Group Members

Carrie Crossley is an educational game designer and games researcher.
Personal website:


Dr. Joey Fanfarelli is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Texts & Technology at UCF. His research examines effective theoretical and applied design as measured by performance and engagement metrics. Specifically, his research focuses on the design of games and game-based features (i.e., gamification), but also examines experimentation, analyzing how we conduct game-based experiments and proposing better methods for conducting them with more rigor and fewer confounding factors.

Some of Dr. Fanfarelli’s work includes the development of an original educational game to teach brain structure and function (significant learning with a large effect size), and co-developing an algorithm that was calibrated to the human visual system, which compares the visual aspects of interoperating simulators in order to enable an automated system that could detect inconsistencies in a way similar to that of a human observer (~80% accuracy obtained). As a researcher, he has previously worked with NASA, The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and The U.S. Army and Marines, researching robotics, serious games, and simulations. Some of his favorite games are Overwatch, Counter Strike, Galaga, and The Elder Scrolls Series.

Also, Even though Mark thinks he likes Final Fantasy VII more than Dr. Fanfarelli, he is certainly wrong. One should be careful of his words, or Dr. Fanfarelli may reach his limit break and unleash the full fury of Cosmo Memory.


Travis Fort is an undergraduate student researching procedural generation for his Honors in the Major thesis. As a game designer, he uses his research to supplement the design process and develop innovative games. Travis has presented at IndieNomicon, a local game development meetup and convention, and is an active member of the Orlando independent developer scene. While he enjoys almost all games, his favorites are the Mass Effect series and Antichamber.


Dr. Amy Larner Giroux is a Computer Research Specialist with UCF’s Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR). She received her PhD in Texts & Technology in 2014. In her dissertation, “Kaleidoscopic Community History: Theories of Databased Rhetorical History-Making,” she explored database design from a rhetorical/historical perspective.

Amy has 30 years’ experience in software development and project management and in her position with CHDR assists CAH faculty and graduate students with their digitial research projects. For example, she will be working with a history professor to create a Twine/Harlowe game on the effects of living in poverty.

Although Amy does not do much games research, she plays. Her first game console was the original Pong back in the mid-70s. Her console game favorites are Super Smash Brothers (Peach main) and Gauntlet (Valkarie) and her preferred game type is a side-scroller platform with puzzle elements such as Ori and the Blind Forest.

Dr. Emily K. Johnson, a postdoctoral research associate coordinating the Games Research Lab, is a recent graduate of the Texts & Technology Ph.D. program at UCF. Her dissertation, “Making Waves, Mixing Colors, and Using Mirrors: The Self-regulated Learning Support Features and Procedural Rhetoric of Three Whole-Body Educational Games” incorporates research from several fields including game studies, literacy studies, education, embodied learning, and psychology to examine the ways that these types of games teach science content, scaffold self-regulated learning skills, and reinforce specific playing techniques and cultural and pedagogical values. Emily is a former middle school teacher who is passionate about research, technology, learning, and fun. Her research interests include: Educational Technology, Simulations and Learning, Self-Regulated Learning, Gameful Learning, Learning and Motivation, In Situ/Stealth Assessments, Self-Efficacy and Learning, and Oral History. Personal website:


Mark Kretzschmar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Texts and Technology Program at the University of Central Florida. An avid gamer since the age of three, Mark is currently exploring agency (whether actual or perceived) in video games. Although originally a student of medievalism and secondary education, Mark now explores a plethora of research interests in addition to games studies, including professional wrestling, media studies, critical theory, and popular culture. Mark has recently published in the journal Florida Studies and has presented at several academic conferences, including the Popular/American Culture Association. Mark teaches courses for the English department whether through traditional literature or video game studies. Some of Mark’s favorite video game series are Persona, Suikoden, Elder Scrolls, MLB Power Pros, Resident Evil, Stellaris, and Silent Hill. Mark also likes Final Fantasy VII more than Joey.


Dr. Rudy McDaniel is Assistant Dean of Research and Technology and Associate Professor of Digital Media for the School of Visual Arts and Design at UCF.  He founded the Games Research Group in 2011 as a means to bring together faculty and students doing research on video games.  His favorite games include Fallout 3, Mass EffectOblivion, and Dead Space.  Recent game-related publications include “Best practices for the design and development of ethical learning video games” (2013, with Stephen M. Fiore for the International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education) and “Evaluating the relationship between cognitive style and pre-service teachers’ preconceived notions about adopting console video games for use in future classrooms” (2013 with Robert Kenny for the International Journal of Game-Based Learning).  McDaniel is also co-editor of the 2010 Special Issue of Cognitive Technology focused on games for good.  This was co-edited with Erik Vick from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Don professional

Dr. Don Merritt is Director of the Office of Instructional Resources (OIR) at UCF. OIR provides multimedia facility design and installation, lecture capture, telepresence, and institutional-level webcasting and event support for the University. OIR is also home to the UCF Faculty Multimedia Center, a multimedia lab and training area dedicated to faculty needs. Don worked in radio, television, and video production facilities across the southeastern US before coming to UCF. He has also been involved in a number of international theatre projects that used telepresence to combine actors and audiences across North America in real time, as well as contributed to Emmy-nominated productions and internationally-screened documentary work.

Don researches how people with disabilities interact with virtual worlds. The goal is to understand how these environments can be better designed to meet a broader base of users. His current work involves expanding a taxonomy of user-created “mods” and “addons” for popular environments based on creator descriptions of their work.


Eric Murnane is a PhD Candidate at the University of Central Florida in Texts and Technology.  His interests in games lie primarily in their narrative potential both as a product of the the interaction between a person and code and as their stories fit into the larger framework of storytelling as a decidedly human activity.  His work on play in Starcraft II received the Bigman Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Scholarship by the Popular Culture Association.  Eric is presently working on his dissertation which examines player stories as emergent narratives in Skyrim.  He teaches first year composition in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at UCF.


Sara Raffel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Texts and Technology Program at the University of Central Florida. Her dissertation research examines how cognitive psychology—particularly narrative impact theory—can contribute to our understanding of virtual reality stories and their impact on players’ feelings toward physical-world social issues. As part of her dedication to the study of social justice, technology, and community history, Sara also works with the RICHES program at UCF to collect and archive Florida history, and serves as director of oral histories on the GLBT History Museum of Central Florida’s board of directors. She has recently published in journals such as Visual Ethnography and Florida Studies, and has presented her work at a wide array of national and international conferences, including iDMAa, IEEE ProComm, and the Popular/American Culture Association. As a graduate teaching associate in the English department, Sara currently teaches technical communication courses.


Shabnam Sabbagh is a graduate student in Emerging Media (MFA) program in Digital Media track at UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD). She is currently in her last year and working on her MFA thesis to defend and graduate in Summer 2014 semester. She had received her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering specializing in software development. Previously she had spent a year at Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) studying video game design and development in programming track, had spent 2 years as a Research Assistant (GRA)  and game designer on an NSF funded project called MEteor and currently she is working as a Teaching Associate (GTA)  teaching Flash and ActionScript 3.0 to Digital Media undergraduate students while working as an adjunct instructor of Game Production at International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT).  Generally she is interested in Video Games and Interactive Entertainment, new and emerging media, advertising, animation and graphic design, Web design and photography.

Dr. Anastasia Salter is an assistant professor of digital media at the University of Central Florida. She has two books released in 2014: What is Your Quest? From Adventure Games to Interactive Books from the University of Iowa Press and, co-authored with John Murray,Flash: Building the Interactive Web from MIT Press. Her research focuses on positioning games and digital narratives as media artifacts with consequences for learning, social engagement, and participatory culture. She writes for ProfHacker, a blog on technology and pedagogy hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is a member of the THATCamp Council. Dr. Salter holds a Doctorate in Communications Design from the University of Baltimore, a Master of Arts in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, a Master of Fine Arts from Hollins University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Narrative Studies from the University of Maryland.
Download CV here.


Dr. Anne Sullivan is an assistant professor of Digital Media for the School of Visual Arts and Design at UCF. In a previous life, she worked at Electronic Arts, Seattle on the Need for Speed and FIFA franchises. Her research examines the intersection of storytelling through design, crafts, and games. More specifically, she experiments with ways to create crafted, tangible artifacts of player’s stories they create through playing the game. For instance, she is currently working on a game called Loominary that is a Twine game with a loom as an interface, in which players literally weave their own choices into a scarf through play.

Anne’s PhD work was creating an artificial intelligence framework to help support more interactive stories in computer games. She also designed and developed a game using the framework as a proof of concept.

Her favorite games are role-playing games (computer and tabletop), and she’s a huge board game geek, especially if storytelling is involved. T.I.M.E. Stories is her favorite board game ever and she thinks you should play it if you haven’t.


Dr. Peter Smith is currently an assistant Professor in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of Central Florida, with over 10 years of experience working in the field of Serious Games and simulation. In this time he has worked on diverse catalog of gaming projects for the Navy, NSF, ADL, DAU, and many more. Peter received his Ph.D. in Modeling & Simulation from the University of Central Florida in 2012. He has presented internationally on the topic of Serious Games including the 2007 Serious Games Summit opening presentation on the Taxonomy of Serious Games. He is also a founder and previous chair of the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge a competition the highlights the best work in Serious Games held as an integral part of the I/ITSEC Conference for the last 9 years.


Kelvin Thompson is an online, blended learning, and educational technology guy at UCF. He is interested in applying gaming principles to the design of engaging technology-mediated courses. Kelvin is an active speaker nationally, and he is involved in many collaborative and individual projects related to supporting teaching and learning with technology. More information than you want to know is available at

Dr. Natalie Underberg-Goode is Associate Professor of Digital Media and Folklore in the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design (this will change to the Nicholson School of Communication and Media as of July 1, 2018), where she is currently serving as Graduate Program Coordinator for the Digital Media M.A. degree. Underberg-Goode is also director of the UCF Digital Ethnography Lab, as well as core faculty in the Texts & Technology Ph.D. program.  Her research examines the use of digital media to preserve and disseminate folklore and cultural heritage, with a focus on digital storytelling and participatory new media design and practice.  She is author (with Elayne Zorn) of the book Digital Ethnography: Anthropology, Narrative, and New Media (University of Texas Press, 2013), editor of a special issue of the international journal Visual Ethnography  on Exploring Digital Ethnography through Embodied Perspective, Role-Playing and Community Participation and Design , as well as more than 25 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings. She has been PI or co-PI on research and teaching grants and fellowships totaling over $200,000. These include two Florida Humanities Council, two Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs grants, The Strong Research Fellowship, and flow-through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her research has been presented at 25 national and international conferences, including the Bilan du Film Ethnographique seminar in Paris, France and the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA).  In addition to research, Dr. Underberg-Goode has developed core courses for the Digital Media and Latin American Studies programs and electives for the Film and Texts and Technology programs at UCF.  She has taught or teaches courses in a variety of areas including digital and interactive storytelling, research methods, video game history, and Latin American popular culture.  She has served her profession through such activities as co-organizing four international and three regional conferences, serving on the Department of State Bureau of Historic Preservation Florida Folklife Council, being digital stories and electronic literature curator for Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, and book reviews co-editor (for U.S. and Canada) for Visual Anthropology Review.
Download CV here

Kelly Van de Geer has a B.A. in Digital Media from the University of Central Florida. She is a web developer, UI/UX designer, 2D graphic artist, and photographer. She is passionate about working in areas which utilize both technology and design.


Dr. Stephanie Vie’s overall research agenda centers on the construction of digital identities in social media spaces. Her research in games studies includes analyses of privacy policies and terms of service documents in social networking and mobile app games. Her book chapter, “‘You Are How You Play’: Privacy Policies and Data Mining in Social Networking Games” will be published in Ashgate’s Playing the Field (edited by Jennifer deWinter and Ryan Moeller).  She has also published on pedagogical applications of games in the composition classroom (“Tech Writing, Meet Tomb Raider: Using Video Games to Teach Usability and Revision” in e-Learning) as well as virtual worlds (“Are We Truly Worlds Apart? Building Bridges between Second Life and Secondary Education” in Computers and Composition Online and “Press Enter to ‘Say’: Using Second Life to Teach Critical Media Literacy” in Computers and Composition, co-authored with Jennifer deWinter).  Her favorite games are the Silent Hill series, Parasite Eve and Parasite Eve II, Katamari Damacy, and old-school Nintendo games like The Legend of Zelda.

Nicholas Ware is an ABD PhD student in Texts & Technology. He received a B.A. in English Literature and Media Production from Florida State University (’03) and an MA in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University (’10). His main academic interests are game studies, Japanese popular folk culture, and dystopian and postapocalyptic narratives. He has presented at the National Popular Culture Association Conference and the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts and will be published in an upcoming edited volume, Rated M for Mature.

Shelly Welch has a BA in Studio Art emphasizing in Graphic Design from the University of Northern Iowa and is currently a MFA Provost’s Graduate Fellowship recipient in the School of Visual Arts & Design MFA Emerging Media program. Presently, Shelly specializes in research concerning user experience (UX) for everything from usability in mobile applications to user perceptions and informal learning in gameplay but her primary focus is creating quality user experiences and user-centered designs for digital technologies.