2007 Game Symposium Topics & Biographies

Morning Keynote Speaker, Katie Salen

Katie is Acting Director, Parson School of Design Graduate Faculty. Writer, Editor, and Designer. Worked on a range of projects for clients including Microsoft, SIGGRAPH, the Hewlett Foundation, XMediaLab, the Design Institute, gameLab, and mememe Productions. Co-author of Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals and The Game Design Reader. Member of Playground which recently worked with areacode to invent a new genre of games. Currently working on two projects funded through the MacArthur Foundation focused on digital media, games, and learning, and is producing two new media works for the ZeroOne Festival. A contributing writer for RES magazine, and has worked as an animator on Richard Linklater's critically acclaimed animated feature Waking Life. Partnered with screenwriter and director Hampton Fancher to develop an animated storytelling experience distributed through Xbox Live. Has curated programs at the Lincoln Center, Cinematexas, ZKM, Exploding Cinema, and the Walker Art Center on machinima.  She has taught at universities including MIT, the University of Texas, New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, and School of Visual Arts.



Chair, Katie Salen 

Mary Flanagan, Hunter College & Other Places

Mary writes about popular culture and digital media such as computer games, virtual agents, and online spaces in order to understand their affect on culture. She investigates everyday technologies through critical writing, artwork, and activist design projects. Flanagan's work has been exhibited internationally at museums, festivals, and galleries, including: the Guggenheim, The Whitney Museum of American Art, SIGGRAPH, The Banff Centre, The Moving Image Centre, New Zealand, Central Fine Arts Gallery NY, Artists Space NY, the University of Arizona, University of Colorado-Boulder, and venues in Brazil, France, UK, Canada, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Australia. Her projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Pacific Cultural Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ananda Gupta, Breakaway Games

"Ananda has worked at BreakAway since March 2003.  He was lead designer on "A Force More Powerful", a strategy game about nonviolent struggle, and worked in both a QA and a design role on "Civilization 3: Conquests" the previous year.  He is also the co-designer of "Twilight Struggle", a board game about the Cold War.  "Twilight Struggle" sold out faster than any of the publisher's previous titles, and was nominated for eight major awards, winning five (two Charles S. Roberts awards, the International Gamers Association award, and two Golden Geeks, one for best wargame and one for best 2-player game).  His most recent project was "Battle for Middle-Earth 2: Rise of the Witch-King", an expansion pack to EA's "The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth 2".  He received his B.A. in philosophy and economics with honors from Tufts University in 1998. 


Tim Sweeney  '04- Lead Game Designer

Tim is the lead designer for PeaceMaker. Tim has done designs for collaborative applications at IBM Research in Cambridge, MA. He has also been perfecting several original interactive simulations as part of his own experiments in the field and writing essays on them as a continuation of his thesis work. Tim holds a Masters of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon and a BS in Computer Science and a BS in Psychology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Panel:  Working with Wacky Hardware

Chair, Steve Meretsky, Senior Designer, Blue Fang Games, Chair

Steve for the last five years has helped organize and moderate the Casual Games Summit at the Game Developers Conference.  He started his game career at Infocom, writing many of that company's now-legendary text adventures. His first game, Planetfall, introduced the beloved character of Floyd the Robot. He also collaborated with author Douglas Adams to turn The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy into the #1-selling game of 1985; in 2005, the 20th anniversary release of Hitchhiker's Guide won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Online Game.  Steve's other Infocom titles include Zork Zero, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and A Mind Forever Voyaging.

In 1994, Steve co-founded a studio called Boffo Games, and designed the unique Hodj 'n' Podj, which combined the gameplay of a classic board game, a fairy tale setting, and 19 embedded casual games.  In 2000, Steve became Creative Content Director at WorldWinner.com taking it from pre-launch to being the number one skill games site on the Web. He has consulted on game design for many companies including Disney, Hasbro, Blizzard, and Harmonix.

Steve has a B.S. from MIT, is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, is a co-organizer of the annual Game Designers Workshop, and is a charter member and past board member of the IGD A.


"Designing Applications That See", Dan Maynes-Aminzade,  PhD candidate in CompSci at Stanford University

Dan is holds an MS, in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT where his thesis was "Applications of Computer-Controlled Actuation in Workbench Tangible Interfaces,"  and a BS in CompSci from Carnegie Mellon.  He researches  techniques for organizing and browsing collections of geo-referenced digital photographs. He has extensive experience in business at Fuji Xerox Palo Alto Laboratory (FXPAL), Palo Alto, CA where he built, deployed, and evaluated new features for the FXPAL Bar, a proactive contextual recommendation system.  Dan also researched tangible user interfaces, novel input and output devices, and software techniques for collaborative multi-user interaction at  the Microsoft Corporation, and he created video import filter components for Project Blackduck, an ebook authoring tool engineered as a suite of plug-ins for the Adobe InDesign desktop publishing application for Walt Disney Imagineering, Glendale, California.



"Facial Tracking and Emotion Recognition" with Quing Ji,  Associate Professor in Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Qiang Ji received his Ph.D degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington .  Prior to joining RPI in 2001, he was an assistant professor with Dept. of Computer Science, University of Nevada at Reno. He also held research and visiting positions with Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, the Western Research Company in Tucson, AZ, and the Air Force Research laboratory in Rome, NY. Dr. Ji currently serves as the director of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL).

Prof. Ji is a senior member of the IEEE. He is an associate editor for Pattern Recognition Letters journal and is currently on the editorial board of Image and Vision Computing journal. He was the lead guest editor of a special issue on eye detection and tracking in the journal of Computer Vision and Image Understanding. Prof. Ji has been on the program committees of many international conferences and workshops.

Prof. Ji's research interests are in computer vision, probabilistic reasoning with Bayesian Networks for decision making and information fusion under uncertainty, human computer interaction, pattern recognition, and robotics.



"The Wii" with Jesse Raymond, Vicarious Visions

Jesse has been with Vicarious Visions for six years and worked on more than a dozen titles for Nintendo platforms. He specializes in character handling and other design-sensitive engineering. Jesse most recently implemented the controls for the Wii launch title: Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Jesse previously studied Computer Science and Electronic Media Arts and Communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His work delves into the challenges of bringing a title from a standard controller to the Wii controller.



Moderator:  Michael Lynch,

Karthik Bala '97, CEO/Chief Creative Officer, Vicarious Visons

Karthik has led Vicarious Visions since its formation in 1994. He's been in the gaming business for ten years and has had diverse roles ranging from programming, art / animation to marketing and public relations. Karthik enjoys finding innovative solutions to technical and art challenges and always asks for the impossible :). To date, Karthik has over 40 published game titles to his credit on a variety of different platforms. He holds degrees in both Computer Science and Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Michael Lewis '93, CEO, Cryptic Studio

Featured in Forbes magazine, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate Michael Lewis molded Cryptic from a dream into a multi-million dollar reality.  At his former companies, Reality Simulation Systems and Stellar Semiconductor, Michael pioneered a highly successful 3D graphics technology that was eventually acquired by Broadcom Corporation in March of 2000. Michael then continued on to found Cryptic Studios. He brought together a highly talented management team, and has grown the development studio to over 70 employees. The result of that hard work is City of Heroes® and City of VillainsTM. Both games won numerous awards including MMORPG Game of the Year from Computer Gaming World and Spike TV and transformed Cryptic Studios into a highly profitable company.


Michael DelPrete '04, President Agora Games

Mike is the founder and President of Agora Games. His company creates online gaming communities for clients such as Activision, Konami, and Nintendo. Michael has been developing online communities for the past 10 years, and has his Masters degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His current focus is on the intersection between online gaming and the communities that support it.


Zach Barth, '09, CompSci & SCSE 

Zach is a Junior at RPI, currently persuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Computer Systems Engineering. Driven to make games from a young age, Zach's interests are in the areas of novel immersion interfaces and mid-game content creation. He is the lead programmer for the capAbility Games research project and will be working as an intern at Breakaway Games this summer.

Corey Nolan, '10, EMAC/CompSci

Corey is a sophomore here going for a dual BS in EMAC/computer science and a minor in game design. In the past year, I attended the Serious Games Summit as a Microsoft All-Star scholar in Washington D.C., and volunteered as a Conference Associate at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco. I'm currently an undergraduate research assistant to Professor Isbister, and will be interning this summer with Pop & Company in NYC.

James Morris-King, '09, Management/CompSci

Afternoon Keynote Speaker, Jason Della Rocca

Jason is the executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), a professional society committed to advancing the careers and enhancing the lives of game developers. Jason and the IGDA focus on connecting developers with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community -- such as quality of life, creative freedoms, workforce diversity and credit standards. As the spokesperson for the IGDA, Jason has appeared in countless news outlets (e.g., Wired, Nightline, LA Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal, G4, etc) and has spoken at conferences around the world (e.g., GDC, E3, TGS, SIGGRAPH, ChinaJoy, DiGRA, etc). Jason has been a member of the game development community for over a decade, and has spent time at Matrox Graphics, Quazal and Silicon Graphics.


capAbility Games, Special Presentation  -- demonstration during Game Symposium in the Biotechnology Center Auditorium lobby

 The capAbility Games project is a collaborative effort between RPI students under the direction of Assoc. Prof. Kathleen Ruiz and the Center for Disability Services Adult Day Services Division. The goal of the project is to create a series of simulated learning environments or serious games for individuals with disabilities to have an alternative and fun way to learn skills related to independence in their daily lives. While it is hoped that many daily activities could eventually be part of the skill sets for the simulations, the pilot is a grocery shopping trip where an individual with disabilities shops for a meal based on a meal plan and shopping list. The students have created a "virtual cave" type of environment based on the layout of a local Price Chopper store where you actually feel as if you are an individual in a wheelchair maneuvering down a grocery aisle and choosing your purchases. The plan is to adapt this with a variety of accesses so that people with various disabilities can use it as an additional learning tool. The current prototype uses a joystick.  Many thanks to Price Chopper for their cooperation with this project and for the scavenging ability of the participants in finding needed equipment with little resources. It is hoped that the prototype will be of assistance in finding resources to continue this important project.

Paricipant Bios 

Kathleen Ruiz, assoc. Prof. of Electronic Arts,  creates and develops graduate and undergraduate curriculum in the visual and integrated electronic arts. Consulting for and teaching studio courses including Experimental Game Design, Photography, Intermediate Digital Imaging, Virtual Environments, Advanced Projects in Digital 3D, Media Arts Studio, Animation, and Creative Design in Information Technology.  Undergraduate advising and research project supervision. Graduate thesis chairing and advisement and coordination of graduate teaching assistants. Artistic research in motion capture, advanced digital imaging and photography, motion tracking, and interactive simulation.  Member, Gen/Net: A Gender, Science and Technology Group. Co-authored the Minor in Game Studies at Rensselaer. Recommend and co-ordinate symposia and visiting lecture series in interdisciplinary studies in the arts. Founding member of the ErGoGenic Game Research Group and the CapAbility Games Research Project.

Mary Kim Purcell is the Deputy Executive Director of Adult Day Services at the Center for Disability Services. She has a BS in Child Development from the State University College at Oneonta and a MSEd in Special Education from the College of St. Rose. Technology for individuals with disabilities is vital for those served within the Center's Adult Services programs and the collaboration with the faculty and students at RPI is a dream come true. Mary Kim also has a son Braedan who is an Interactive Media and Game Design Student at WPI and keeps her "in the loop" of what goes on in the gaming world.

Mary Hooper is the Administrative Director of Vocational Services at the Center for Disability Services.  She earned a BS and MS in Special Education at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.  Keeping up with changes in modern technology, and offering state of the art technological opportunities for our consumers, is both exciting and challenging in this fast paced world. The partnership with R.P.I. is an extremely exciting time for us as we all need to be able to think out of the box to create new opportunities and creative services.

Dick May is the Program Coordinator for the Technology Center with in the Adult Day Services at the Center for Disability Services. He has an Associates Degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Human Services. Dick has seen the amazing benefit adaptive technology has had for people with physical challenges over the years and feels very fortunate to join forces with R.P.I. on the capAbility gaming project. He is also part of the team that works on capAbility Magazine and looks forward to the achievements of the students and faculty that have worked on this gaming project.

Ed Bartz has been an employee for the Center for Disability Services for 10 years. Ed has an associates degree in accounting from Ulster County Community College, along with additional course work at SUNY New Paltz and the  College  of Saint Rose. Ed has made remarkable milestones overcoming barriers in his life and is extremely independent because of it. He knows first hand what a positive effect technology has made in his life. Ed is the Editor of capAbility Magazine. He chairs the Consumer Advocacy Group for the Vocational Training and Services program. Ed is also an outstanding representative for the Center and has presented at many events.

Ashlye Cheely, M.S. CCC-SLP  is a Speech Language Pathologist at the Center for Disability Services.  She earned a BS and MS in Communication Disorders from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.  Ashlye maintains a constant interest in technology related to communication needs and computer access for people with disabilities. She has a focus on augmentative alternative communication as well as executive functioning skills for consumers with special needs. This project with RPI presents her and the team with an exciting opportunity to merge communication skills, executive functioning skills and technology with the excitement of a game environment. 

Jennifer Ash, '09, is majoring in Psychology with minors in Game Studies and Electronic Arts, with a strong interest in Human-Computer Interaction. Her role in the project is that of project manager/designer, with contributions to the project being storyboarding, working within the game mechanics and user interface, product design, and scheduling.

Peter Mueller, '09 is studying Product Design and Innovation. His role in the project thus far has been to create the game world in Maya. Other interests include thermal and fluids engineering, industrial design, and the interaction between society and technological development.

Terry Lucas, '07 is majoring in Information Technology.  Beside his interest in IT, he is also passionate in the area of 3D graphics and animation. He plays the role of the animator in this research project using Maya, After Effect and Motion Builder.