUmedia and Digital Youth Network projects from 2007-2010 and is currently working on the Digital Literacy Assessment Project. She is working toward a Ph.D in the Learning Sciences program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests include new media literacies, learning and pedagogy. Kim is a certified 6th through12th grade social studies teacher with a master’s degree in education from DePaul University. She taught six years in the Chicago Public Schools district and Catholic Archdiocese as a reading instructor, social studies teacher and finally, as a curriculum and instructional coordinator at an alternative high school. Richards has a B.A. degree in sociology with a minor in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has volunteered for four years as a mentor and coordinator for the Social Justice Student Expo. She enjoys creating movies and participates in social media networks such as The Project for New Media Literacies social networking site (http://projectnml.ning.com/).

Mentor Assistants

Elisa Baker – Elisa is currently a Junior at Columbia College Chicago pursuing a degree in Computer Animation.  As well as Animation, she is also taking many classes in Computer Programming to learn as much about her chosen profession as possible.  After she gets her Bachelors Degree she plans to go on to Grad school for her Masters in Computer Science.  Outside of school Elisa does a lot of running and loves being outdoors.

Amanda Dittami – Amanda Dittami is a Game Development major at Columbia College Chicago who also enjoys programming, writing and drawing. She currently has two game demos: A (theoretically) music theory game/simulation called I.lusive Training in the Science of Sound |&| E.lusive Shaping of the Conscience in Music and a health game/operating system called STAVO: Food Flight OS. She is also working on a classically trained adventure game called RESTINCT that deals with psychological restraints and the effects it has on its host’s more instinctive natures. When not working on her own games Amanda can usually be found playing with a ball of string as well as other forms of interactive entertainment.

Noah Johnson – Noah is living in Chicago pursuing a Bachelor of Art degree in Video Game Development at Columbia College Chicago. He spends the majority of his time designing levels and playable environments.He loves to work hard and is constantly looking for ways to develop his own skill set. Noah is currently working on releasing a 2D platformer for the Xbox Live Indie Arcade.

Elise Motzny – Elise is proud of her accomplishments as a student and as a volunteer. She makes sure to keep herself on her toes and looks forward to my future at Columbia College and beyond. Elise takes facing various technological problems and turns them into accomplishments to help keep her life exciting and alive. She is thrilled to be a volunteer for the 3G Summit.

Anthony Sixto – Anthony Sixto is a native Chicagoan and is currently a 3D Animation student in Columbia College’s Game Design program. As well as working as a freelance illustrator, he is currently working as 2D artist on several independent video game projects. You can find his political cartoon,The Front Row, on his blog which is updated monthly.