Our Games

Our games get world-class research out to the public.

Lakeland
Lost at the Forever Mine
Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case
The Yard Games
Atom touch

Mixed Reality

Our games get world-class research out to the public.

Siftr
Ice Cube
ARIS

We're Field Day

We make learning games

We design games that bring contemporary research to the public, and we use the game data to understand how people learn.

Learn More
artwork with many different faces
David Gagnon

Modus Operandi

UW-Madison is ground zero for the field of games and learning. We've been here studying and designing games for over a decade.

Wondering how Field Day works?

  • Not a private company. We're a research lab at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
  • Committed to free. Our games are available for everyone.
  • Publically funded. We're funded through grants and Broader Impacts projects.
  • Subject agnostic. We design games for any subject.

Why Games?

Because they work

Researchers need to share their work with the public, but it’s hard to communicate super complex topics in a short time frame.

Games turn complicated topics into fun, hands-on experiences that actually reach people. Our games get millions of plays, with an average playtime of 20 minutes.

Meet us
Eric Lang and Jim Matthews

Our Team

We believe the future of publically funded research depends on public support. We use our combined creative and intellectual powers to get people excited about the latest research.

Field Day Internship Program

We offer student internships in Game Engineering, Art and Design, and Research. Join our multidisciplinary team and work on learning games that reach classrooms across the country and beyond. Engineering and Art and Design interns will leave with portfolio pieces. Research interns will contribute to academic publications. We’re always taking applications! Contact us if you’re interested. Art and Design applicants must include a portfolio.

Collaborating Artists and Contractors

David Gagnon

Director & Founder

David is a researcher at WCER. He's also a programmer, game designer, and passionate advocate for using games to understand and transform how kids learn. David is the co-founder of the PLAY MAKE LEARN conference and the Games and Learning Summit. He serves as a PI on several research projects that explore the following topics in video games: educational data mining, co-design, mixed reality (VR, AR), and location-based games.

David created ARIS, an open-source game design platform that has supported the development of thousands of location-based AR projects and hundreds of educational papers. David’s work supports other research, from the Open Game Data project, which shares our game data with educational researchers, to Field Day’s teacher fellowship program, which serves as a site to study teachers' professional growth.

David has been the producer or lead designer for over a dozen award-winning games in topics ranging from engineering, science, and mathematics to history and music. He has been an invited guest or keynote speaker for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the MacArthur Foundation, the Pearson Foundation, Serious Play, and several smaller workshops and conferences.

David casts a vision that gets other people excited about joining in the work. He understands the realities of how educational issues affect kids, which allows him to stick unwaveringly to his values. David brings energy and enthusiasm to every project, from research to game design.

Sarah Gagnon

Creative Director

Sarah is an artist, UX designer, messaging expert, and a fierce advocate for the kids who play our games. From the beginning, she has pushed us to create games that are more than just research instruments. Sarah knows that kids won’t learn anything if they don't care. She makes sure we're designing games that are fun, beautiful, and compelling. 

Sarah understands the importance of art in bringing our games to the public. She created our in-house art and communications team, and she ensures that all of our games have an online presence. She also leads game design projects and pitches concepts for new games. Her growing interest in Media Studies and theory influenced by the psychoanalytic tradition is the foundation of her focus on learning games and their role in society. 

As an artist, Sarah laughed when her daughter said she was “raised by scientists.” In reality, Sarah’s intuition as a non-scientist gives her crucial insight into what we make. She knows how to ask the right questions and empathize with the people who will end up playing our games.  

Jim Mathews

Education Director and Associate Researcher 

Jim is a teacher, researcher, and designer. His work explores the intersection of place, design, and civic engagement. In particular, he’s interested in creating and researching new media-based experiences (e.g., geo-locative games, place-based stories, and field research tools) aimed at connecting youth and adults with people, places, and issues in their community. 

As Education Director at Field Day, Jim leads our teacher fellowship program. The fellowships are crucial to the successful implementation of our games into schools across the country. As a teacher himself, Jim understands the importance of co-design. He cares about making games that actually work in the classroom, and he’s always looking for the best ways to bring teachers into the design process.

In addition to his work at Field Day, Jim teaches at Clark Street Community School.  

Eric Lang

Art Director and Lead Designer

Eric Lang is a designer with a unique combination of skills ranging from the artistic to the technical. He carries a heavy load as Lead Designer for UI and graphic design across all of our games, mixed reality projects, web content, print material, and front end development. 

As Art Director, Eric works with a wide selection of artists and channels their work into a cohesive finished project. He also functions as Lead Artist on several projects, including the Field Day brand and Lakeland. Eric has a knack for story development, world building, and general strategy and vision-casting. 

Eric cares about making games that are fun, compelling, and amazingly weird. His favorite era is the 1980’s, his favorite futuristic digital landscape painter is Simon Stålenhag, and his favorite bread is sourdough.

Mike Tolly

Software Developer and Game Designer

Mike is a developer with a serious knack for game design. He has worked as lead developer for STEMPorts, Play the Past, ARIS, The Firm, Viola, and Siftr, as well as helping with design work on Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case. Mike has a wide breadth of programming ability, with experience in web design, web apps, game scripting, native mobile development, and systems administration.

Mike’s ability to push through and get stuff done can feel a little bit magical. In reality, it’s a combination of technical skill and focus. Mike is a man of few words, but when you get a chance to talk with him, it’s obvious that he’s smart, thoughtful, and (when he wants to be) ridiculously funny. Mike brings a sharp instinct for design and an awareness of the user's experience to all of his development work. 

Autumn Beauchesne

Game Developer and Programmer 

Autumn is a game developer and programmer extraordinaire. She brings expertise in both educational game design and the creation of powerful, easy-to-use development tools. Autumn has been designing games ever since the mid 2000s, when she first began to express her ideas with GameMaker. She’s drawn to how games can be used to explore systems from mechanical and thematic angles. 

One of Autumn’s superpowers is her ability to bring other members of the Field Day team—including non-programmers—into the development process. She believes that the best games happen through collaboration, which means everyone on the team needs to be able to contribute without being held back by technical constraints. Autumn cares about developing tools that remove bottlenecks and allow the whole team to create and iterate together. 

Autumn was the sole developer and creative force behind Diffission (Filament Games), a fractions game that empowers kids to focus on self-improvement instead of perfection. She was also the sole developer for BeauRoutine, a tool used in nearly all of Filament’s Unity-based games, and the lead engineer for Do I Have a Right? (Filament Games), a civics game about constitutional law. Autumn has expertise in several design systems, but she works most often in Unity and Typescript. 

Jennifer Scianna

Research Intern and Director’s Minion 

Jenn is fascinated by how we can understand student thinking through game data. She began working with Field Day as a researcher analyzing data and conducting play-tests for Lakeland. Now she's stepping into the role of producer for AquaLab, a four-year project focused on teaching science practices. Jenn is also a designer for our in-progress game about Great Lakes shipwrecks. 

When it comes to advocating for kids, Jenn is unstoppable. As a former teacher, she brings a deep knowledge about how classrooms work and what teachers need. She works with our Teacher Fellows to design pedagogical tools, like a new teacher dashboard for Lakeland (soon to be applied across all our games). Jenn leads user-testing with kids for many of our games. 

In her role as Director’s Minion (or Assistant to the Director on paper), Jenn is constantly impressing everyone with her ability to keep all the administrative gears turning. Jenn’s superpowers include, but are not limited to: data analytics, ed tech, communicating with teachers, and keeping track of literally everything. 

Lindy Biller

Writer

Lindy is a creative writer, blogger, and copywriter. She brings a combination of keen story-building skills and intellectual depth to the worlds of both our games and our blog. Her years of experience working with teachers and learning game designers gives her a unique capacity as a writer. She contributes not only a love of story, but also the ability to learn about the complexities of education theory and game design.  

Lindy wrote the scripts and in-game dialog for Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case, Lost at the Forever Mine, STEMPorts, Lakeland, and many of The Yard Games. She works closely with Sarah to write and refine all of our web copy, iterating until we are able to explain complex projects in just a few lines.

Lindy is the reason the farmers in Lakeland have folksy wit and the Artificial Intelligence in Forever Mine is relatable and dimensional. She crafts stories that allow kids to embody the spirit of a scientist, historian, or detective, and she fosters a sense of wonder in the process.

Nick Spevacek

Undergraduate Game Engineering and Research Intern

Nick is a student game engineer with an interest in data science. His internship is split between our game engineering and research teams. Nick has experience working with Unity and C#, including developing two games from scratch for a weekend game jam. In his spare time, Nick teamed up with friends to create a puzzle game called Flightless. He’s currently studying Computer Science.

Field Day projects:

  • Developing game mechanics for Lakeland
  • Converting open game code data into a language that works with Unity

Nick was born and raised in Wisconsin. He attended high school in Middleton, where he ran cross country. Now he lives near the arboretum and enjoys running the trails in his spare time. You can find his github profile here.

Luke Swanson

Graduate Research Intern

As a researcher and software engineer, Luke is drawn to the unique possibilities of games for learning. He understands that some kids aren’t best served by the traditional education system, and he’s interested in how games can help change that. Luke’s programming and data analysis work has allowed us to gain valuable insights into how our games are being used.

Field Day projects:

  • Real-time game data dashboard for Lakeland
  • Open Game Data website
  • Data analysis and player clustering for Lakeland
  • Thermodynamics VR Interactive
  • Data analysis for Jo Wilder.

In his spare time, Luke is an amateur photographer and videographer. You can see some of his photography on the Computer Science department’s website.

Glenn Palmer

Graduate Research Intern

Glenn brings a rich depth of experience to his role on our research team. He studied physics at Duke University, taught high school math and physics, and then designed online curriculum for grades K-12 with IXL Learning, an educational website. Now a graduate student studying Computer Science, Glenn is passionate about collaboration and the crossing of silos. He’s interested in exploring meaningful ways to bring together his expertise in teaching, programming, and design.

Field Day projects:

  • Real-time data dashboard for Lakeland
  • Models to predict players’ behavior
  • Exploration of research questions at the intersection of technology, games, and design

Glenn grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. In his spare time, you might find him out hiking. He’s also an awesome drummer—during his undergrad, he played snare with the Duke Marching Band.

Ishita Dhoot

Undergraduate Research / Game Engineering Intern

Ishita is a game engineer pursuing a triple major in Computer Science, Data Science, and Economics. She splits her internship between our research and game engineering teams. She has designed games with Unity and enjoys moving between disciplines.

Field Day projects:

  • Integrating game data with Google Analytics for our upcoming AR game
  • Building prototypes in Unity for the Shipwrecks game

In her free time, Ishita plays badminton on a club team at UW-Madison and performs with Rang De, a Bollywood fusion dance team on campus. She grew up and attended high school in India.

Matt Murphy

Undergraduate Game Engineering Intern

Matt is a software engineer and undergraduate student with a passion for front-end development. He has experience working with Unity and C#. Prior to his internship at Field Day, he interned as a software engineer at Goldsmith Lab and MatrixCare. He’s been drawn to game development ever since he was a kid, when he started running and modding Minecraft servers.

Field Day projects:

  • Developing prototypes for AquaLab (specifically the job board mechanic, the argumentation mechanic, and an interactive map).

In his spare time, Matt plays competitive pinball! He travels to different bars and arcades for tournaments, including the world’s largest competitive pinball tournament in Pittsburgh. In 2019, Matt won $200 in his division and made it to the top 40!

“Daus” Muhamad Firdaus Husaini

Research Intern

Daus is a Madison-based software engineer with an interest in data analytics. His dream is to create his own games and use data mining and analytics to understand games in new ways. Daus hails from Malaysia and recently finished his undergrad here at UW-Madison, where he majored in Computer Science and minored in graphic design and game design.

Field Day projects:

  • Data analytics for the Lakeland real-time dashboard
  • Creating models
  • Writing game code for logging functions

Check out Daus’s website and find out more about his work here.

Reyna Groff

Undergraduate Art and Design Intern

Reyna is an artist with a flair for storytelling, character, and design. Reyna studied under Lynda Barry at UW-Madison. When she’s not making beautiful art here in Madison, you might find Reyna traveling the world and putting her three languages to good use. Kids (and adults) fall in love with Reyna’s whimsical, creative characters.

Field Day projects:

  • Lead artist on Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case
  • Painted art for Lost at the Forever Mine
  • Poster art for Lakeland
  • Comic art for our upcoming AR game

You can find Reyna on Instagram @rey.groff

John McCloskey

Past Intern: Undergraduate Data Analyst

John is a data analyst and an awesome communicator with a passion for transforming the education system. As a lifelong gamer, he’s excited about how adding games to the curriculum can allow students to shine in non-traditional ways. John’s expertise in game analytics allows us to gain a deeper understanding how our games are being used. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese, with Computer Science and Biology certificates.

Field Day projects:

  • Data mining and session/player clustering for Lakeland
  • Logging functions and feature extractors for Jo Wilder and Lakeland
  • Data analysis for Jo Wilder
  • The Open Game Data Website

Rodney Lambright II

Artist and Animator

Rodney is a talented game designer, animator, and artist. Officially, he does technical art and animation for our games. He also asks insightful questions, knows a ton about games, and brings awesome energy to the room. Rodney made concept art and animation for Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case, and he contributed animation, technical art, and 8-bit final game art for Lost at the Forever Mine. He’s currently working on Aqualab. Rodney is a full-time animator at PBS Wisconsin, a local partner that we love working with. You can find more of his work on Instagram @rodgod38

Danielle Sands

Artist and Designer

Danielle is an indie artist, designer, and gamer who makes fantastical 2D and 3D art for everything from video games to VR experiences. We met Danielle at MDEV, where she won the Best Art award for Gallus: Bazaar Eggscapade. (Yes, the game is as amazing as the title suggests.) Danielle has worked with us to create concept art for a currently untitled AR game. Danielle is a leader and mentor in the Madison game-art community. She started Art+Cade, a popup arcade and art show that raises money for charities. You can find her at sketchingsands.com

Jenni Leaver

Artist, Graphic Designer, and Painter

Jenni is an amazing artist and illustrator, with work that is both quirky and sophisticated. She’s created art with Field Day from the beginning, when we first began working on a series of middle school science games called the Yard Games. Jenni’s unique characters brought the Yard Games to life and captured the imagination of kids everywhere. She also created concept art for the CRISPR game, Aqualab, and our currently-untitled AR game. She is currently the Senior Graphic Designer at Pacific Cycle. To contact her, see her website and portfolio at jennifer-leaver.squarespace.com

Forest San Filippo

3D Artist

Forest is a 3D artist with a background in graphic design and business. As a freelancer, he loves moving between different projects and exploring new ideas and styles. Forest did all of the 3D art and animation for our upcoming AR game. He worked with Eric and Sarah (Art Director and Creative Director) to take the vision for the game and translate it into amazing characters and background art. Forest is also a business owner and musician. He and his brother designed several games together as the small game studio Flippfly—including “Race the Sun,” for which Forest also created the soundtrack. You can find more of Forest’s work on Instagram @ForestSanFilippo