Faculty

Director

Edward Melcer

Eddie is an independent game developer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Computational Media and Games and Playable Media program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. His primary teaching and research interests are at the intersection of games, human-computer interaction, and learning science where he explores the usage of alternative controllers, novel interfaces. and physical gameplay mechanics to enhance learning outcomes in educational games. He also does research in the area of game studies, conducting large-scale meta-analyses to better understand overall trends within game research and industry. Eddie’s serious games have won awards in venues such as the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge and Games for Learning Design Competition, and his independent games have been featured in a number of venues such as IndieCade, IndieCade East, and Come Out & Play.

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Postdoctoral Fellows

Katelyn Grasse

Katy is a clinical research engineer and an aspiring game developer who joined the ALT Games Lab in 2019. She earned a B.S. in Applied Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her primary research interest is to develop and test engaging closed-loop technologies that measure and enhance brain functions. Her previous R&D experience includes human and animal projects focused on neural interfaces and rehabilitation automation. In addition to building things, Katy enjoys dabbling in the visual arts, reading science fiction, hiking, learning about random stuff on The Internet and playing most any kind of video game, so long as it’s awesome.

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PhD Students

Oleksandra “Saya” Keehl

Saya was born and raised in Mariupol, Ukraine, and moved to the US in 2001. Her tech career so far consists of two years of undergraduate courses from Cogswell college followed by 2.5 years as a UI software engineer at TiVo. In order to fulfill her dual nature of an artist and an engineer, she chose to pursue her graduate degree at UCSC, which is known for its interdisciplinary projects. Saya is currently enrolled in the UCSC Computational Media PhD program. Her two areas of research are Artificial Intelligence and its application in video games; and using scientific methods to develop effective educational games for learning kanji (this interest harkens back to Saya’s BA in Japanese language and her personal struggles with kanji). Saya was an AI Research intern at the Electronic Arts in the summer 2018. She has also secured an AI Research internship at Unity Technologies for the summer of 2019. She hopes to graduate within 2-3 years.

 


MS Students and Research Assistants

John Dominic Sanchez Diez

John is a first-year M.S. student in the Department of Computational Media program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his B.S. in Social Psychology with a minor in Mathematics with Honors at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are focused on using intersections between the fields of social sciences, engineering, and the Arts/Humanities to answer questions about gaming and the communities created by it. His primary research goals are to develop a better understanding of Social Communities and interactions within Twitch Live Streaming and online forums, helping improve the efficacy of educational games, and exploring the research connections of RPG Tabletop Games. Currently, he is working on developing a tech literacy program for children, and collaborating with a peer on developing a new RPG system. John’s past research work in undergrad has been in moral development, learning through online media, conformity online, and gamer aggression. John’s hobbies involve playing clarinet, singing, tabletop games, D&D, competitive video games, RPG games, and sleeping.

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Marjorie Ann Cuerdo

Marjorie earned her M.S. Human-Computer Interaction from DePaul University and B.A. in Digital Media Studies with a Computer Science minor from University of Rochester. Always valuing interdisciplinary work, she’s interested in player motivation and (embodied) experience, games user research, XR, and social-emotional learning. She’s currently studying how in-game death and rebirth components affect aspects of PX, such as enjoyment and engagement. In her spare time, Marjorie hunts for game achievements, watches the NBA, and edits her Spotify playlists. She proudly grew up in the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Yulin Cai

People - Yulin

Yulin is a grad student of the Serious Games program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She joined the ALT Games Lab in 2019. She received her B.S. in Architecture from Xiamen University in China and worked as an architect before she came to UCSC. She has a passion for user experience design as well as illustration. Currently, she is working on a surgical training game project in collaboration with Stanford School of Medicine. She is the UX/UI designer and environment artist in the team.

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Janelynn Camingue 

Janelynn currently pursuing her M.S Games and Playable Media at the University of California-Santa Cruz.  She earned her B.S in Computer Science: Computer Game Design from University of California-Santa Cruz, where she also worked on It’s Alive. She has interned two summers at 21st Century Fox, and helped create an AR experience for the company. She joined the ALT Games lab in 2019 and with focus on visual novels. Janelynn has published a taxonomy of educational visual novels, in the Foundations of Digital Games conference 2020. She plans to revolutionize educational games and visual novels as a research scientist in games. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her dog Cutiepie, and read visual novels.

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Undergraduate Research Assistants

Vivian Pham

Vivian is currently a third year student pursuing a degree in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests lie in the design elements, player immersion, and imaginative impact of interactive media types. At the moment, she is collecting and analyzing data in relation to the design themes and development of games featured in various major independent game festivals and showcases. Vivian’s skills lie in illustration, concept art, and graphic design. In her own time, she loves zine freelancing, fashion thrifting, dancing, and role playing video games.

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Alumni

Ayesha Khalid

Ayesha is a graduate of the Professional Masters in Serious Games program at the University of California Santa Cruz. She received an earlier Masters degree in Multimedia Arts from National College of Arts and Bachelors in Computer Arts from Fatima Jinnah Women University in Pakistan. She is interested in games which help young children learn and in finding innovative ways to make games appealing to kids. She also likes to draw, illustrate and make animations in her spare time.

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