2023 Fall Symposium Schedule

Thursday, November 2nd

5:00 pm

Reception, Krannert Art Museum, Link Gallery

5:20 pm

Welcome,  Krannert Art Museum, Link Gallery
Katryna Starks
, iSchool Postdoc, Game Studies and Design core faculty

5:30 pm

KEYNOTE Presentation, Krannert Art Museum, Auditorium, Room 62  (lower level)

Terrence Masson: Storytelling, Research, Design & Play in the Creative Industries: Looking back and looking forward

Terrence Masson, Chair of MFA Computer Arts at the School of Visual Arts, and founding Director of Creative Industries at Northeastern University will share stories and lessons from his 30 year career.

Building interdisciplinary curriculum by drawing on entertainment industry experience, from Star Wars to South Park, has been a proven success, demonstrating how technology and the Arts can work seamlessly together at the highest levels of creativity, scholarship, and innovation.

Terrence Masson is an education and computer graphics raconteur. While Director of Creative Industries at Northeastern University he led the development of a new Game Design BFA, and additional dual majors with Art+Design, Communication Studies, Engineering and Computer Science. His visual effects, gaming and mixed reality projects include 20 feature films such as Hook, Titanic, Interview with the Vampire and three Star Wars movies. He worked with Microsoft Research on the original Xbox development, created the original CG animation method for SouthPark and his short film Bunkie & Booboo which won first place in the World Animation Celebration in 1998. A past ACM Distinguished Lecturer, his book CG101: A Computer Graphics Industry Reference (2007) remains an industry standard.

6:30 pm

Town Hall, Krannert Art Museum, Auditorium, Room 62  (lower level)

Imagining the Future of  Creative Arts @Illinois: A Transdisciplinary Town Hall – (Moderated by Terrence Masson and Judith Pintar, Director of Game Studies & Design)

This event brings together representatives of creative units across our campus, along with faculty members and students, for a discussion on cross-college collaborations. As the creative and entertainment industries undergo convergence in professional opportunities and the training needed to take advantage of them, traditional disciplinary divisions no longer serve our students in the ways they have in the past. The successful launch of Interdisciplinary Game Studies & Design has the capacity to provide a “back end” for ambitious new initiatives that we may envision together: creative ventures, industry partnerships, cluster hires, and interdisciplinary degree programs are just some of the possibilities that may emerge from this gathering.


Art & Design

  • Laurie Hogin, Professor, Painting + Sculpture
  • Eric Benson, Associate Professor and Chair of Graphic Design & Design for Responsible Innovation
  • Stacey Robinson, Associate Professor of Graphic Design & Design for Responsible Innovation


  • John Toenjes, Professor of Dance

Media & Cinema Studies

  • CL Cole, Professor, Department Head


  • Eli Fieldsteel, Associate Professor of Composition-Theory and Director of the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios
  • Megan “EJ” Eagen-Jones, Teaching Assistant Professor of Musicology and the Director of Undergraduate Studies


  • Ted Sanders, Associate Professor, Creative Writing, Creative Non-fiction
  • Daniel Roche, Lecturer, Professional Writing


  • Terri Ciofalo, Assistant Professor, Director of Production
  • Eben Alguire, Teaching Assistant Professor, Chair of Arts and Entertainment Technology
  • Amber Schultz, Clinical Assistant Professor, Design

7:30 pm –
8:00 pm

Reception, Krannert Art Museum, Link Gallery

Friday, November 3rd

All day

Exhibition, Armory 182
The Art of Storytelling: Selections from Art 299

View work created by students enrolled in Illustration: Composition & Storytelling, taught by Kofi Bazzell-Smith.

10:00 am –
11:55 am

Youth Experiential Learning Simulation (YExLS), Siebel Center for Design (lower level)

The Youth Experiential Learning Simulation (YExLS) helps participants see youth serving systems through the eyes of young people.  Developed with input and in collaboration with young people, participants explore education,  mental health, social services, employment, and other systems and services as they are experienced by youth.  Participants then use that experience to develop practice and policy reform ideas. More information can be found here: www.YExLS.com

Please arrive to the Siebel Center for Design (lower level) at 10:00 am. The simulation lasts two hours, and will finish by 12:00.Pre-registration is no longer required – walk-ins welcome!

12:00 pm –
12:55 pm

Roundtable, Armory 182
Creating a Vibrant CU Gaming Community – (moderated by Katryna Starks & Emilie Butt)

Join us for a lunchtime roundtable discussion on the ways we can support a strong C-U games community for both players and designers. Local professional and social organizations will present their work and how you can get involved, followed by an open discussion on what the C-U games community could look like. All attendees are encouraged to participate and join the conversation!


Kaity Bequette is an IT professional at the University of Illinois and recently began teaching Intro to Boardgame Design with the Game Studies Program. She’s a life-long boardgamer, and after designing her first game as a part of the CUDO Plays boardgame design competition, she joined the CUDO Plays committee and has been helping game designers in the CU Community bring their game ideas to reality ever since.

Jason Scott is the chair of IGDA Champaign-Urbana, an adjunct instructor on the Game Studies & Design faculty at Illinois, and a 25-year veteran of the video game industry, most recently as Principal Narrative Designer at Volition.

Andrew Stengele is a game designer, filmmaker, convention organizer, Time Magazine Person of the Year 2006, and an undefeated snowmobile racer. He is a co-organizer for Tabletop Central, a gaming convention that happens every September, and is on the committee for CUDO Plays. Andrew would probably have a few more titles here if he didn’t spend most of his free time watching professional wrestling.

1:00 pm –
1:55 pm

KEYNOTE Presentation, Armory 101

Brian Blalock: Growing Imaginariums: Playing Games to Do the Hard Work of Making Children’s Rights

The Youth Experiential Learning Simulation (YExLS) was originally conceived as a new way of teaching about youth serving systems focused on gamification and placing youth voice at the center.

Over the last six years, the facilitators have run it throughout the United States and in ten different countries, and are still learning from the hosts and participants what YExLS can be. It has been used as legal instruction for lawyers, trauma responsive training for social workers and probation officers, strategic planning for organizations and government departments trying to solve youth homelessness, priority setting and work planning for the courts, as a core part of an initiative on bias and institutionalized racism, as a policymaking tool by youth with lived experience, and more.

This talk will explore the structure and game design aspects of YExLS with a focus on how it has been used to impact policy and social change and to engage in the messy and difficult business of manufacturing children’s rights. We will also explore what it means to co-design both the experience and the resulting policy work with youth with lived experience as true partners.

Brian Blalock is a senior staff attorney at the Youth Law Center, a national civil rights law firm working for and in collaboration with youth. He has directed Research and Development (R+D) initiatives for the public sector, has run a child welfare, juvenile justice, and children’s behavioral healthcare system, and has been a public school teacher in the south Bronx. As a legal aid lawyer, he founded and directed a youth law practice, directly representing children, youth, and families in the Oakland/San Francisco area with a team of lawyers and social workers. Brian is co-founder of YExLS, a youth experiential learning simulation focused on social change and policy development through games. He has graduate degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and a law degree from Stanford Law School, where he has periodically been a visiting lecturer in law for the past decade.

2:00 pm –
2:55 pm

Panel Presentation, Armory 101
Libraries & Makerspaces as Centers of Creativity & Design – (Moderated by Emilie Butt; Duncan Baird)


Alex (Elisandro) Cabada is the Director of the IDEA Lab Digital Scholarship Center and the Emerging Technologies and Immersive Scholarship Librarian at Illinois. His research interest include studying the barriers to access, pedagogical affordances, and best practices for applying emerging technologies in higher education. Elisandro is dedicated to community engagement, reaching K-12 populations throughout the area through outreach and engagement programming utilizing emerging tech, such as Girls Who Code and MakerGirl.

Meli Taylor is a current MS/LIS student at the iSchool and a Pre-Professional Graduate Assistant at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library. She also holds an MA in East Asian Studies from McGill University, where she published her thesis, “Fan Worlds: Expanding the Horizons of Fandoms and Fan Studies.” She is an avid gamer and aspires to work with video games in her career as an academic librarian.

Neil Pearse has a background in theater technology and joined the University of Illinois in 2012 as a lead carpenter for the Krannert Center for Performing Arts.  He has since transitioned into the world of makerspaces, managing first the CU Community Fab Lab, then the Siebel Center for Design shop and lab spaces.  Throughout these roles the focus has been on empowering students to learn and hone hands on skills that compliment their academic studies.

Jamie Nelson is Associate Director, Educational Innovation at the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He drives innovation through collaborations with faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders on new and emerging technologies that are poised to advance (and occasionally disrupt) their teaching and learning goals. Jamie oversees the operations and programming of the CITL Innovation Spaces – Innovation Studio, VR Lab, and Idea Space – a series of educational, technology-enriched spaces designed to spur educational innovation. He has an appointment as Associate Director, Educational Technologies with the Disruption Lab at Gies College of Business where he works as lead on virtual reality, metaverse, and generative AI initiatives. He is also Advisor for Illini Esports.

3:00 pm –
3:55 pm

Panel Presentation, Armory 101
CITL Innovation Spaces: Bringing Imagination to Life – (Moderated by Jamie Nelson)

Education is undergoing an exciting transformation, emphasizing emerging and generative activities that promise to revolutionize how we learn. This panel offers a compelling journey through stories from faculty members who are spearheading educational innovation. These innovations encompass Virtual Reality Fashion Illustration, the Gamification of Artistic Historical Figures, and the Prototyping of a Shock Generator. Furthermore, we will experiment with Generative Artificial Intelligence in a fun and educational activity. Explore how innovation is redefining the educational landscape, and understand how to harness its potential to engage learners.


John Toenjes is a professor and the undergraduate director of Dance at Illinois at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a former president of the International Guild of Musicians in Dance. He established LAIT, the Laboratory for Audience Interactive Technologies, with support from NCSA in which he designed a platform for the easy creation of audience apps for the theatre and has constantly integrated emergent technologies with dance, performance, and music. In 2023, he presented his VR Dance Application “Master Dancer” at the DRHA (Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts) conference in Turin, Italy.

Chiara Vincenzi is an Italian fashion designer, textile artist, and educator. Before moving to the United States, she worked as a fashion designer, product designer, and graphic designer at multiple world-class fashion companies in Italy, where she gained extensive experience in the fashion design field. After moving to the United States, she continued her professional practice as designer consultant for fashion start-ups, focusing her work on the development of sustainable and ethical apparel lines. In 2017 she joined the School of Art + Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she currently holds a position as clinical assistant professor.

R. Chris Fraley is a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Psychology. He received his PhD from the University of California, Davis in 1999 in Social-Personality Psychology. In 2007 he received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Individual Differences. Chris’s research involves the study of attachment processes in close relationships, personality dynamics and development, and research methods.

Bob Dignan has worked in educational media production for over 15 years and serves as the Associate Director for Instructional Media Resources in the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning at UIUC. He and his team produce courses, MOOCs, event livestreams, VR experiences, medical and scientific animations and Open Educational Resources all atop of foundations in copyright, cataloging, archiving, universal design for learning and media accessibility. Bob also hosts a podcast, “Teach Talk Listen Learn,” and increasingly participates in campus discussions and resources around genAI as his teams begin to incorporate these new tools and workflows.

Rochele Gloor is the Innovation Studio Designer at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and has an MS in Creative Technologies and a BFA in Fashion Design. Her background and interests range from collaboration, entrepreneurship, experimenting with sustainable futures to bridge gaps in human nature and technology, and interdisciplinary ecosystems using emergent technologies such as AI, VR, XR, and AR. She presented her artistic research on VR spatial audio and aesthetics for wellness at Electronic Visualization and the Arts (EVA) in London in 2023.

4:00 pm –
4:55 pm

Panel Presentation, Armory 148
Playful Design @Illinois: Stu/dio & Campus Projects – (Moderated by Dan Cermak)

Interactive digital applications which facilitate both research and learning, have been developed at our university for many years, supported by internal funding and external grants. As a result of the Investment for Growth initiative, Game Studies & Design (GSD) has begun supporting such development with the launch of our student-led Stu/dio this year. In this panel we showcase student-developed projects that have been (or will soon be) created across the university and in the Stu/dio.


Daniel Cermak is the Game Studies Coordinator in Informatics. He spent 35 years in the video game industry with a focus on design, development, and production processes. He started the stud/dio in January of 2023.

Amber Schultz is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and the Academic Programs Developer for the Siebel Center for Design. Her research and teaching interests include experience design, interactive and playable theatre, escape room design, and transmedia play.

Eun Jeong Cha is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research spans across the broad domains of risk-informed decision-making in civil infrastructure and instructional innovation.

Aidan Wefel is a senior in Physics that has worked on multiple projects incorporating education in VR. He is currently the technical lead for the Immersive Learning Laboratory.

Saturday, November 4th

1:00 pm –
5:00 pm

PLAYTEST, Broadway Food Hall, Urbana

Poster for CUDO Plays Saturday event

CUDO Plays: Season 10 Playtest Convention

CUDO Plays is the seven-month-long, local boardgame design competition.

The Playtest Convention is one of the biggest events of the season. This is a day where the community is invited to come out and play the new game prototypes being developed by CUDO Plays teams. These teams need feedback from everyone they can to make their games great!

Please invite your friends, family, co-workers – everybody you know! The more playtesters there are, the more great feedback competitors will get! CUDO Plays has games for every taste and skill level. Come out and see what awesome things Champaign-Urbana can create.