Speakers and Presenters

ARGFest-o-Con attracts some of the most innovative and creative minds who are thinking about and working with transmedia and Alternate Reality Gaming. Our speakers and attendees have worked on notable campaigns such as The Blair Witch Project, I Love Bees, LonelyGirl15, ReGenesis, Perplex City, and World Without Oil. Each year, our team strives to present a line up that will appeal to a diverse audience from professional developers to casual players.

We are delighted to begin announcing another captivating cast for ARGFest-o-Con 2013.

Steve Peters, No Mimes Media

Keynote Speaker
Steve Peters
No Mimes Media

An Emmy®-winning experience designer, Steve began his career as a roller coaster operator, which probably explains a lot. A pioneering force in Alternate Reality Games and Transmedia Entertainment, he has worked on some of the biggest and most innovative interactive experiences to date.

In addition to founding No Mimes Media, Steve was VP of Experience Design at Fourth Wall Studios, where he worked on projects like the interactive web series Dirty Work and 6 Minutes to Midnight (for the feature film Watchmen).

Steve founded the Alternate Reality Gaming Network in 2002, has guest-lectured at schools including USC, Georgia Tech and Cal Arts, spoken at media conferences around the world, and projects he’s worked on have won multiple awards including an Emmy®, Cannes Lions Grand Prix Awards, SXSW Web Awards, One Show Entertainment Awards, and Webby Awards.


Yu-Han Chang, Ph.D.

Yu-Han Chang, Ph.D.

Dr. Yu-Han Chang received his Ph.D. in EECS from MIT in 2005, and his S.M. in Computer Science and A.B. in Mathematics and Economics from Harvard in 1999. He currently co-directs the Computational Behavior Group at the USC Information Sciences Institute, where he is a Research Assistant Professor in the USC Computer Science department. Dr. Chang’s research spans a broad range of interests that converge around machine learning, data analytics, and visualization of human behavior and spatiotemporal patterns. This research has been applied to diverse areas from education to games to vehicle tracking to professional sports.

Connor Fallon, Schell Games

Connor Fallon
Schell Games

Connor Fallon is a professional game designer with strong narrative leanings. From Fall of 2011 to Winter of 2012, he served as the Design Lead on “The Wall Will Fall” TV Tropes ARG, working with a talented team in order to create an experience layered with many levels of meta. His primary job was to integrate the story with the interactions that would drive it, including several elements specifically designed to encourage player creativity.

He currently is employed at transformational games studio Schell Games in Pittsburgh, where he works on games about sweater-wearing tigers and killer trains. He likes gnocchi, moral complexity, musicals, feminism, and lightly trolling his player base. His inane ramblings can be followed on Twitter @connorefallon.

Rick Healey

Rick Healey

Rick Healey first discovered alternate reality gaming in 2003, when he was given Perplex City cards while covering E3. Quickly getting hooked, he spent years honing his craft as a writer and editor before joining the team behind the TV Tropes ARG, The Wall Will Fall. Starting as Quality Control, he rose to the position of Editor, while also doing some puzzle construction and even some voice acting.

When not pondering his next transmedia experience, he enjoys video games, cooking, and spending time with his wife and infant daughter.

J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins crafts transmedia narratives, screenplays, and novels for such entertainment companies as A&E, Cinemax, Discovery, St. Martin’s Press, Smith & Tinker and Leviathan Games. Hutchins’ work has won several awards, including a CLIO. He has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR’s Weekend Edition, ABC Radio, and the BBC.

J.C. has performed writer and experience design roles on themed prequel experiences for Cinemax’s espionage series Hunted, A&E’s Stephen King’s Bag of Bones (a miniseries based on King’s bestselling novel) and other television projects. He most recently collaborated with film directors David Cronenberg and Lance Weiler on a transmedia experience, which will debut later this year.

Jeremy Irish

Jeremy Irish

Jeremy is the President, CEO and cofounder of Geocaching.com, the first official site for geocaching. His previous experience includes four years as a Cryptologic Linguist in the U.S. Air Force and over 11 years in web-based app development, including three years as a Webmaster for General Electric. Jeremy is responsible for managing Geocaching’s platform development, creative direction, and Geocaching Labs.

Rob Jagnow, Lazy 8 Studios

Rob Jagnow
Lazy 8 Studios

Rob Jagnow (Ph.D., MIT) is the founder and CEO of Lazy 8 Studios in San Francisco, CA.  The company’s flagship independent title, Cogs, won several awards and played a role in the ARG that coincided with the launch of Portal 2. The studio’s latest game, Extrasolar, blends aspects of ARGs and traditional game design to create a new genre that blurs the line between fantasy and reality.

Lucas J.W. Johnson, Silverstring Media

Lucas J.W. Johnson
Silverstring Media

Lucas J.W. Johnson is the Founder and CEO of digital storyteller Silverstring Media. For fifteen years, Lucas has experimented with interactive narratives, game systems design, and emergent storytelling. He is the author of several short stories, game designer and co-producer of The Time Tribe, and the creator of Azrael’s Stop. With a BFA in Honours Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, he runs the Transmedia Vancouver Meetup Group, and has spoken at conferences across North America on digital and transmedia storytelling. Find him at SilverstringMedia.com and @LucasJWJohnson.

Eric Kays

Eric Kays

Transmedia has ruined Eric’s life. It has become an addiction that Eric cannot shake. It all started in 2010 when he first discovered Flynn Lives. From there, he had to have more. He made his own game for the training organization “The Institute for Cultural Communicators.” He got his longest fix through his stint with the TV Tropes’ ARG “The Wall Will Fall.” This dosage nearly killed him, so Eric went into rehab for five months. However, once he got out, he went straight back to his addiction with a top secret project that should be released to the world soon. Will he ever escape the addiction? (He doubts he ever will.)

Eric worked as the Interactive Lead on TV Tropes’ ARG “The Wall Will Fall.” His job was to facilitate the interactivity between the characters and the players and integrate the interactive gameplay seamlessly into the story. When not at school studying Cinema/Television, he works as a freelance camera operator and Transmedia Producer.

Alice Leung, Ph.D.

Alice Leung, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Leung is a Senior Scientist at BBN Technologies. Her main research interest is how computer games and other immersive experiences can be used to shape or understand human behavior. Her previous projects include network science experiments, games to reduce cognitive bias, an investigation of ARG-based training for military staff-level skills, and a game-based testbed for cross-cultural team research. Alice holds a B.S. and PhD from MIT. She is grateful to ARGFest-o-Con for introducing her to SFZero and many associated adventures.

Mike Minadeo

Mike Minadeo

Mike Minadeo is a game designer whose projects have been featured at San Diego ComicCon, HRM’s Steampunk Symposium, Gam3rCon, and at New Roads School in Santa Monica. He gave a talk called “Creating Immersive Games” at the 2012 BIL conference in Long Beach, CA. In 2011, he won the Roy Amara Prize for Participatory Foresight, an award given by the Palo Alto based Institute of The Future.

He became fascinated with the world of Alternate Reality Gaming after a friend gave him a copy of “This Is Not A Game” by Walter Jon Williams. United Colonies ARG is his recent collaboration with Tanner Higgin, PhD., and GameDesk.

Haley Moore

Haley Moore

Haley Moore is a new media artist who specializes in the craft of tangible storytelling.  She has served as a prop maker and designer for projects such as the award-winning Canadian web series Ruby Skye, P.I., Reality Ends Here for USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and the classical ARG Monster Hunters Club. In 2012, Kickstarter backers funded her current tangible story series, Laser Lace Letters, which combines handcrafting, laser fabrication, and story archaeology to pull readers into a Victorian world of intrigue.

She can be found online at Toenolla.com.

Ken Morris

Ken Morris

Ken Morris believes in inspiring people’s imaginations by sharing new ideas that challenge what we think is possible in the world. An award-winning Sundance Producer (Obselidia 2010), Ken treats every moment as an opportunity to positively affect those around him. Originally from Texas, Ken has worked in the Film & Television industry in Los Angeles since 2007. He moved to Seattle last year to pursue photography and cinematography and subsequently discovered his love of glitch art.

Tom Pike

Tom Pike

Tom Pike was the Story Lead on The Wall Will Fall, an alternate reality game by TV Tropes. For two years, he built the game alongside the other leads and an ever-expanding team of writers and tech-folk. Tom’s job was to manage the writing team, and to map all the nooks and crannies in the game’s increasingly convoluted storyworld.

Tom likes branching stories and doesn’t like the word “virality”. He distrusts any publicity strategy which relies on magic instead of hard work.

He currently works as a digital media consultant for Hollywood films, which entails running Kickstarters, luring Internet talent to the silver screen, and convincing old media folks that webshows can bring in money.

You can follow him @StoryTom, where he spends most of his time wishing he were @Seinfeld2000.

Adam Russell, D.Phil.

Adam Russell, D.Phil.

Dr. Adam Russell is a Program Manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where he manages a number of research efforts, including the Tools for Recognizing Useful Signals of Trustworthiness (TRUST) Program, which seeks to use one’s own signals in order to assess the trustworthiness of someone else, and the Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-solving (SHARP) Program, which seeks to leverage advances in neuroscience to improve analysts’ capabilities to draw accurate inferences from diverse data.

As an anthropologist, Adam has a particular interest in understanding the influence of culture on cognition and human behaviors, which has driven two of his most recent Requests for Information: Emic, which seeks to explore new approaches or ideas that could develop first-person simulations whereby one can experience a situation or interaction as if they were someone from a different culture (or what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz called from “the native’s point of view”), and UAREHERE (Using Alternate Reality Environments to Help Enrich Research Efforts), which is exploring the feasibility of using trans-media platforms that blend the real world with experimental designs to help assess the external validity of lab-based social, psychological, and behavioral research conclusions.

Adam earned his BA in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and his D.Phil. in Social Anthropology from Oxford University, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. While reading anthropology at Oxford, he was no stranger to “alternate reality” games, becoming one of only a dozen Americans to have represented Oxford against Cambridge in the annual rugby Varsity Match (an event that has been played continuously since 1872, save for interruptions during the two World Wars). He also represented the United States in rugby at the international level during the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifying matches for the U.S. National Men’s Team (the Eagles).

Mike Selinker, Lone Shark Games

Mike Selinker
Lone Shark Games

Mike Selinker is the president of the Seattle game studio Lone Shark Games. An award-winning game and puzzle designer, Mike is best known to ARG fans for co-creating Citizens of Virtue and the non-alternate reality games Vanish and Repo Men, which pitted a handful of “runners” against the rest of the United States.

His puzzles regularly appear in Wired, Games magazine, and the New York Times. Both at Wizards of the Coast and Lone Shark, he has co-created such tabletop games as Risk Godstorm, Unspeakable Words, Lords of Vegas, Axis & Allies Revised, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and the live-action Disney World card game Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom; he also writes for video games such as Marvel Heroes.

His books include Puzzlecraft: The Ultimate Guide on How to Construct Every Kind of Puzzle, Dealer’s Choice: The Complete Handbook of Saturday Night Poker, and The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, and the upcoming interactive puzzle novel The Maze of Games.

Dana Luery Shaw

Dana Luery Shaw

Dana Luery Shaw had cancer as a kid. She lied about how she got the badass scar that snakes around her stomach, telling people that she had been shanked by a clown in downtown Baltimore city. (Apparently nephrectomies aren’t considered cool by kindergarten standards.) That’s how she got her start in telling stories.

Dana was the Creative Director on The Wall Will Fall, the TV Tropes alternate reality game that ran from September through December of 2012. She believes in the power of media to start conversations and ultimately connect people to the story, the story world, and each other. She is fascinated by the breakdown between audience and creator/performer inherent to interactive storytelling. She is about to begin her final year in USC’s screenwriting MFA program and is actively freelancing for Pemberley Digital’s Welcome to Sanditon and other projects. Follow her @thefakedana. (It’s okay – it’s really her.)

Jordan Weisman, Harebrained-Schemes

Jordan Weisman

Jordan Weisman has been the creative force behind several interactive entertainment companies, including his latest venture, Harebrained-Schemes LLC.  Along the way, he created MechWarrior, Shadowrun, and Crimson Skies, three of the longest running franchises in the game industry.

Weisman got his start in the paper game industry founding FASA Corporation in 1980, where he created BattleTech/MechWarrior and Shadowrun. He pioneered publicly accessible virtual reality at his second company, Virtual World Entertainment, which he sold to the Disney family in 1992.

Jordan founded FASA Interactive to develop his properties for PC and sold the company to Microsoft in 1998. After the acquisition, Jordan became the Creative Director for Microsoft’s Games Division where he oversaw the first two years of all Xbox titles, including the launch of the Halo franchise.

In 2000 Weisman founded Wizkids when he invented the collectible miniature figure game format for MageKnight, MechWarrior and HeroClix. Wizkids grew quickly and was acquired by Topps Inc. in 2003.

After Wizkids, Jordan co-founded 42 Entertainment to build upon the pioneering transmedia experience he created with Steven Spielberg for the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence which spawned the new genre of Alternate Reality Games. As Chief Creative Officer of 42 Entertainment, Jordan oversaw the creation of “I Love Bees” for the launch of Halo 2, “Why So Serious” for The Dark Knight, and “Year Zero” for Nine Inch Nails, along with many other landmark ARGs.

In 2011, Jordan founded Harebrained Schemes and, partnering with Bungie, released the critically-acclaimed and best-selling mobile title, Crimson Steam Pirates. Their second game, Strikefleet Omega was named one of Google Play’s Best Games of 2012 placing Harebrained Schemes firmly on the list of studios to watch.

Last year, Harebrained Schemes made headlines when it launched one of the first seven figure Kickstarter campaigns to fund Shadowrun Returns which brings back one of Jordan’s favorite game worlds, Shadowrun, as an RPG for PC and tablets. The game, which now appears on five “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists is set to release on July 25.

Weisman is a New York Times bestselling fiction author, winner of the Northwest E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award, Time Magazines Ten Best Ideas, and dozens of design awards. He is an adjunct professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and co-founder of the Center for Serious Play at the University of Washington.

Andrew Grant Wilson, Silverstring Media

Andrew Grant Wilson
Silverstring Media

Andrew Grant Wilson is the Director of Game Design at Silverstring Media. Growing up on a diet of philosophy, Jungian psychology and videogames, Andrew learned from an early age how the human mind is capable of fully “inhabiting” abstract or virtual spaces and he seeks to bring virtual worlds the respect and understanding they deserve. Find him at SilverstringMedia.com or on Twitter @StudioWiltron.

Maneesh Yadav, Ph.D.

Maneesh Yadav, Ph.D.

After graduating from The Scripps Research Institute in 2006 with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Dr. Maneesh Yadav spent several years in the financial sector working for Morgan Stanley and then Graham Capital Management. He has since joined SRI International‘s computer science lab where he enjoys exploring a number of research areas, including how game analytics can inform us about IRL human behavior.


Jonathan Waite, Digital Trail

Grand Inquisitor
Jonathan Waite
Digital Trail

The Grand Inquisitor is a pompous term for a simple concept; sometimes a Q&A session will need a bit of a kickstart. This lucky individual has the first question for each speaker, presenter, or panel. Every year the Grand Inquisitor brings his or her own special comic twist to the proceedings to break the ice and foster discussion.

Once upon a time, Jonathan Waite was a quiet, unassuming newlywed in an ancient land, and it was during that time that he stumbled upon a murder victim named Evan Chan.  Twelve years later, after countless campaigns involving poisoned apples, bees, the Dharma Initiative and more, he still calls the Unfiction forums home and still calls mysterious phone numbers hoping for someone cool to be on the other end, opening up yet another alternate reality to have fun in.

Jonathan began his ARG ‘career’ as a parody website owner (and co-owner), a member of the Jadedmedia eXperience development team, an Unfiction forum administrator, the Senior Editor and Owner of ARGN/ARGNet, a co-founder and co-host of the ARG Netcast, an ARGFest-o-Con Project Manager, and a transmedia designer as owner of Digital Trail.  He is a husband, father, uncle, teacher, coach and active participant in many organizations in the Manitoba region.

Michael Andersen, ARGNet

Master of Ceremonies
Michael Andersen

Tying it all together, the Master of Ceremonies is your host for the day. If he is up on the stage, it means some good stuff is about to go down. This year, we’re proud to welcome to this role the Owner and Senior Editor of the premier news site in the transmedia sector.

Over the past six years of writing about alternate reality games, Michael Andersen has done some crazy things in pursuit of a story. Chasing cryptozoological ninja rabbits through the streets, sneaking out of the headquarters of a cult, helping a hapless robot find true love, inadvertently serving as gofer for a gang of thieves, fleeing from zombies, and getting locked in the New York Public Library only begins to scratch the surface.

As owner and senior editor of ARGNet and a frequent guest on the StoryForward podcast, Michael tries to capture the excitement engendered by playing whatever we’re calling this kind of thing these days. He still prefers to call them “alternate reality games,” but is willing to embrace terms like “transmedia” and “pervasive entertainment experience.”

Michael lives in Philadelphia, and has been inserting secret messages into the links shared on ARGNet’s Twitter feed for the past nine months. It feels good to finally confess that.