IGDA Chicago Board of Director Elections – 2011 Candidates

Hi All,

Elections for the IGDA Chicago Board of Directors are about to get underway (December 12th). We have 7 nominees running for 5 seats. We present to you the candidates for the IGDA Chicago BoD below so you can review who it is that has stepped up and is asking for your vote to let them help run IGDA Chicago.

If you are a paid IGDA core member please keep an eye on your inboxes tomorrow for your link to vote.

Stay awesome!


(The following are presented in alphabetical order by last name.)

Christian Arca:

For the past 4 years the one constant in my life has been the game industry. I began at Agora Games in Troy, NY where I worked with amazing people in a small team. As time passed Agora grew and so did the industry. Soon enough I wasn’t just working with the small team at Agora but also much larger teams on AAA titles such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. After Agora I was offered an amazing opportunity at an exciting time in the game industry and ended up here in Chicago as the studio director for Toy Studio – our focus in social and mobile titles. I’m not recounting my experience to convince you to vote for me but rather to give you context to what experiences I might have encountered so you can leave the convincing to yourself.

To put it briefly I think we are still a rather immature industry – I’m not the only one to think so (Mike Capp’s of Epic calls the game industry shockingly immature – http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114594-Epic-Boss-Games-Business-is-Shockingly-Immature). We’re quick to throw each other under the bus and the illusion of secrecy we attempt to maintain between each other is nothing short of comical. Why shouldn’t we share with each other, help each other, give each other “new life”? For the past couple of months I’ve talked with developers at other Chicago game studios. Our meetings have been brief but they were always honest and true. From those few meetings not only have I been inspired but have gained a vast amount of knowledge and perception that has ultimately helped not only myself but others whom I share my new found knowledge with and ultimately, everyone at Toy Studio.

Being a close community is a broad concept. What could come of it? The answer is anything. By connecting with each other, using each other as collaborative resources we can work to improve our own studios, titles, quality of life, geographical incentives, and ultimately our industry. My goal for the IGDA of Chicago is to connect our community so that we may benefit from each other. Once we are a connected community, I want to listen. As Ernest Hemingway said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” I do hope I receive the opportunity to listen from each and every one of you.

Heather M Decker-Davis:

We all share a passion for game development, so uniting as a community makes perfect sense. Together, we’re able to do so much more to support the growth and influence of Chicago game development, as well as provide opportunities for enrichment to our local developers.

There are many facets of game development in Chicago and our local chapter would benefit from leadership with the dedication to listen closely and seek feedback in the interest of most effectively responding to the needs of our diverse community.

Over this past year, collaborating with my fellow organizers to revitalize the chapter has been an absolute pleasure and I’d very much appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve you as a board member of the IGDA Chicago chapter. Thank you so much for your consideration!

Please be sure to read up on all of our candidates and vote so you can help shape your chapter leadership!

Heather M Decker-Davis is a regular writer for #AltDevBlogADay, adjunct faculty at Clinton Community College, and MFA candidate at Savannah College of Art and Design. She is proud to have been chosen as an IGDA Scholar in 2011 and continues to strive to contribute to the development community and education.

Volunteer Credits:

  • One of the organizers behind the 2011 reboot of the IGDA Chicago chapter

  • IGDA Perspectives: layout for the events section of the print newsletter and curating the events listing for the online edition

  • Co-chair of the Education Track for the 2011 AltDev Conference (#AltDevConf)

  • Graphic Arts Technology Program Advisory Committee Member for Clinton Community College

Jason Hrynko:

My personal philosophy, priorities, and goals are taking the new generation of game developers forward by carrying on the rich tradition of the Chicago game development community while upholding the core values established by the IGDA. This will be done by further establishing IGDA Chicago through connecting with local colleges and the unsung developers of the community at large.  Also, hopefully, getting regular postmortem presentations out of already established studios.  I’d like to convince AcTiVision Blizzard, Microsoft Studios, EA (yes again) or Ubisoft, Nintendo, or Sony to open up a AAA development studio downtown. In addition to or as another option I’d like to also be the catalyst for opening on my own AAA development and entertainment studio as well.

The key here is being able to showcase that while the Chicago game development scene is small (29 studios by my count only 6 of which are AAA and one of those 6 is all the way down in Urbana-Champaign) there’s enormous potential for the world class city. Just think of the legacy from Bally’s Midway to Chicago Coin and Bungie. Also the birthplace of Freeway from legendary designer David Crane to Eugene Jarvis and Ed Boon who call Chicago home and head up their own studios. For that matter maybe even getting Alex Seropian to, “come home” from Disney would be incredible to head up another AAA studio.

I believe the IGDA Chicago is poised to show the world that like California, Washington state, and Texas; Illinois to is great place to define the future of entertainment.

Personally, I started as a tester almost five years ago with AcTiVision on Spider-Man 3. After the hard work of two failed attempts at going independent my passion burns more then ever to hit my stride in this business. I am in a unique position to be the one to represent, “The Player” on the Board of Directors. I’ve been playing since 1985 with my Father’s Intellivision. However with the introduction on the Nintendo Entertainment System the Big N took hold and still holds a special place in my heart to this day. I am a new spirit with an old soul. I would be honored to have the privilege in serving the IGDA Chicago in the years to come by making the Chicago game development community more accessible and attractive currently and for the generations to come. Thank You!

Jay Margalus:

Since writing about yourself is awkward, I’m going to tell you why Jay should be on the board for the Chicago IGDA.

Jay is one of the most sincere and talented people I’ve ever met. His enthusiasm is infectious and he inspires me to believe that we can achieve greater things in our community. He’s always willing to put in the time that no one else seems to have. His efforts have helped to unify our community though organizing and supporting events across the multiple developer groups here in Chicago. He is already involved in creating a community that makes people proud to be in Chicago.

He makes games and he cares about games. I think that’s really important too.

I’m Ryan Wiemeyer and if Jay Margalus doesn’t make it on the board of the Chicago IGDA, we’re doing it wrong.

About Me (Jay):
I co-own, develop at, and do marketing/business development for a Chicago independent games studio called Lunar Giant.  I also own a web development studio, co-founded Chicago’s first suburban hackerspace Workshop 88, and have enjoyed being part of the IGDA Chicago reboot from the beginning, along with Neal Sales-Griffin and Heather Decker-Davis.

Sheri Rubin:

Nurturing a vibrant developer community can directly benefit each of us. It’s vital to have a strong network of peers to rely on, especially during these tough economic times. That is why it’s in our best interest to bring together our collective knowledge and experience to help make game development a better place for all of us. In Chicago, we have a lot of history and influence to the medium, and I want to see our Chapter become even more influential once again. I want to help make game development a better atmosphere for everyone involved and would very much appreciate the opportunity to do so as a board member of the Chicago Chapter of the IGDA. With dedicated leadership, I strongly believe that we can grow this Chapter into something we can be immensely proud of. Thank you so much for your consideration.

Sheri Rubin is founder and CEO of Design Direct Deliver, a company that strives to improve the customer experience and provides independent contract and consulting services to businesses primarily within the video game industry. She got her start in the industry over a decade ago, has been an active part of the IGDA since 1999 (and is a lifetime member), and has appeared on G4TV twice. Though she has more than thirty game credits under her belt, Sheri’s proudest moment came from showing her father her name on the Golden Tee machine in a Chicago pizzeria. www.designdirectdeliver.com.

Sheri’s volunteer contributions:

  • Former Executive Board Member/Current Organizer, Chicago Chapter

  • Former IGDA Orange County Chapter Board of Directors (moved to Chicago)

  • Member, Chapter Committee

  • Chair, Quality Assurance SIG

  • Advisory Board Member, Women in Games SIG

  • Member, SIGs Committee

  • Founder and Former Leadership Council Member, Sexuality In Games SIG

  • Participant in over twenty other SIGs

  • Member, Marketing and Communications Committee

  • Member, Voter Guidance Task Force

  • Volunteer, Global Game Jam Team

Neal Sales-Griffin:

I’m Neal, I believe video games will be the future of our education system.

One day I got tired of being merely a consumer of video games and other technology and wanted to get involved in developing software myself. In my journey to learn I ended up discovering I wasn’t the only one that had that problem, so I started a school called Code Academy to help solve it for myself and others. My goal is to take an entrepreneurial approach to software development by building web applications that are designed as games.

In the past I’ve helped start some companies, and I’ve worked at a couple venture capital investment firms where I did research on the video-gaming industry and analyzed technology and for-profit education start-ups. I convinced one of those companies to send me to the GDC last year and after getting to know the awesome guys at Tap.me as well as connecting with Josh Tsui of Robomodo, I wanted to find ways to help galvanize the Chicago game development community.

I crashed an IGDA member meeting with the Board of Directors last year in San Francisco, and asked them why there wasn’t much activity in Chicago. They said they didn’t know but wanted to talk further. So I followed up and discovered that things had been dormant for quite some time! Instead of sitting back and complaining or dissing the chapter’s inactivity, I decided to take matters into my own hands by getting involved. In doing so I helped re-establish the IGDA Chicago Chapter last summer with the help of Tom Dowd, Sheri Rubin, and Josh Tsui.

It was a tough road at first, no one really knew who I was (or cared much about IGDA/ Chicago for that matter), but I persisted and kept trying to make connections in order to seize an opportunity to start helping Chicago become a vibrant community again. In doing so I met Jay Margalus and Heather Decker-Davis, two amazingly committed people. I would love to continue serving the Chicago community through the events, workshops, game jams, and parties that we have been successfully planning and implementing over the past year.

Simply put, all I really want is to keep working with these awesome people. would you kindly vote for me to continue doing so?

Jared Steffes:


My name is Jared Steffes and I currently work as a co-founder of Tap.Me. Tap.Me started as a mobile game studio and just about a year ago became a venture capital backed mobile in-game advertising start-up based downtown Chicago.

I attended DePaul University’s College of Commerce and helped create DePaul’s Video Game Degree program while being the first president and co-founder of DeFrag, which continues to be DePaul’s largest student organization.

Video game work experiences include work for EA Chicago, training video games for Rush University and the Department of Defense, game proposals, Technology Consulting, and Video Game Consulting.

My Goals for IGDA Chicago:
The video game industry has changed and has not stopped mutating. Mobile and social platforms have created a serious outlet for creativity and spawned thousands of new game development studios. Big studios are now developing for these new platforms because console gaming is no longer the only viable platform to support a studio. The rise of “freemium” games and hobbyist freely giving away fun content has created new difficulties for studios.

Right now is the best opportunity for anyone to get into game development and the goals I have in mind are pretty straightforward to support game development of all shapes and sizes. I want to make sure people have the best resources and knowledge to succeed in today’s climate whether you are an Indie or AAA studio.

My Philosophy:
Communication and a sense of community are a large factor to creating a healthy advantage for the Chicago area. It is difficult to share information and consistently get together in person because our geographical area is so large, but the technology is available to make a studio in Champaign capable of sharing professional knowledge with a studio in Chicago in a secure and digital format.

Professionals need to have access to professional type events, Indies to Indies, students to students, and there needs to be mixed level events to create community and growth. People willing to share their experience need to be able to feel comfortable sharing with their peers.

When someone moves to Chicago and searches the Internet for video game industry in Chicago, I want to make sure they have a powerful resource and comfort because of IGDA Chicago. Let’s share our triumphs because making games is a passion. We are all rock stars!