Cynthia Carter Ching, Principal Investigator
Cynthia was researching kids and games long before kids and games became a popular topic for research (so if there is some kind of indie-cred for this work, she has it). In graduate school at UCLA in the mid-1990s, her dissertation looked at how 4th-5th grade students thought about and collaborated with one another to design their own games using the Logo Microworlds programming environment. In 2007 Cynthia won the American Educational Research Association's Division C Jan Hawkins Early Career Award for her study examining how kindergarteners negotiate playing computer games in the classroom (hint: they’re sneaky!). Her official title is Associate Professor of Learning and Mind Sciences and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the School of Education at the University of California, Davis. But what that really means is that she has to spend a lot more time going to meetings than hanging out with the kids in her research projects, which makes her sad. Writing about hanging out with kids is almost as fun, though, so she recently released a book from Cambridge University Press titled, "Constructing the Self in a Digital World," all about the complex relationship between technology and identity for children and youth. Cynthia is also a runner and an avid user of personal activity monitors, although she recommends that you not fall on a rock while wearing one, as she once spectacularly smashed hers while on a hike in Yosemite National Park. She currently lives in Davis, California with her husband and two sons, all avid gamers.
Bruce German, Co-Principal Investigator
J. Bruce German, Ph.D. is Professor of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, and a champion of research in personalized health, which is founded on the concept that each person has different responses to diet based on their own genetics, metabolism and nutrition status. Dr. German’s research develops the means to understand how individual human metabolism responds to different diets. His laboratory group works to understand the molecular basis of these differences, how to recognize them, and design food strategies to complement them. They also develop analyses to allow individuals to monitor how their body reacts to various foods and to modify their consumption to maintain good health.
Sara Schaefer, Project Manager
Sara is the Associate Director of Children's Health & Education Programs, Foods For Health Institute. Her research and teaching are focused on transdisciplinary, translational efforts to create education that optimizes children’s health and nutrition. She has special interest in innovative technologies, gaming and other media tools that traverse socioeconomic, cultural and gender barriers to improve heath. She runs FFHI’s Children’s Health & Education Program, which guides each child to be “their own health clinician.” This program enables school children to experience health and science curricula infused with lessons around personal health indicators, self-monitoring devices and techniques. She formerly served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, where she helped communities confront challenges in child and maternal health, and speaks fluent Spanish. She holds a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology from UC Davis’s Program in International & Community Nutrition.
Ariel Hauter, Co-Principal Investigator; Executive Director, Play4Change Lab
Ariel has been the Executive Director of the Play4Change Lab since it's inception in 2010. He leads the team that scours the globe with our large braintrust to find, review and develop custom social change game projects that can shape the future. Along that road, he undertakes the business development activities necessary for those projects to be packaged and launched. He has previous experience in the film, e-commerce, experience design, and product design industries having worked at United Talent Agency, Zefer, MyWay.com (CMGi), and Tiles & Christiansen. He is also currently the Executive Director of The Hollywood Hill since co-founding it in 2004.
Robin Hunicke, Creative Director
Robin is a game designer and producer, with a background in computer science & fine art. She joined EA in 2005, where she worked on The Sims2, MySims, and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox series for the Nintendo Wii. In the spring of 2009 she joined thatgamecompany as Executive Producer of the award-winning PSN downloadable title, Journey. Recognized as an influential Woman in Games, Robin is an evangelist for diversity of thought and participation in game design and game culture. She co-organizes the annual Experimental Gameplay Workshop, has chaired the IndieCade Festival, and lectures extensively on how developers can create novel, experimental designs by focusing on the feeling.
Martin Middleton, Programmer
Martin is a programmer and explorer, who just moved to SF after 6 months traveling the world! In 2006 he joined thatgamecompany to work on the AI and constraint systems for the creatures in their first title, flOw. For Flower, Martin built out the engine’s procedural geometry systems, and distributed the game’s intensive grass simulation across the PS3 SPU processors. For Journey, Martin created several real-time, web-based tools for the art and design teams, while developing the game’s distributed, deformable sand terrain system. He also built Journey’s unique, peer-to-peer networking solution, which connects players seamlessly as their paths cross during gameplay.
Chelsea Howe, Designer
Chelsea likes making games that make a difference. At Zynga she designed and analyzed features that touched tens of millions of people, and at SuperBetter Labs she used research on positive emotion and social connection to make those touches more powerful, evocative, and meaningful. By night Chelsea designs award-winning indie games, runs the San Francisco Global Game Jam, and works with developers at Cornell University on experimental gameplay demos and youth outreach, all without a bat signal.This year, she was one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and received the Microsoft WIG Rising Star award.