Speakers

Keynote Speakers

 

Tanya DePass

Founder & Director of I Need Diverse Games
Tanya DePass is the founder and Director of I Need Diverse Games, a not-for-profit foundation based in Chicago, that is dedicated to better diversification of all aspects of gaming. She is a lifelong Chicagoan who loves everything about gaming, #INeedDiverseGames spawn point, and wants to make gaming better and more inclusive for everyone. She’s the Founder and EIC of @OutofTokensCast, the Diversity Liaison for GaymerX and often speaks on issues of diversity, feminism, race, intersectionality & other topics at conventions. Her writing appears in Uncanny Magazine, Polygon, Waypoint, Vice Gaming, Wiscon Chronicles, Paste Games and other publications.

Katherine Cross

Sociology Ph.D Candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center & Weekly Writer at GamaSutra
Katherine Cross is a Ph.D student in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, as well as a widely published gaming critic and sought after commentator on Internet culture. Her writing on the politics of the virtual has appeared in Rolling Stone, Polygon, The Establishment, Slate, Wired, among many others. She has also been interviewed by NPR, Le Monde, ABC Radio National, and more for her views on issues like online harassment. Katherine keeps a weekly column on videogames at Gamasutra where she writes about whatever is tickling her fancy in the world of gaming.

Damon Packwood

Gameheads Executive Director
Damon Packwood is a Bay Area native with years of experience working with urban youth in academic development and college access. His passion for film and media was ignited as a teen and an early love for movies inspired him to pursue a Film Studies degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also has his M.A. in Multimedia Studies from California State University, East Bay. Mr. Packwood is an avid gamer, writer, filmmaker, educator, movie connoisseur and tech head. He is also a passionate advocate for the use of multimedia and technology as a tool for education. His professional aspirations fall into three general categories: Organize, Educate, and Create. Mr. Packwood is a tech entrepreneur and has recently created the award winning Gameheads, a tech justice program fiscally sponsored by United Roots. Gameheads teaches video game design, video game development and DevOps to low income youth and youth of color and is located in Oakland, CA.

Presenters & Panelists

Allison Comrie

University of Southern California ; Browntourage
Allison Comrie has been a media artist for over 10 years, specializing in interactive & graphic design, narrative, and digital media. In 2014, she launched ‘The Plight of the ‘Girl’ Gamer’, Deconstructing the Stereotypes of Women in Gaming– an interactive web campaign whose aim was to bring awareness to the various forms of prejudice women face in the gaming world. Allison is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media and Games program. Allison is currently working in the Mix Reality Studio and the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center on VR and AR projects. Her goal is to create games that are more diverse in order to perpetuate a gaming community that is more unified.

What video game has influenced you the most?

Braid & Monument Valley

Emilia Yang

University of Southern California ; Browntourage
Emilia Yang is an activist, artist, and militant researcher. Currently pursuing a PhD in Media Arts + Practice at the USC, her research questions how transmedia storytelling and postcolonial new media practices, performance, and public art can foster social change and civic engagement.  

What video game has influenced you the most?
Dys4ia

Tonia Beglari

University of Southern California ; Browntourage
Tonia Beglari is a creative producer of socially thoughtful experiences that reimagine arts & culture entertainment and education. She is co-founder of the creative collective Browntourage and M.F.A. student in Interactive Media & Game Design at the USC.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Coming Out Simulator, Undertale, & Monument Valley

Kathy Chiang

University of California, Irvine
Kathy works for University of California, Irvine's new eSports program as the Arena Coordinator, managing their newly opened facility for gamers both on and off campus. As an undergraduate, she co-founded and led one of the largest gaming clubs in the world, The Association of Gamers at UCI. Her favorite games include Final Fantasy XIV, League of Legends and Path of Exile.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

League of Legends & Final Fantasy XIV

Samuel Sattin

writer
Samuel Sattin is a novelist, comics creator, and essayist. He is the author of LEGEND, THE SILENT END, LEAGUE OF SOMEBODIES, and ADVENTURE QUEST on Tapas. His work has appeared or been featured in The Atlantic, Nerdist, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Paste Magazine, Salon, io9, Kotaku, Vulture, Bleeding Cool, The Fiction Advocate, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Comics from California College of the Arts and has a creative writing MFA from Mills College. He runs an educational comics department in Oakland, California, and teaches at the California College of the Arts.

What video game has influenced you the most?

Final Fantasy IV

Kelly Martin

Indie Comics
Kelly Martin is an indie comics and artwork for hire person. She's most well-known for her indie comic; Dr. Lollipop. Her influences include science fiction, turn of the century advertisements, and Lisa Frank.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Pokemon

Hazel Newlevant

Roar Comics
Hazel Newlevant is a Portland-raised, Queens-based cartoonist and editor. Her work focuses on queer feminist history and autobiography. She is the author of comics including If This Be Sin and No Ivy League. She is the editor of Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers and is currently co-editing Comics for Choice.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Diablo II

Katie Longua

Independent Comics Artist
Katie Longua is an award-winning comic book artist and magical girl. An Illustration graduate from the Academy of Art University, Katie has published a host of comics (including the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini Comics-winning RÖK). She has contributed to several anthologies including Chainmail Bikini, Draw 'Em With the Pointy End, and 1001 Knights, and has been featured on Buzzfeed, Comics Alliance, and elsewhere. Engaged and impassioned, Katie loves creating comics with educational themes, making cool costumes, and drawing awesome space knights! Katie lives in Alameda with her partner Josh and a small army of transforming robots.

What video game has influenced you the most?

Shadow of the Colossus, Zelda, Pokemon, Legend of Mana, Super Metroid, & Sword & Sorcery

Io O'Clast

Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club, Degenderettes, & Angmar Center for Monster Rehabilitation
Io is an Agender anarchist science fiction and fantasy author who creates comics focused around anti-assimilationist queer life, mental illness, intentional community and class-war chaos magic. After dropping out of college where they briefly studied astro-biology, Io hopped trains and traveled the world touring with regrettable new-wave bands. Last year, they organized the Monster Mash Zine Fest as a benefit for sex worker advocacy. In their free time, they study folklore, co-run a publishing company and play D&D. Their interest in videogames lies less within industry matters and more as a medium for storytelling. Io is secretly a sentient plume of smoke wearing a trench coat.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Howling Dogs, Chexquest, Crash Bandicoot, The Sims (back when you could trap them in pools), Crazy Taxi, The Elder Scrolls, Rust, & Night in the Woods

Tobiah Zarlez

Microsoft
Hi, I’m Tobiah. I’m a Game Evangelist at Microsoft and an independent game developer from the SF Bay Area. Right after college, I started a company called Yobonja with a couple of friends. We made dozens of games, and eventually had a hit with “Blast Monkeys”, which was the number one app on Android for 6+ months. The game was downloaded over 12 million times in the first year, and people still play it and its sequel today. I started working for Microsoft in 2013. Now I spend my time learning new technologies, talking to developers, teaching them what I know, and helping them make better games and more successful companies. I still make games on the side, but now I get to focus on creating experimental games and interesting interactive experiences.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Undertale (a modern favorite), World of Warcraft (logged the most hours), & a special love for the Half Life series

Joanna Jian

San Jose State University
Currently a fourth year student at San Jose State University, and majoring in Digital Media Arts. I love playing video games and I have grown up playing almost all of the Pokemon series(I haven't played tournament nor snap I am sorry). I am an artist, but aspiring to become a game designer.

What video game has influenced you the most?

Professor Layton series

Harrison Pink

Hangar 13 Games
Harrison Pink entered the game industry in 2008 at the boutique game studio Thrust Interactive in Atlanta, GA. In 2011, he joined Telltale Games, working on the acclaimed The Walking Dead Game, winner of over 90 Game of the Year awards. He then worked on the DLC episode "400 Days" as well as Season Two of The Walking Dead Game. Harrison co-created and led the initial concept design for Tales from the Borderlands before accepting a position at Hangar 13 Games, where he works on Mafia 3 and its DLC.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Riven, Journey, Bastion, King's Quest

Catt Stewart

Game Artist & Level Designer
Game artist and Level Designer originally from Bristol UK; most notably built worlds for indie game Tangiers but has helped with a handful of others. Currently designing "Fashion Week" a game about fighting fascism.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Abe's Odysee, Tomb Raider, INSIDE

Carolyn Petit

Feminist Frequency
Carolyn spent four years as an editor for GameSpot, where her considerations of issues of representations in games made the occasional splash with readers resistant to this brand of criticism. She is currently the managing editor at Feminist Frequency, where she continues to do her own writing about games, while also collaborating on the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series and other projects.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

OutRun, Myst, Metal Gear Solid, Gone Home, Kentucky Route Zero, The Last of Us: Left Behind

B Cavello

IBM
B Cavello is an aspiring-polymath and activist. They have worked as a designer on experimental games and educational toys as well as the Kickstarter hit Exploding Kittens. B now works as a Watson Engagement Leader at IBM in San Francisco.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Tag

Jolie Menzel

Ubisoft
Jolie Menzel is a level designer at Ubisoft's San Francisco studio and the narrative designer on South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Before that, she was at Telltale Games where she worked on series such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands. She is passionate about games as a unique storytelling platform.  

What video game has influenced you the most?

Pokemon Red, Ms Pacman, Sonic Adventure 2