The 2013 Games for Educators Conference

November 23, 9am to 3pm

Navy Pier, Room 329



The Games for Educators Conference is hosted by James Taylor and - the Games for Educators website. It is an inspiring day of workshops for teachers, librarians, scoutmasters, parents... anyone that plays a role in child development.

Tap into your students' cognitive abilities and inject energy into the learning process through applying games as part of their curriculum. Participants will have the opportunity to take some free games to use with your students!

Your admission includes:

  • Lunch
  • Earn up to 6 CPDU credits
  • Great content
  • Networking with like minded educators
  • Game demonstrations
  • Gift bag
  • Free weekend admission for your family to the Chicago Toy & Game Fair ($60 value!)


2013 Conference Sponsors


Conference Host

James Taylor

James Taylor

James Taylor is a game designer, a puzzle designer, and a product strategist through and through. He loves to pull together complex projects. Before moving to Chicago he worked as the lead designer for the mobile game studio Tap, Crackle Pop in San Francisco. He has successfully launched board games, card games, building toys, and learning products. He is currently the Director of Game Changer Chicago at the University of Chicago. 

The Chicago Toy & Game Group thanks the Hive Learning Network for their support of the Games for Educators Conference. 

List of Presenters

Ian Belknap

Ian Belknap - Think, Write, Play, Win!: Incredibly Easy and Flabbergastingly Fun Ways to Teach Critical Thinking, Writing & Speaking


Ian Belknap is a Chicago writer and performer who founded WRITE CLUB (a game to inspire creative writing) in 2010. Since launching in Chicago (monthly at both Hideout and SPACE in Evanston), the show has spread to five other North American cities, with many more on the way.


Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago

Patrick Jagoda - Using Big Games for Citywide Learning

Patrick Jagoda is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago and the co-founder of Ci3's Game Changer Chicago. Jagoda has worked with students on a large number of projects related to digital storytelling, transmedia game design, and new media learning. Along with projects related to the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab, Jagoda has directed a number of transmedia games with learning objectives. These include the Alternate Reality Games Oscillation (2011)→ Speculation (2012)→, The Project (2013)and The Source (2013)

Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald - Using Big Games for Citywide Learning

Peter McDonald is a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago in the department of English Language and Literature and a graduate fellow at the Game Changer Chicago design lab. Peter works on the hermeneutics and interpretation of play across playful postmodern literature, the material culture of toys, and video games.

James Duke, Street Level Youth Media

James Duke - Video Games and Engaging Youth with Media

James Duke teaches Video, Music Video and Digital Photography workshops at Street-Level Youth Media. He is also the adult mentor at Street-Level's youth-founded, youth-driven Anime Club and Game Club. He graduated from Columbia Columbia in 2008 in Film and Video, and is himself an avid Video Game player. He aims to dispel the notion that video games are strictly an extracurricular activity.

Ragnar Anderson, Ci3 Game Changer Chicago

Ragnar Anderson - Evaluating Learning Outcomes

Ragnar Anderson is a research specialist at the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) at the University of Chicago. Her work primarily focuses on evaluating digital games to address the social and behavioral dimensions of adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Previously, she worked as a researcher and fundraiser the Guttmacher Institute in New York City. She received her Masters of Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Ragnar has lived in several cities and is pleased to return to Chicago where she received her undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature. 


Kenyatta Forbes, John Fiske Elementary

Kenyatta Forbes - A Day at the iPad Academy

Kenyatta Forbes, a Technology Coordinator at John Fiske Elementary School, has spent five years in the classroom, the last two championing technology integration. She teaches grades K-8 in the school’s computer lab, and trains teachers to integrate technology into their own classrooms. She often uses iPads as an educational gaming tool at the iPad Academy. 


Riki Allen, Youtopia

Riki Allen - Gamifying Education

Riki Allen is Director of Sales and Core member at Youtopia. She has been integral in implementing and building gamification methods into a variety of education environments. Youtopia is an engagement and classroom management platform that uses game mechanics to engage and motivate students for better results. 


John Murphy of Young Horses, presenting at the Games for Educators Conference during the Chicago Toy & Game Fair

John Murphy - Designing Analog Play at ChicagoQuest

John Murphy is a game designer at ChicagoQuest's Mission Lab, where he designs game-based learning materials and experiences.

Don LaBonte, presenting at the Games for Educators Conference during the Chicago Toy & Game Fair

Don LaBonte - Designing Analog Play at ChicagoQuest

Don LaBonte is a curriculum designer at ChicagoQuest’s Mission Lab.  He helps shape classrooms that empower students to express themselves creatively in relevant contexts.  

Julie Blake, Chicago Toy & Game Group

Julie Blake - Young Inventor Challenge

Born in Cambridge, Ontario, Julie Blake has been a long-time advocate of children’s literacy and has contributed to many non-profit organizations including ABC Literacy Foundation of Canada, The Montréal Children’s Library, 826 Boston, Story Planet and Ministry of Stories.  She is currently working to develop the Young Inventor Challenge, a contest encouraging kids ages 6-18 to invent their own original toy or game.  Blake holds an honours degree in English, and spends her free time writing, traveling, and teaching her dog to do new tricks.