To play and to tell stories are two of the most human things a person can do. Games are a perfect marriage of the two.
The stories we tell are important: they reflect our interests and values; they document our experiences; they educate and entertain. Of the many media through which we tell stories, games are very important to me. Both video games and board games have had significant impacts on my life and I believe that both can be incredibly important tools for education and community building. My goal is to work within my communities to establish storytelling and play as vital acts; to demonstrate how we can tell our stories and our histories with games; and to develop educational gaming programs in our libraries.
This website houses gaming-focused articles on topics related to educational gaming, community building, and the adventures of my own gaming experiences, as well as my adventures at the library (storytime and program plans). I have an ongoing series, DIY Crafty Gamer, that features interviews with creative gamers who make things to enhance their gameplay (miniatures painting, terrain building, custom component upgrades, dice towers, etc.).
I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media. My concentration was in Digital Media, with projects specifically focused on game studies, and I also completed minors in Photography and Marketing. The most influential courses I took at Loyola were Game Studies, Critical Ethnography, R/Evolution of Communication Technology, Observing and Measuring Communication Behavior, and Photography. These courses established the importance of storytelling, play, research, and communication for and within our communities. During my last year at Loyola, I was a Research Assistant at the Social & Interactive Media Lab (SIMLab) in Loyola’s School of Communication. My research focused on issues of gender, inclusivity, and accessibility in games and within gaming communities.
I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign‘s online Leep program with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (MSLIS). My career goals include developing educational gaming programs for libraries. I am a Children’s Services Librarian at a library in the Chicago suburbs.
As of 2019, I am serving on the executive board for the Games & Gaming Round Table (GameRT) of the American Library Association (ALA). GameRT plans awesome gaming initiatives like International Games Week (see if your local public, academic, or school library participates!) and ALA Play (part of ALA’s annual conference).
I run a gaming group, RNG Gaming, with my husband, Greg (see our game-themed wedding here). We meet a couple times a month to play tabletop games (see our home gaming spaces). Our campaign contingent has played Pandemic Legacy: Season One, part of Pandemic Legacy: Season Two, Gloomhaven, and Thunderstone Quest. Our RPG contingent meets twice a month to play Dungeons & Dragons and Invisible Sun (and we are also looking forward to Humblewood!). The whole group gets together at least one Saturday a month to play anything from our game library. Greg and I also play two-player games, including various campaigns such as Folklore: The Affliction, 7th Continent, TIME Stories, Charterstone, Sword & Sorcery, and Stuffed Fables.
I co-host Playability, an interview-based podcast at the crossroads of gameplay and accessibility. Our goal is to get the gaming community talking and thinking more about accessibility in games, so we talk with designers, artists, developers, and gamers about how they’ve addressed accessibility in games. When we discuss accessibility, we mean anything to do with physical, visual, cognitive, emotional, and social (inclusivity, etc.) accessibility. Episodes run 15-20 minutes — something people can listen to during a commute, a lunch break, a walk, etc. Full transcripts are posted with each episode.
I am a moderator for the World of Women Network (WoW). WoW is an international community of gamers. We have a Discord server just for women-identifying and non-binary folks. We also have a Facebook group for anyone who believes that gaming is for everyone – men are welcome to join and support us here. Gaming brought us all together, but you’ll find channels for all sorts of hobbies on the Discord server. We value our community and building supportive relationships. You can read my blog post about WoW here.
Greg and I have five cats who keep us entertained on a daily basis. When we started dating, we each had two cats. The Panthers, Franklin and Charlotte, came with Rebecca. The Tigers, Aurora and Nox (littermates), came with Greg. We adopted a little Lion, Bacchus, after moving from our cramped townhouse to our house in Naperville. We turned the sunroom in our house into a cat playroom. The cats love the towers and tunnels and toys, oh my! They love watching birds and squirrels in the yard. There are lots of kitty photos on Bacchus’ Instagram.
Franklin was born around April 6, 2012. Rebecca adopted Franklin from Orphans of the Storm, a wonderful pet shelter in Deerfield, IL. Franklin is a lover, not a fighter. He loves to be curled up on someone’s lap, especially if he can snuggle under a blanket. He’s a pretty chill fella. He loves chasing The Red Dot, but doesn’t care much for cat treats.
Charlotte was born around April 27, 2012. She was born at Rebecca’s father’s farm. Charlotte is the Alpha of the group and she doesn’t let anyone forget it. She is the most talkative cat on the face of the Earth (she doesn’t let you forget that, either). Charlotte is a people greeter – she is usually the first to say hello to guests (because she loves the attention and pets) and she likes to hang around people during game days at the house. She loves kicker toys, won’t deign to use the treat dispenser toy, and likes to watch other cats chase The Red Dot.
Aurora is Nox’s littermate. They were born around October 2014. Greg adopted them in March 2015. Aurora loves to spend the day taking long naps on our bed. Her favorite toys have feathers on them, but she also likes cat ball toys that have things inside to make noise. One of her favorite things to do is lure a human to her by rolling around on the floor and meowing, then running away as soon as the human reaches out to pet her. She is a lap cat and loves to get pets on the couch – if you aren’t petting her, she will let you know by meowing and headbutting your hand.
Nox is Aurora’s littermate. They were born around October 2014. Greg adopted them in March 2015. Nox is a FOOD SHARK. If a food wrapper crinkles anywhere in the house, she will hear it. If someone steps food into the kitchen, she is shortly at their feet. If you walk near the drawer with cat treats, she will trip you until you give her treats. When Nox wants treats, she will yowl until all the other cats have joined her in her protest for more treats. She loves laser pointers and milk rings. She is clumsy. She likes puzzles. She is our hunter, being the only cat to have caught mice in the house. She is uber smart.
Bacchus was born around March 27, 2017. He was adopted from a family friend’s farm because, at the time, he was a tiny little runt and suffered a really bad cold and it seemed he wasn’t going to survive farm life. Fast forward to now and he’s a healthy kitty – you’d never guess he was the runt of his litter! He loves carrying toys around the house, putting toys in his water bowl, and opening cabinet doors. He is feisty when he plays and a lover when he cuddles. He enjoys getting baths from his older siblings.