People

Faculty Committee

William Uricchio

Professor of Comparative Media Studies (on leave for the 2013 academic year)

William Uricchio is Professor and Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program and Professor of Comparative Media History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He has held visiting professorships at Stockholm University, the Freie Universität Berlin, and Philips Universität Marburg; and Guggenheim, Fulbright and Humboldt fellowships have supported his research.

Uricchio considers the interplay of media technologies and cultural practices, and their role in (re-) constructing representation, knowledge and publics. In part, he researches and develops new histories of 'old' media (early photography, telephony, film, broadcasting, and new media) when they were new. And in part, he investigates the interactions of media cultures and their audiences through research into such areas as peer-to-peer communities and cultural citizenship, media and cultural identity, and historical representation in computer games and reenactments.

Uricchio's most recent books include Media Cultures (2006 Heidelberg), on responses to media in post 9/11 Germany and the US, and We Europeans? Media, New Collectivities and Europe (2009, Chicago). He is currently completing a manuscript on the concept of the televisual from the 17th century to the present.

T.L. Taylor

Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies

T.L. Taylor is a qualitative sociologist working in the field of internet and game studies. Her work focuses on the interrelation between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments. She has spoken and written on topics such as network play and social life, values in design, intellectual property, co-creative practices, avatars, and gender & gaming. Her most recent research explores the professionalization of computer game play, examining the developing scene of high-end competitive play, spectatorship, and the growing institutionalization of e-sports.

Her book Raising the Stakes:E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) chronicles the rise of e-sports and professional computer gaming. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer online games. Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method, her co-authored book on doing ethnographic research in online multi-user worlds, was recently published by Princeton University Press.

She is currently teaching CMS.616, Games and Culture, in Spring 2014.

More information about her work can be found at her website.

Courses: CMS.616 Games and Culture (Spring 2014)

Staff

Philip Tan

Creative Director

Philip Tan is the creative director for the MIT Game Lab. He teaches CMS.608 Game Design and CMS.611J/6.073J Creating Video Games at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the past 6 years, he was the executive director for the US operations of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a game research initiative.

He has served as a member of the steering committee of the Singapore chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and worked closely with Singapore game developers to launch industry-wide initiatives and administer content development grants as an assistant manager in the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore. Before 2005, he produced and designed PC online games at The Education Arcade, a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that studied and created educational games. He complements a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies with work in Boston's School of Museum of Fine Arts, the MIT Media Lab, WMBR 88.1FM and the MIT Assassins' Guild, the latter awarding him the title of "Master Assassin" for his live-action roleplaying game designs. He also founded a DJ crew at MIT.

Specialties: digital, live-action and tabletop game design, production and management

Games: A Slower Speed of Light (2012)

Courses: CMS.611/6.073J Creating Videogames (Fall 2012)


Rik Eberhardt

Studio Manager

As Studio Manager for the MIT Game Lab, Rik Eberhardt spends his days playing Tetris: with people, boxes, tasklists, equipment, money, and time. When not staring at a spreadsheet trying to fit in another computer purchase, a last minute event budget, or placing undergraduate researchers on a Game Lab project, he's chipping away at spreadsheets on his DS, reproducing pixel-art in Picross and Picross 3D, or managing the ultimate spreadsheet, a game of Sid Meier's Civilization. He is also an instructor for two MIT Game Lab classes on game production and has served as a mentor and director for multiple game development projects including elude, a game about depression produced in the summer of 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, is a Certified Scrum Master, a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, and is currently working towards a Serious Games MA Certificate from Michigan State University.

Specialties: production, management, postpunk, cats

Games: Abandon (2009), PAX POX (2010), elude (2010), Stranded in Singapore (2011), Fugue (2012), The Last Symphony (2012)

Courses: CMS.608 Game Design, CMS.611/6.073J Creating Videogames (Fall 2012)


Sara Verrilli

Development Director

Sara Verrilli has spent her professional career in the videogame industry, starting with the day she walked out of MIT's Course V graduate studies and into a position as QA Lead at Looking Glass Technologies for System Shock. However, her game organizing endeavors started much earlier; she helped found a role-playing club at her high school by disguising it as a bridge group.

Since then, she's been a game designer, a product manager, a producer, and a QA manager, in no particular order. A veteran of both Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games, she's worked on eight major published games, and several more that never made it out the door. As Development Director of the MIT Game Lab, she looks forward to corralling, encouraging, and exploring the creative chaos that goes into making great games, and figuring out just the right amount of order to inject into the process. And, while she still doesn't understand bridge, she does enjoy whist.

Games: Waker (2009), Woosh (2009), Seer (2010), Yet One Word (2010), Eksa: Isle of the Wisekind (2011), Movers & Shakers (2012)

Courses: CMS.611/6.073J Creating Videogames (Fall 2012)


Andrew Whitacre

Communications Director, MIT Comparative Media Studies

Andrew conducts the communications efforts for CMS (websites, press relations, and project and event publicity) as well as those for MIT's Center for Civic Media and the MIT Game Lab.

A native of Washington, D.C., he holds a degree in communication from Wake Forest University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College. His marketing and P.R. skills were honed at Houghton Mifflin and Tufts University. He was also the long-time fiction editor for Identity Theory and followed up with a literary tool website, called Readsfeed.

Researchers

Mikael Jakobsson

Research Scientist

Mikael Jakobsson conducts research on the border between game design and game culture. With a foundation in interaction design, he investigates how gaming activities fit into social and cultural practices, and how this knowledge can be integrated into the development process. His work has been supported by research grants involving collaboration with several game companies. He has developed and taught courses on game design, game criticism, and interaction design, as well as supervised students at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level. During his stay at MIT, he will serve as Project Manager for the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory.

Courses: CMS.300 Introduction to Videogame Theory and Analysis (Spring 2013)

Lecturers

Andrew Grant

Technical Director, Lecturer

Thanks to two wonderfully dedicated game-playing grandmothers, Andrew Grant started playing games before he could hold the cards. From there, he went on to explore board games, strategy games, role-playing games, and computer games. This exploration shows no signs of slowing down.

Andrew graduated from MIT in 1993 with Bachelor's degrees in both Computer Science and Mathematics (6 and 18, darnit) and a minor in Creative Writing. After 6 months in the real world, he discovered that someone would actually pay him to design and program computer games, so he returned to his gamer roots by joining Looking Glass Technologies, and then DreamWorks Interactive. Since then, Andrew has survived 10 years as a programmer-for-hire and independent developer in projects ranging from underwater robotics to yet more games.

Specialties: computer programming, computer game development, game design, tabletop role playing games

Games: Dearth (2009), Improviso (2010), Robotany (2011), Bosnobo: Primate Change (2012)

Courses: CMS.611/6.073J Creating Videogames (Fall 2012), 6.UAP Undergrad Advanced Project

Christopher Weaver

Visiting Lecturer

Christopher Weaver received his SM from MIT and was the initial Daltry scholar at Wesleyan University, where he earned dual Masters Degrees in Japanese and Computer Science and a CAS Doctoral Degree in Japanese and Physics. The former Director of Technology Forecasting for ABC and Chief Engineer to the Subcommittee on Communications for the US Congress, he later founded Bethesda Softworks, a leading software entertainment company that is credited with the development of physics-based sports sims and creating the original John Madden Football for Electronic Arts and the well known Elder Scrolls Role Playing series. An adviser to both government and industry, he is a technology columnist for Edge Magazine and holds patents in interactive media and broadband communications dealing with seminal telecommunications engineering.

Courses: CMS.610/922 Media Industries and Systems: The Art, Science and Business of Games


Affiliates

Jason Begy

MIT Affiliate

Jason Begy is a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. His research interests center around modes of reprsentation and meaning-making in games across media, and in this vein he studies simulation, metaphor, and abstraction. He is currently studying board games and video games that simulate various aspects of railroading, with an emphasis on how these games represent historical processes and events. At Concordia he works with the mLab and the Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) Research Centre. He is also a director of the Critical Hit Games Collaboratory, a joint venture between Concordia University and Dawson College.

Konstantin Mitgutsch

MIT Affiliate

Konstantin Mitgutsch is Postdoctoral Researcher at the MIT Game Lab. His research focuses on learning processes in video games, empirical research on players' experience, educational game design, and transformative learning in games. He worked in the fields of learning, media studies, computer games and age rating systems at the University of Vienna for several years. In 2010 he was Max Kade Postdoctoral Fellow at the Education Arcade at CMS. In his recent research project he investigates subversive multi-player serious games and different methodologies of game evaluation.

He studied Media Education and Philosophy of Education at the University of Vienna and the Humboldt University Berlin and earned a MA in Education Science, Sociology, Media Studies and Philosophy (2003) and a Ph.D. in 2009. He is participating as an expert member for the Austrian Federal Office for the Positive Assessment of Computer and Console Games and is on the expert council of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI). Since 2007 he organizes the annual Vienna Games Conference FROG.

Mitgutsch is product owner of the MIT Game Lab games Afterland and Movers & Shaker and coeditor of Applied Playfulness (2012) and Schauplatz Computerspiele (Setting Computergames) (2009).

His blog is at www.kmitgutsch.com.

Specialties: learning, serious games, game design

Games: Afterland (2010), Movers & Shakers (2012)

Course: 21W.768J/CMS.616J/CMS.868 Social and Cultural Facets of Digital Games

Abe Stein

MIT Affiliate

Abe Stein is a research associate at the MIT Game Lab and a graduate student in the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. His work focuses on sports fandom and sports media. He is co-editor of the forthcoming book Sports Videogames (Routledge), and his articles and chapters have appeared in Eludamos, Well Played, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Loading… and James Bond in World and Popular Culture. His current research looks at many aspects of sports videogame culture, ranging from competitive e-sports, to the televisual aesthetics of mainstream sports simulations and independent sports games. He writes a monthly column for Kill Screen magazine called "Boomshakalaka!", exploring topics such as the divide between so-called “geek” and “jock” culture, the surreal aesthetics of classic basketball games, independent sports games, and the problems with mimetic interfaces.

Abe has also worked as a sound designer for television, film and games, and served as audio director for the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. He continues to do freelance sound design and composition, and his work can be heard in Slam Bolt Scrappers, Quandary, A Slower Speed of Light, Assy McGee, This is Nollywood, and World of Zoo.

Specialties: sports, remediation

Games: Pierre: Insanity Inspired (2009), Seer (2010), Yet One Word (2010), A Closed World (2011), Phantomation (2012)