2018 Next Gen Leaders

This Years Next Gen Leaders

Alyssa Askew has been an aspiring Producer since her first games studio role as a receptionist. From there, she spent three years at Electronic Arts Vancouver as a Production Coordinator, dabbling in Assistant Producer work and shipping her first three titles. Currently, she is working at Big Fish Games as an Administrative Assistant and collaborating as Producer on side projects with a few friends. In her spare time, Alyssa volunteers as Assistant Gaming Manager at GeekGirlCon, an organization that holds a convention each year and honors the legacy of women contributing to science, tech, comics, gaming and all things “geek.”

Anna Brandberg is a Swedish UI/UX Designer on The Sims FreePlay at EA Firemonkeys in Melbourne. She has lived on four different continents and holds certifications in Graphic Design and UX Design. She started her career as an Art Director for a Swedish board-game company, but quickly realised her passion laid within UI and exploring how people interact with digital games. Realising she craved sunshine, she moved to Australia where she landed at EA. Outside of work, Anna dances ballet and teaches femme-identifying gamedevs to skateboard. She is also an obsessive League of Legends player, and is currently assembling Oceania’s first all-women’s competitive team.

Saf Davidson is a narrative designer, podcaster, and robot mom known for her adventurous spirit and quirky humour. From directing a podcast network to freelancing as a writer, designer, and editor, Saf spend most of her time thinking, writing, or talking about storytelling. She currently chairs the IGDA New Zealand chapter and hopes to work more with the New Zealand game development community through her new role.

Osama Dorias
is a Senior Game Designer at Warner Brothers Montreal. In the past, he’s worked as a Game designer at Ubisoft, Gameloft , GEE Media, and Minority Media. He has taught game and level design at Dawson College where he is now the Coordinator of the Video Game Programs. He loves to empower people in expressing themselves through game making. He especially loves to give a voice to marginalized people and causes. He has hosted game jams, workshops and other community activities to this end, which has culminated in co-founding the Montreal Independent Games Festival.

As one of the pioneers of network culture research and an early explorer of Virtual Reality, Matthew Lee is passionate about using the power of games to change the world and improve people’s lives. Under his leadership, the IGDA Serious Games SIG works to promote inter-disciplinary collaboration, connect serious game communities around the world through organizing networking events and meetups, and advocate for greater awareness about serious games in the general game education curriculum. Outside the IGDA, he consults on serious games projects, creates innovation curricula for healthcare, and designs games and environments that promote mental and physical well-being.

Sara Lempiainen is a programmer and artist at her newly formed studio Alvstoft, working on interactive fairy tales based on Nordic folklore. She is exploring how to tell a story through designing puzzles that encourage playful ways of interacting with a mobile device. She previously worked for game engine companies (such as Unity) supporting users to create their games. Her involvement in the games community started while studying Media Technology at the Royal IT in Stockholm. With the help of talks and workshops, she aims to inspire women and spread the message that everyone can make their own games.

Taha Rasouli has lived and breathed video games for 35 years since they were first spawned and never used a checkpoint! Started their professional career in games as a video game journalist subclass. Leveled up from reading and translating hundreds of game development articles and books for Iranian game dev community. Changed to developer class and have been involved in more than a dozen local indie games in Iran as game designer or producer and is actively looking to co-op and help local teams make better games and survive. They love fast paced action games and JRPGs more than anything!

Fernando Reyes Medina is a Technical Game Designer at 343 Industries, creating exciting experiences for millions of Halo players. Born and raised in Mexico City, he graduated with a CS degree from ITESM. Fernando is the founder of Bee Collective, a non-profit game studio focused on creating interactive broadcasting games with 100% of the revenue going to charity. As one of the leads of Xbox’s Latinx in Gaming, Fernando organizes social and professional events that allow members of the Latinx community to break into the game industry and succeed. He believes in the true democratization of Gaming, where everyone has a game that talks to them and everyone is empowered to create their own games.

Jennifer Scheurle is a world-travelling Game Designer and public speaker. She has worked on 10+ released titles since she started working in the industry over 6 years ago. Jennifer was named as one of the 100 most influential women in games in 2016 by MCV Pacific. In 2017 and 2018, she made MCV Pacific’s 30 Under 30 list. In 2017, she made a physical controller set for Objects in Space, which was nominated for the Alt.Ctrl.GDC award. Currently, Jennifer is working as the Game Design Lead at Opaque Space, designing the internationally acclaimed Earthlight VR in collaboration with NASA. The game has won several international serious game awards and was Game of the Year 2017 at the Australian Game Developer Awards. The studio won Studio of the Year in the same year.

Steven Taarland is an associate producer at Abstraction Games in The Netherlands. He has a background in programming, having graduated with First Class Honours Degree in Computer Game Application Development from the University of Abertay, Dundee. Since then he has worked on various mobile titles in Scotland before moving into a Production role at Tag Games in Scotland. In his producer role he is able to apply his knowledge of programming,and his passion for game development to enable teams to develop amazing games! Steven is an advocate for Diversity in games, having ran an international game jam centered LGBT+ diversity, Rainbow Game Jam 2016 and 2017. He is also a board member of IGDA Scotland.

Kathleen Yin is the founder of Serious Games Australia and New Zealand, the only professional network that presents all who work on serious games in the Australia and New Zealand region. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the IGDA’s Serious Games Special Interest Group, and also has her own little indie studio in her off time. She is holds a PhD in pharmacology and her day job is with Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where she is a health informatics researcher focusing on the impact of serious games in health.

Welcoming Back Last Years Next Gen Leaders

Jennifer Ashiru is an Associate Producer at Cartoon Network Games, where she produces fun and innovative mobile games for a TV network she grew up watching as a kid. In her current role, she is responsible for working with and directing the efforts of key stakeholders and third-party developers through all phases of game development. Her love for games stems heavily from the unique visual storytelling that they offer — some might even say she’s a huge point and click nerd. Additionally, Jennifer has produced many mobile games for Cartoon Network such as Superstar Soccer: Goal!!!, Blamburger, and Super Slime Blitz.

Brian S. Chung is a game designer, event producer, and educator. He has over a decade of design experience, and some of his games have been played by millions of players worldwide. Community is at the core of all of his work. He has hosted events for hundreds of developers and thousands of players. He is a director at The Sheep’s Meow, an independent game development studio and a local community organization based in the New Jersey / New York City area.

Rebecca Cohen-Palacios is a UI artist / developer, working on an announced title at Ubisoft Montreal. She’s shipped games like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Shape Up (Kinect). Before switching for a career in game development, Rebecca spent six years designing user interfaces for websites, apps and digital experiences. She’s also the co-founder and director of Pixelles; a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering more women-in-games through free programs, events and community love + support. Rebecca is a passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion, community organizing and driving change through grassroots initiatives.​ Maybe one day she’ll be able to play a character with big curly hair like hers.

Caroline Guevara is a Production Coordinator for the Mobile Games Department at Cartoon Network Digital. She is in charge of creating ad-driven and premium titles for the mobile market and web with the lovable quirky characters of current Cartoon Network shows. As a producer, she works with third party developers from all over the country on a daily basis to create memorable and engaging games. She has published a variety of mobile games including Powerpuff Girls: Flipped Out!, What’s Up, Snoopy? and StirFry Stunts. She enjoys all things Batman and is a proud Latina.

Wyn Rush is working to revolutionize the way we experience stories by creatively integrating intuitive mechanics into interactive fiction and non-fiction. She has been a game designer in the casual mobile market for four years, where she has worked on everything from chat story apps to top-ten-ranked match-3 games. Her upcoming adventures for 2018 include: organizing game jams in the Bay Area, writing a workbook on narrative design, and joining a new studio whose vision for the future of mobile storytelling excites Wyn beyond comprehension. Wyn believes that play can help prepare us for a brighter future; make us better, healthier, happier, and more connected.
In her free time, Wyn enjoys her 13 lb rabbit Uhura, her loving partner, and burritos.

Karen McCarthy is a Character Artist at EA Tiburon currently working on the narrative team for Madden NFL. She is an advocate for diversity in games and was a key contributor to bringing the WNBA to NBA Live. She actively volunteers to help promote women and LGBTQ in the gaming community. Most recently she spoke at the 2018 Press Play Conference which aims to help young women pursue careers in the video game industry. Karen is a past IGDA scholar and alumnus of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF with a MS in Interactive Entertainment.

Llaura McGee is an Irish artist, writer and game maker. She is dedicated to an experimental and diverse video game landscape. Currently Llaura is best known for ‘CURTAIN’, which follows the destructive relationship between two women in a Glasgow punk band. It won AMaze Berlin’s Grand Prize and the WGI’s first ever award to a video game. In 2015 she founded the independent studio ‘DREAMFEEL’ and they’re currently at work on their first commercial title, ‘If Found, Please Return’ where the end of the world comes to the West coast of Ireland. The game won three awards and a commendation in the 2016 Irish Design Awards including Grand Prize. Also, she thinks you’re cool. Neat.

Maria Mishurenko is an independent game developer and experiential designer from Brooklyn, NY. In her work she explores new approaches to education in the fields of philosophy, psychology and human-computer interaction using emerging media. Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and has a background in documentary filmmaking and animation. Maria is currently a MFA student at the NYU Game Center.

Juan Vaca is a Narrative Designer at Telltale Games. He encourages diversity and authentic representation in storytelling. Juan believes the player agency created in games is a powerful tool for empathy and interpersonal growth. Juan volunteers as a motivational speaker helping at-risk youth and underrepresented college students break into the gaming industry. He credits his mindfulness and optimism to the discipline and life skills he learned in the Marines. As a mental health advocate, Juan shares advice, feedback, and his experiences with PTSD via social media and as a conference speaker. He volunteers with Stack-Up.org assisting fellow veterans transition out of the service through a community built around gaming. His credits include: Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Batman, Minecraft: Story Mode, Tales from the Borderlands, The Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers: Battle for Earth, and Deadpool.

Leena van Deventer is a writer, game developer, and educator from Melbourne. In 2013 she co-founded WiDGET, a support group for women and non-binary game developers with over 800 members. In 2016 she co-authored “Game Changers: From Minecraft to misogyny, the fight for the future of videogames” for Affirm Press with Dr. Dan Golding. Leena was on the curatorial advisory committee for ACMI’s “Code Breakers” exhibition, and is the Deputy Chair of the Games and Interactive Advisory Committee for the Australian Writers Guild. Leena also sits on the Board of Directors of the Victorian Women’s Trust.