2017 PixelPop Speakers

PixelPop Festival 2017 features two full days of speaker presentations, panel discussions, and Let’s Play demonstrations. Our speakers include industry professionals across a variety of disciplines from around the country, plus educators, content creators, and more.

Rebekah Saltsman - PixelPop Festival 2017 Keynote Speaker

Rebekah Saltsman

Finji Founder & CEO

We are very excited to welcome Rebekah Saltsman as our Keynote Speaker!

Rebekah is the founder and CEO of Finji, mom-and-pop indie game label based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rebekah manages the console and storefront relationships for all of Finji’s internal and partner publishing projects along with guiding all teams through the long years of development via design, production and publishing. Since 2014, Finji has published award-winning indie games including Feist, Panoramical, and Night in the Woods, and are currently hard at work on Overland (2018).



Lead Community Manager at Twitch / Content Creator

Erin “Aureylian” Wayne started her career in gaming as a personality/content creator in 2012. While she currently works full time as the Lead Community Manager at Twitch, you can continue to find her on many platforms, from the Disney Channel to Verizon’s Go90 to Twitch. Many people’s favorite girl minecrafter and Sims player, Erin is a multifaceted, successful gamer and streamer, working towards educating other content creators as the Secretary of the Internet Creator’s Guild, increasing inclusion via work with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the Love Has No Labels campaign, and supporting children’s charities like Extra Life.

Adam Coster
Adam Coster, PhD, is one of the three founding brothers of Butterscotch Shenanigans, where he is a general solver-of-problems and tool developer. Adam spends most of his time programming, usually building web infrastructure to automate and expand the capabilities of the studio. When he isn’t programming, Adam is probably using some random mishmash of science, statistics, philosophy, and psychology to help guide the studio’s business and game development decisions.
Alessio Summerfield
Alessio is an independent filmmaker, co-creator of Dev Diary, and one-half of St. Louis-based directing / producing duo, Forever an Astronaut.

Some things that he likes to tell people when he feels like he has to defend his professional life are that he’s spent 5 months on the road with MTV, he’s worked with Adult Swim on their Carnival Tour, he (with his band) opened for musician Dan Deacon, and he once traveled to Dubai for a week to film an extremely lavish wedding reception – “it was nuts and lasted nearly 16 hours”.

If he were to die at the time of writing, he’d be survived by his beautifully intelligent and intelligently beautiful wife, Kristen, his three cats (Rosemary, Francois, and Pia in chronological order), and his super cute Shiba Inu, Jerry.

Ben Cook
Ben is the lead designer / developer / artist of Well Bred Rhino, an indie game studio based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Well Bred Rhino has just released its second title, Last Stitch Goodnight, available now on Steam and PS4. LSG is a metaphysical metroidvania that explores existence and science gone wrong. Ben strongly believes that games are our generation’s myths and fables, and he is a strong advocate for personal indie game projects to help share more human experiences.
Christopher Badell
Christopher Badell is the designer and co-creator of the hit cooperative card game Sentinels of the Multiverse, the writer of all things Sentinel Comics, and the co-owner of Greater Than Games. His storytelling game creation style and attention to both thematics and mechanics has made a mark on the tabletop gaming industry. Even with a variety of games in production, his first love is co-op games, to the point that he views the gaming industry as one big cooperative game!
Derek W. Dadian-Smith
Derek is one of those people who kind of forgets what it is they do until they start writing a bio, and then they get really confused. He has a background in video production, conceptual media art, interaction design, web development, making noise, and smooshing things together, which is probably how he ended up interested in game design. Oh yeah, he is Assistant Professor and Chair of Interactive Media at Lindenwood University-Belleville, and has an MFA in Media Art from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Jacob Van Ende
Jake is a game developer in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where he (mostly) uses a laser to design and manufacture unique, original board games from scratch.
James Reichmuth
One half of St. Louis based directing/producing duo Forever an Astronaut, James is an independent filmmaker as well as a co-creator of Dev Diary.

If you asked him about his life as a creative, he’d let you know that he’s traveled with NBC, worked for a number of years at St Lou Fringe leading their Artist Services department, and has had the supreme pleasure of directing a number of theatrical productions in the St. Louis area.

James wants it to be known that he’ll do impressions upon request, although he does not claim to have any good ones. He thinks you’re a really cool person for being here right now – and would love to say hello to you after the film.

Jasmine Moore
Jasmine is a native artist from St. Louis, MO. She is currently working with Bravenday and the company’s upcoming game, Super Bobbert and the Infinity Tree. She is currently doing the illustration, graphic design, and programing for this upcoming game.
Jeffrey Spenner
Jeffrey is a professional musician and board game fanatic currently based in Missouri. As a conductor and trumpeter, he has performed across three continents, but sadly only gamed on one (so far). He is also a new contributor to thegameblob.com. Some of his favorite games include Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Viticulture, and The Gallerist. He recently bought Twilight Imperium 3 and is looking for people to play with, so…

Spenner lives and games with his wife and five cats: Voltaire, Gershwin, Brahms, Rousseau, and Apollo. Their favorite games are the ones with shiny pieces to steal.

Jillian Stiles
Jillian Stiles is an artist at Graphite Lab. She has an affinity for small, round animals, video games, comics, and film. When not being involved in the former, she can be found rambling away on Twitter or sketching strangers in coffee shops.
Jonathan Leek
Entrepreneur, pizza guru, game and lego enthusiast.
Katherin Brennan
Katherine Brennan is a software developer at Monsanto, and the current treasurer of the St. Louis Game Dev Co-op. She has always had a love for games, and became more involved with game development as a hobby after attending her first global game jam while attending Webster University.
Kirk Damman
Kirk A. Damman practices in all areas of intellectual property law, with an emphasis on helping startup and growing companies begin to manage, license, and gain value from their intellectual property (patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets) as well as obtain protection for their most important ideas and products. With a degree in physics and licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for more than 10 years, Kirk works with clients whose products are as diverse as circuit and electrical designs, medical devices, computer software and Internet, heavy equipment and manufacturing, alternative energy and fuel, and consumer goods.

Kirk co-authored two books on patent law and is a mentor for local startups with Gateway Volunteer Mentoring Service. He also works with startups in other areas including issues related to crowdfunding campaigns and additive manufacturing (3D Printing). Kirk is also an active member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, where he was formerly the Chairman of the Committee for Emerging Technologies. He is also involved with the Intellectual Property Committee of the IEEE.

Kirk was selected for inclusion in Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars® 2010 and 2013.

Melanie Severs
Melanie has worked as a lead artist, animator, UI and graphic designer, illustrator, video editor, teammate, and Play-Doh sculptor on a variety of games and apps for PC, Mac, and mobile devices. She created the artwork and character animations for the game Hive Jump by Graphite Lab.
Jonathan Leek
Michael Lee is a game programmer with a longtime focus on unique interactive experiences. Currently he is working at Schell Games on projects experimenting with AR/VR including Happy Atoms, a mixed-reality AR toy and app that teaches chemistry through building and play. Outside of work he also co-founded an indie studio creating original and licensed mobile games such as Outdodge and Fly Catbug Fly based off Cartoon Hangover’s Bravest Warriors cartoon. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA and helps organize local game dev community efforts.
Monique Parasram
Monique Parasram is the Studio Wrangler and General Counsel for Butterscotch Shenanigans. She keeps the studio running buttery smooth by managing everyday operations and optimizing administrative processes, all while using her Sauronic eye to keep the team’s long-term goals in sight. Monique corrals chaos, contracts, and calendars, which allows the studio to continue its work on games and tech… and to occasionally breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that someone knows what’s going on.
Pamela Gay
A lifetime stargazer, Dr. Pamela L. Gay has followed her obsession to a profession. Today Pamela runs the CosmoQuest, a virtual research facility. This second generation citizen science site is designed to provide the public with opportunities to participate in NASA related science programs, while also giving them access to online seminars, star parties, classes and more.
Ross Hersemann
Ross is an attorney, writer, and gamer. He is the Founder of Loading Law, a Chicago-based law practice, and provides legal counsel to video game developers and entrepreneurs in the tech sector. Ross is also the Organizer of the Chicago Video Game Law Summit and an Adjunct Professor of Video Game Law at DePaul University. He speaks frequently on hot topics in law and technology and his book on Video Game Law will be published in 2017. Ross also serves as Co-Chair of the CBA YLS Creative Arts Committee, Vice Chair of IGDA-Chicago, and Board President of the VGA Gallery.
Saam Pahlavan
Saam Pahlavan is the most Excellent Templar of Tacos at Austin based indie game studio, Taco Illuminati. He’s been working in the game industry for 4 years and has worked on various titles including commercial products and some of his own.
Sam Coster
Sam Coster is one of the three founding brothers of Butterscotch Shenanigans, where he is the creative director, lead artist, and world builder. Always fascinated with people and process, Sam got a degree in psychology, then discarded his diploma for a career in gamedev as the artist for Butterscotch. Over 4 years, Sam’s art and the team’s games have given absurd joy to 5 million players across the world.
Scott Petrovic
Scott is the UI designer/developer for Krita – a free and open source painting application. He is the author of “Digital Painting with Krita 2.9” and has been featured in magazines such as ImagineFX. He has been involved in the St. Louis game development community since 2009 and has done more game jams than he can count. He holds a bachelor degree from Purdue University in computer graphics technology. Scott is employed at Swank Motion Pictures as their UI designer/developer.
Suzanne Jackiw
Suzanne Jackiw is an associate at the Interactive Entertainment Law Group and a Certified Information Privacy Professional – US. She has written articles on the legal issues of game development for several online and print publications and has spoken at several industry conferences and online programs. She is Project Manager at the Video Game Bar Association, an organization that brings together attorneys who work primarily or exclusively in video games. Additionally, she’s Operations Director at Take This, a nonprofit that educates about and advocates for mental health in the games industry.
Tammy Duplantis
Tammy Duplantis is a Louisiana-born composer, game designer, and performer of assorted instruments both physical and digital. Finding beauty and meaning in the ways that people use technology to communicate with each other, she strives to create work that facilitates further creative expression in her audience. She designs and performs experimental chiptune carts as Tambalaya; her music and games have been featured at national conferences such as SEAMUS, NYCEMF, and Different Games Conference. She is currently inhabiting the San Francisco Bay Area, having recently received an MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College.
Tom Caprel
Tom Caprel is a marketer, gamer, tech enthusiast, and trained opera singer. In 2013, Tom and his co-founder started a big-data website to analyze virtual markets with the goal helping players get the most out of their time in-game. In 2015, Tom started a dedicated marketing company, Hyperion Marketing, to help small game/software developers show their success to the world. Tom is on the board of IGDA Chicago, and has been the Communications Director of the Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery since February 2016. Tom has been in marketing for 8+ years, and regularly works with Chicago startup incubators.
Xinyu David Song
Xinyu (David) Song has been making and writing music for video games since middle school. He recently completed his doctorate in biomedical engineering, with some of his research exploring the intersection of video games, sound, and medical rehabilitation/diagnosis. He is particularly interested in using games to improve health, which neatly unifies two of his main passions.