Meet the Judges

Heather Chandler

Heather Chandler

Interactive Game Developer & Former Senior Producer, Fortnite

Heather Chandler

Heather Chandler

Interactive Game Developer & Former Senior Producer, Fortnite

Heather is a veteran interactive game producer with over 25 years of experience in the video game industry, including serving as senior producer on the wildly popular Fortnite for three years. She is a consultant, author, STEM advocate, entrepreneur and speaker. Heather's entrepreneurial passion, her love of games, and passion for bringing people together with unique experiences, led her to open Whole Brain Escape in Apex, NC in 2019. Heather was recognized by the Triangle Business Journal, as one of its 2020 Women in Business Award Recipients.

Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott de Cayeux

Iconic Game Developer, Astronaut & Co-Founder, Space Adventures

Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott de Cayeux

Iconic Game Developer, Astronaut & Co-Founder, Space Adventures

Dr. Richard Garriott de Cayeux is an icon in the computer gaming field, having created games for more than 45 years. He is the father of “Massively Multiplayer Online Games” and also credited with the creation of the gaming terms “Avatar” and “Shard” (for divisions of servers). He and his games, of which the best known is the Ultima Series, have been inducted into the computer gaming hall of fame. He received the industry lifetime achievement award and has been named a “Living Game God”. He has built 3 leading gaming companies: Origin Systems/Electronic Arts, Destination Games/NCsoft and most recently Portalarium, which operates the successor to his previous works now known as “Shroud of the Avatar”.

Richard is also a principle shaper of commercial human spaceflight. He co-founded the X Prize Foundation and Space Adventures which remains the only company to arrange space flights for private citizens. He is the sixth private astronaut to have lived aboard the International Space Station. As the son of a NASA astronaut, he became the first second-generation astronaut. He remains a key leader in civilian and commercial space. Richard also served on the NASA Advisory Council. From his space activities, he has been inducted into the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Ham Radio Hall of Fame. He also received the 2009 National Space Society’s Space Explorer Pioneer Award, the Aerospace Medical Association’s 2009 SNFS Lovelace Award, and the 2009 Arthur C Clarke Award for Individual Achievement.

As an explorer, Richard has traveled around the globe, including through the jungles of Africa, the Amazon, the North and South Poles, the deep seas (Titanic, hydrothermal vents and deep wrecks), as well as orbiting the earth aboard the International Space Station. Through all these explorations, Richard has worked to advance scientific understanding and environmental responsibility. Though he dropped out of the University of Texas to start his first gaming company, he has since received an honorary doctorate degree from Queen Mary University. Richard’s non-profit and philanthropic works include serving on the boards of The Explorers Club and The Challenger Center for Science Education.

Richard is married to Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux and they have two children: a daughter Kinga and son Ronin.

Tania Hack

Tania Hack

Senior Director of Programs, Games for Change

Tania Hack

Tania Hack

Senior Director of Programs, Games for Change

Working as the Senior Director of Programs, Tania oversees a variety of youth, community and client-facing programs at Games for Change. Her primary focus is the G4C Student Challenge – a national game design program and competition through which youth learn to design and code games about issues impacting their communities. In addition to running G4C's youth programs, Tania oversees G4C's professional design challenges and runs the annual G4C Awards - a prestigious awards program honoring the year's best games and XR for impact and learning. She also supports various client services including workshops, consultations, executive production of games and more.

Tania graduated from Cornell University with a BA in film, theater and dance and has a certificate in entertainment media management from NYU-SCPS. Her professional background spans a range of entertainment companies and productions including Vivendi Games, the Hamptons International Film Festival, Visit Films LLC, and the Charlie Rose Show. She is a social gamer, a lover of cinema, and a big advocate for the power of interactive media to make the world a better place. She also has a peekapoo named Etta.

Shirin Salemnia

Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Founder and CEO, PlayWerks and WhizGirlz Academy

Shirin Salemnia

Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Founder and CEO, PlayWerks and WhizGirlz Academy

Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia is the Founder and CEO of PlayWerks and WhizGirls Academy. PlayWerks is an interactive media company that creates multi-platform immersive experiences. At WhizGirls Academy, students engage in project based learning with tech literacy while acquiring coding skills, entrepreneurship tools, and building confidence as members of their communities using gamification with a healthy balanced lifestyle slant. As a thought leader and tech pioneer, she has created programs for The White House Council of Women and Girls and collaborated with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden at the Reach Higher Education Summit at the White House. In 2013, she hosted the first Hackathon for Women and Girls with The White House. In May 2014, she hosted the Kids Hack for LA in collaboration with Mayor Eric Garcetti, the White House, and will.i.am's i.am.angel Foundation.

Shirin is also a TEDx speaker and was an esteemed panelist at the Milken Institute Global Conference. She has been honored with these exemplary distinctions: The Los Angeles City Pioneer Woman of the Year and the IJWO Woman of the Year awards. In October 2015, She was honored as a Tribeca Disruptor Innovation Fellow. And she is currently an Advisor to the Bixel Exchange and on the Executive Committee for the Television Academy's Interactive Media Peer Group.

Vinod lobo

Vinod Lobo

Founder and CEO, Learning Upgrade

Vinod Lobo

Vinod Lobo

Founder and CEO, Learning Upgrade

Vinod Lobo is the founder and CEO of Learning Upgrade, which publishes online courses and smartphone apps to teach English, reading, math, and digital literacy. He has brought together educators, musicians, artists and programmers to produce innovative, engaging lessons designed for breakthrough growth. Through songs, video, games and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped millions students worldwide find a new path to learning success.

Under Vinod’s leadership, Learning Upgrade won the Grand Prize for the Adult Literacy XPRIZE. Vinod leads the effort to transform the lives of 100 million students in 5 years through innovative global partnerships.

Dennis Mathews

Dennis Mathews

Founder and CEO, Revelation Interactive & CTO, Codicast

Dennis Mathews

Dennis Mathews

Founder and CEO, Revelation Interactive & CTO, Codicast

Dennis Mathews is Founder and CEO of Revelation Interactive and CTO at Codicast Interactive. Co-founder of Black in Gaming (BIG) which is dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and promoting people of color in the game industry. He was mentioned as 1 of the top 10 African American game developers by Black Enterprise. He is an avid programmer and has been programming for over 15+ years for games, websites, hardware, and custom business applications. His expertise has been composed of evaluating and integrating new technologies and platforms which include AR/VR, casino, entertainment, game development, and oil & gas industries.

Virginia McArthur

Virginia McArthur

Executive Producer, Endless Studios

Virginia McArthur

Virginia McArthur

Executive Producer, Endless Studios

Virginia McArthur believes that to give our kids the future they deserve, we need to give agency for learning and creation back to our students and make building using the whole body and senses the norm. Presently, as the Executive Producer at Endless Studios, her team builds platforms for kids to play and build games that also teaches them to code. Prior to Endless, she was the Executive Director of Dynamicland, part of YCombinator Research, building a community and space that was the computer itself. Previously, Virginia was an executive producer for social games and chief of staff at Zynga and spent nine years building interactive play spaces at Maxis with The Sims Online and the original Sims for Electronic Arts. In addition to production, while at Zynga, she co-founded the company's social gaming for good, Zynga.org, bringing social goods to pay-to-play games.

Virginia began her career as a medical illustrator and producer in the 1990s and got into gaming after being recruited to work on one of Mattel’s first games for girls, Barbie Magic Hairstyler. Virginia lives in California with her two children: Bryce 14, Bella 11 and her husband, Chris. Free time is sparse, but when she finds a few moments, she is either out hiking, cross country skiing or raising the small farm of quail, cat, dog, fish and fruit trees in her yard.

Kevin Miklasz

Kevin Miklasz

Vice President, Data and Prototyping, BrainPOP

Kevin Miklasz

Kevin Miklasz

Vice President, Data and Prototyping, BrainPOP

Kevin Miklasz has worked in and around the fields of game design and education for over 10 years. As a trained scientist, he has a PhD in Biology from Stanford University, but has spent his time gaining a smattering of diverse experiences in education: designing science curriculum, teaching after-school science programs, designing science games, running a science and cooking blog, running game jams for kids, and running professional development for teachers and professional engineers. He is currently the VP, Data and Prototyping at BrainPOP, where he leads the data team and coordinates prototyping work on new products, and he is also on the board of the Global Game Jam.

Phillip Morales

Phillip Morales

Co-Founder, Orb Interactive

Phillip Morales

Phillip Morales

Co-Founder, Orb Interactive

Phillip began his professional career as a forensic animator before joining TimeGate Studios as a 2D/3D Artist. After the unprecedented success of TimeGate’s Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, Phillip was moved into a Lead Art position for Atari’s RTS Axis and Allies. As TimeGate’s successes grew, Phillip’s career of conceptual and visual design grew with them, and he assumed the role of Creative Director over projects such as Section 8 and Aliens: Colonial Marines. Those successes continue as a co-founder of Orb Interactive, helping craft the visual style and aesthetic for the hit mobile title Gods of Olympus.

Melissa Phillips

Melissa Phillips

Head of Studio, Silver Rain Games

Melissa Phillips

Melissa Phillips

Head of Studio, Silver Rain Games

Mel Phillips was named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Women Working in Games’(Gi.biz). Formerly the Programme Manager for Game events at BAFTA, she was crucial to the development of the BAFTA Young Game Designers Competition, launching the BAFTA Crew Games Programme and producing large scale events for BAFTA Members across the UK. She is one of ten people awarded for her ‘Services to Games’ by the H100 Club and was nominated for collaboration in the ‘Future Stars of Tech’ Awards (2018), ‘Digital Leader of the Year’ for Digital Leaders (2018) and was recognised as‘Mentor of the Year’ for the MCV Women in Games Awards (2020).

Abubakar Salim

Abubakar Salim

BAFTA nominated Actor & Founder and CEO, Silver Rain Games

Abubakar Salim

Abubakar Salim

BAFTA nominated Actor & Founder and CEO, Silver Rain Games

Abubakar Salim is a BAFTA nominated actor who has recently starred in the coveted role of 'Father' in Ridley Scott's 10 part sci-fi drama series Raised By Wolves, which premiered on HBO Max. Earlier this year, Salim launched a production company, Silver Rain Productions, with the intent to produce projects that will allow audiences to see themselves represented in media and feel empowered to share their story.

He serves as an executive producer on a film called The Whale, which recently was accepted into the Rhode Island Film Festival and co-produced Things I Wish I Told My Father with Letitia Wright. On British television, Salim starred in the period drama Jamestown as well as a recurring role in the Sam Mendes-produced BBC/Amazon series Informer. He also played a leading role in the mini-series Fortitude for Sky opposite Dennis Quaid. His other credits include Black Mirror, the Netflix/Canal Plus drama series Spotless, and Jonah in the BBC adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo's Calling.

Eyram Tawia

Eyram Tawia

Co-Founder and CEO, Leti Arts

Eyram Tawia

Eyram Tawia

Co-Founder and CEO, Leti Arts

Eyram is the cofounder and CEO of Leti Arts. As a game developer, Eyram believes that Africa can make a salient contribution to the world of game development and preserve culture through this. He has pioneered developing the gaming industry in Africa with Leti Arts. Eyram believes preserving cultural diversity through gaming and entertainment is very important and aims to prove this by creating world class games and comics using African talent. He's won several awards for his work in the African video game development space, a frequent speaker at game conferences globally and an author with his book Uncompromising Passion documenting his Journey as an African video game developer.

Meet the Judges -- Code Games Challenge Creating a better world starts with imagining one. Young innovators ages 10-18 across the globe are invited to create original video games. Presented by Endless and developed by XPRIZE Connect and E-Line Media /images/CodeGamesOGDefaultImage_3.jpg