2012 Judges

We were honored to have eleven judges with us for the Sammys, each of them skilled and dedicated to their field. (Their bios here were written at the time of the Sammys they judged, and may be out of date.)

Jonathan Webb


Jon Webb has been in game design in one form or another for 18 years. He was the Managing Director at BigBig Studios for nearly seven years, before moving to Sony Computer Entertainment, where he was hired as a Studio Manager. In December of 2011, he co-founded his own gaming company, Midoki.

Gregg Tavares

Having spent 27 years making games, Gregg knows the ins and outs. Gregg has worked as a programmer with Naughty Dog, as a Project Lead with Sony, and he does independent contracting. He is currently a software engineer at Google.

Alex Neuse

Alex first became professionally involved in the gaming industry in 1997, when he became a QA tester for LucasArts. He stayed with them for six years, being steadily promoted to Lead Gameplay Consultant. In 2003 he began working with several other titles, mainly projects with Activision, where he was hired as Design Adviser. In 2007, he founded Gaijin Games, where he is currently Game Designer and CEO.

Jane Pinckard

Jane Pinckard is associate director of the Center for Games and Playable Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is internationally known for her long-running blog GameGirlAdvance, which explores games and art in a broader cultural context. In 2005, she co-created The 1Up show, a weekly video internet show about game culture for the 1Up Network. An expert in gaming, she has lectured at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University and Whitman College and served as a non-resident fellow at Stanford Law School in Lawrence Lessig’s Law in Virtual Societies class.

Michael John

Michael John has been a game designer and producer for many years. His most well known titles are with Naughty Dog, where he produced the Spyro games, worked as a lead designer on Daxter, and was involved in the making of several others. He currently owns and runs his own gaming company, Method Games.

John Peters

John Peters is a recent alumni from UCSC, the leader of Team Krinoid, which won last year’s Sammy Awards. After graduating, John continued his momentum with his team and created his own gaming company, which is in development of iPad/smartphone games.

Vinit Agarwal

Vinit Agarwal is currently a game designer working at Rumble Games on a yet to be announced title.

Graeme Devine

Graeme has been working with video games practically as long as they’ve been around. He grew up in Scotland, and had his first job developing computers at the age 14. At age 16 he was hired by Atari, where he ported arcade games to home computers. Over the years he has worked with many companies, and is best known for his very successful horror games, The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour, which together sold well over 2 million copies. He worked on Quake III and Quake III Arena, was hired by Apple to ensure that their iOS devices could play games well, was the Lead Designer of Halo Wars, and most recently he is the owner of GRL Games, a Santa Cruz-based game company that makes game for iPads and iPhones.

Kathleen Sanders

Kathleen has been a video game journalist for eight years. In 2005 she started working with IGN, writing game articles. Since then she has written for several gaming publishers, and has transitioned into community management. She currently works at Microsoft, where she is a Senior Community Manager.

Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez has been a part of the gaming industry since the early 90s. He’s been a part of over 20 games, either as a designer or producer. In 2000 he was hired by Microsoft, where he partnered with Lionhead Studios and produced his most successful games to date, the Fable series. He still works with Microsoft as a Senior Manager.

Mark Henne

Mark started working in animation and visual effects back in 1990, after earning his MS in Computer Science at UCSC. He’s been busy at Pixar since 1994, starting with the original Toy Story, and including stints on various other Pixar movies, both as a supervisor and technical artist. Look for his most recent work on hair and clothing in the upcoming film, Brave.