The Advisory Board for the MSc in Game Design & Development is second to none. Advisors play various roles in the program, from helping to shape curriculum to speaking to reviewing student games. We are grateful for their service.
Sela Davis – Senior Software Engineer, VREAL
Previously at WG Cells (Wargaming) and Xbox (Microsoft), Sela is best known for her work on Achievements for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. Sela is an advocate for women in games, and currently sits on the board of IGDA Seattle. On the side, she is a shown metal artist, a keytarist, and sometimes makes shiny things. Sela holds a MS in Game Design & Development from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, USA.
Colum Slevin - Oculus VR, Head of Experiences
Colum Slevin oversees the Emmy Award-winning Oculus Story Studio, as well as a portfolio of third party developers making 360 video, narrative, and real-time experiences for Gear VR and Rift. His early background in production for animated TV and features led him to Industrial Light + Magic, where he was Director of Computer Graphics, and later Vice President/Head of Studio Operations at Lucasfilm, where he was responsible for the animation division in California and Singapore. Colum joined Oculus in 2015 from Telltale Games, where he was Studio General Manager. He is obsessed with movies and, while he can never choose his favorite film, his current favorite quote is from Pulp Fiction: Mia asks “When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?” Vincent thinks about it and then responds, “I wait to talk, but I'm trying to listen.”
Adrienne Allen - Microsoft, Principal Designer
Adrienne Allen is one of the foremost, award winning UI designers, innovators, art directors and founders in Silicon Valley, with a professional focus on UI and UX design for educational games. She has been a well known figure on the Bay Area design and technology scene since 1997, and is currently a co-founder and Chief UI and UX Designer of Brainquake Inc., which Develop magazine hailed as the “future of edu-gaming”. She has held senior design leadership positions at Xbox/Microsoft, Amazon, Gazillion Entertainment, and ArcWW. Additionally, she has extensive design experience from some of the most prestigious product and brand development companies in the world, including IDEO and Landor. She has had multiple featured games and companies at Games For Change, guest lectured and mentored the K-12 program in game design at Digipen and is active in her support of multiple organizations that are helping to make technology and game design more accessible to underserved populations (Girls Who Code, GaymerX,) as well as being a judge for the past several years for IndieCade. Past accolades have included: 2014 Featured company Games for Change/TriBeCa Film Festival, 2013 KAPi award (innovation in Children's Media) 2012 Games for Change Award Nominee, CES 2011 Innovation Award, DEMO 09 People's Choice Award, 2009 National Parenting Publications Award Gold, Webby Finalist, Toy Industry Association Toy of The Year Award and many others.
Lee Machen - Intel, Director, Developer Relations
Lee Machen’s team handles all Intel engagements with developers of consumer software worldwide. This includes gaming, entertainment, creativity, social networking and anything else consumers are doing on their devices. It is Machen’s responsibility to know what is underway at the leading developers and to ensure technical compatibility and joint promotion with Intel's desktop and mobile PCs, tablets, phones and even servers.
Laralyn McWilliams - Skydance, Chief Creative Officer
Laralyn McWilliams is an award-winning game designer, creative director and producer with more than twenty years of experience across an unusually diverse range of audiences, platforms and genres. She started with PC game development in 1994, creating an adventure game which she sold to Microprose then founded a company to develop. Over the years, she's designed and helped build social, strategy, simulation, platform, brawler, FPS, and massively multiplayer online games. She's currently Chief Creative Officer at The Workshop Entertainment in Los Angeles, CA.
Laralyn was Creative Director for the ground-breaking MMO Free Realms, which the New York Times called "a triumph of the company’s own reinvention." Free Realms simplified and streamlined the MMO experience, acquiring a million players in its first 18 days, more than 13 million players less than two years after launch, and peaking near 30 million registered players.
Mike Acton - Insomniac Games, Engine Director
As Engine Director at Insomniac Games, Acton’s work is to lead one of the best engine teams ever assembled in the gaming industry focused on both usability and performance. Acton is a regular speaker and active in the game development community. He has made it his personal mission to (1) further games in the mainstream and expand their cultural influence and our understanding of that; (2) champion the voices of individual game developers and help to make sure the right people are heard though work like #AltDevBlogADay; and (3) "fix" some of the power-dynamics and cultural baggage in our industry so that we keep advancing and can adapt well to the real pace of change. Acton believes strongly that it is important give back to our community. None of us could have done our jobs well without relying on the work of others and those giants that came before us, and we have a duty to return that favor. Along with sharing the lessons he has learned through building technology for video games, he is also strongly motivated to improve the industry and connect on a more human level with players.
Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée - Michigan State University, Assistant Professor
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. expresses herself through writing, design, and art in games, comics, transmedia, and animation. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish, living near the Great Lakes as an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University. Most recently, she designed and created art for Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water. She designed and programmed Invaders (2015), a remix of the arcade classic Space Invaders. She also designed The Gift of Food (2014), a board game for the Northwest Indian College about Northwest Native traditional foods. Her ongoing work speaks to self-determination.
Charlene Putney - Writer, Larian Games
Charlene Putney writes for Larian Studios, currently developing Divinity: Original Sin 2. When she's not doing that, she lectures on RPGs and interactive narrative at DIT and Trinity, teaches yoga and writes speculative fiction. Previously, Putney worked for both Google and Facebook in management positions before pursuing a creative path. Putney speaks on the intersections between play and psychology, most recently leading 450 people in meditation at A:MAZE Berlin, speaking to full houses on "Arcane Play: Occult Influences in Games ... & Vice Versa" at GameCity and on “Playful Occulture: Application of Esoteric Techniques on Playful Culture” at the Playful Arts Festival. She also give talks on interactive fiction, recently at Pushing Buttons at the V&A, Circa Words and State of Play.
John Romero - Romero Games, Programmer & Game Designer
John Romero is an award-winning game designer, level designer and programmer whose work spans over 130 games, 107 of which have been published commercially, including the iconic works Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake. Romero has worked in the mobile, hardcore, mid-core, casual and MMO space. Romero has co-founded eight successful game companies including the likes of id Software, Gazillion Entertainment and, most recently, Loot Drop which is celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2015. He is considered to be among the world’s top game designers, and his products have won well over 100 awards. One of the earliest indie developers, Romero began working in the game space in 1979 on mainframes before moving to the Apple II in 1981. He is a completely self-taught programmer, designer and artist, having drawn his inspirations from early Apple II programmers. Romero co-owns Loot Drop and Romero Games.
Sheri Graner Ray - Big Noise Games, Director of Games & Production
Sheri Graner Ray started as a designer in the game industry in 1989 and has worked for such companies as Schell Games, Electronic Arts, Sony Online Entertainment, Cartoon Network, and many others. She has worked on many award winning titles such as Daniel Tiger, Star Wars Galaxies, Nancy Drew, Ultima, and GeoCommander. She is author of the book Gender Inclusive Game Design, Expanding the Market, and is one of the game industry’s leading experts on gender and computer games. She established and chaired the first Women and Games conference held in the US, was one of the founding members of WIGI and established the IGDA’s Women In Games Special Interest Group. In 2005, she was awarded the IGDA’s Game Developers’ Choice award for her work in gender and games. She is the CEO and Founder of Zombie Cat Studios, Inc. in Austin Texas and is a member of the Board of Directors of the IGDA.
Dr. John Sharp - Parsons The New School for Design, Assistant Professor
John Sharp is a game designer, graphic designer, art historian and educator. He makes games, teaches game design and other creative pursuits, and researches and writes about games, play, design, and art. John is the Associate Professor of Games and Learning in the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design. Along with Colleen Macklin, John co-directs PETLab (Prototyping, Education and Technology Lab), a research group focused on games and their design as a form of social discourse.
He has two published books, Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art (The MIT Press, 2015) and Games, Design & Play: A Detailed Approach to Iterative Game Design (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2016) and two forthcoming books — Fun, Taste and Games (co-authored with David Thomas, 2017), and Iterate: Ten Perspectives on Design and Failure (The MIT Press, co-authored with Colleen Macklin, 2018). John’s curation work includes “Spacewar!: Video Games Blast Off” at the Museum of the Moving Image, and co-curation of “XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design” at the Museum of Design Atlanta.
Along with Colleen Macklin (Associate Professor, Design & Technology, Parsons the New School for Design) and Eric Zimmerman (Arts Professor, New York University Game Center), John is a member of the game design collective Local No. 12 a company focused on finding play in cultural practices. And along with Peter Berry, John is a partner in Supercosm, where he focuses on interaction and game design for arts and education clients.
Brian Upton - Game on the Rails, Game Fixer
Brian Upton is a freelance game design consultant based in Los Angeles. At his company Game On The Rails he advises clients worldwide on pitching, prototyping, design, narrative, and production. He specializes in creative problem-solving, helping teams ship their games under tight time or budget pressure.
For 14 years he worked as a senior game designer at Sony’s Santa Monica Studio where he collaborated with external teams on titles such as Fat Princess, Warhawk, Sorcery, Everybody Has Gone to the Rapture, Bound and Here They Lie. Prior to joining Sony, he was the creative director at Red Storm Entertainment where he pioneered the tactical shooter genre as the lead designer of Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. He has served on the advisory boards of the game design programs at UC Santa Cruz, NYU and University of Limerick. He is also the author of The Aesthetic of Play (MIT Press 2015), a book about game design and meaning-making.
Ian Schreiber - Rochester Institute of Technology, Assistant Professor & Game Designer
Ian Schreiber has been in the game industry since the year 2000, first as a programmer and then as a game designer. He has worked on six published titles, two serious game simulations, and several other things he can't talk about since he's still under NDA. He has taught game design and development courses at Ohio University, Columbus State Community College, and Savannah College of Art and Design, and is currently an Assistant Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has released two free, open-access online game design courses. He is a co-founder of Global Game Jam, the largest annual game creation event in the world. He is on the advisory board of the Game Education Summit at GDC, and the editorial review board of the International Journal for Game-Based Learning.
Dren McDonald - NerdTracks, Director of Audio
Dren McDonald has worked in the game industry as an audio director, composer and sound designer on titles such as Gathering Sky, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Commander, Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate's Hideout HD, Skulls of the Shogun, Elevate (2014's Apple App of the Year), Cooking Dash 2016, Diner Dash 2015, Ravenwood Fair and over 60 other game titles. His music has been enjoyed by, literally, millions of players worldwide on several games that reached 20 million monthly players or more. His work has been nominated for awards by the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), GDC Online and IndieCade and he won a G.A.N.G. award in 2015 for his work on The String Arcade recording.
He currently operates his own game audio company, nerdtracks.com, and previously served as director of development for G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild, audiogang.org).He is a frequent speaker at GDC, GameSoundCon, Casual Connect, and IndieCade. He's currently teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the Technology and Applied Composition department as visiting faculty, where he also sits on the advisory board for that program.
He was the founder of Vaccination Records Co., releasing over 25 titles from 1993-2001. Beginning with a recording of John Cage's Europeras 3 & 4 (Mode 1993) he has performed on, or produced over 17 albums including Eyesore: A Stab at The Residents (1996 w/ Primus, Cracker & others) and The String Arcade in 2014, a recording of video game music arranged for string quartet for which 100% of the proceeds go to help fund a local El Sistema K-5 after school music program.
Marq Singer - Redstorm, AI Programmer
Marq Singer, a 17 year veteran in the industry, has had a long and varied career. He spent the late 80's and early 90's working in the film industry in a variety of projects and roles, which ranged from general crew for TV commercials to special effects for horror films, including the minor cult-classic Killer (1989). He has worked for Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft, Virtus Corp (Red Storm's parent company), and Timeline Computer Entertainment. He's worked as in engineer in various roles, but most recently as an AI and engine developer. Currently working for Hazardous Software, he has also been known by the moniker "That engineer with blue hair”.
Chris Gregan - Snozbot Games, Chief Engineer and Co-Founder
Chris Gregan has worked in the games industry for 14 years. He previously founded the Irish office for San Francisco-based PlayFirst Inc., and as Chief Architect he drove the company's global games technology strategy. He has lead developer credits on chart-topping mobile games including the smash hit Diner Dash and Cooking Dash franchises. He has a B.A. Mod (Gold Medal) in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin. Gregan is currently a founder at Snozbot and is the author of Fungus, a popular open source tool for creating storytelling games in Unity 3D. He is a passionate advocate for making game development accessible to everybody.
Dr Noirin Curran - Games User Researcher
Noirin Curran is an applied psychologist, passionate about the research and creation of immersive user experiences, and her
area of expertise is the psychology of immersion in games. Being fascinated by the experiences which can be prompted by modern
media, her work falls under the banner of Human-Computer Interaction, but her current focus is on Player-Computer
Interaction, investigating what gamers do, and why, and promoting user-centred design based approaches.
In her free time, Noirin has been heavily involved in the gaming community in Ireland, including event management, promotion,
and running the award-winning Warpcon and Gaelcon charity auctions for over 10 years, as well as having been invited to speak at and
work at events internationally. Noirin taught on HCI Research courses at University level over 6 years, and currently works on
experience design of gaming products at Logitech.