Hi there, I’m Kelli.

If your curious and want to know more about me, you’re in the right spot. If you’re looking for my CV, you can find it here.

I’m super stoked to be the Manager for Mental Health Research and Design at iThrive Games where I get to integrate my love for psychology, my passion for game design, and my lust for properly formatted, statistically significant research.

I’m a psychologist, game designer, and researcher. I study the way humans interact with games and how games can impact humans. My first research project in this area was my undergraduate thesis wherein I hypothesized my university would buy me video games for a psychological study. They did; hypothesis confirmed.

I integrated my passion for video games into my doctoral studies and quickly became known as “you’re that person who likes games, right?” For my dissertation, I designed an experiment that combined psychological measures with gaming habits and concluded that no, playing video games does not turn people into mindless killing machines or sad, lonely misfits (which was the theory at the time!)

After graduating with my doctorate in clinical psychology, I applied for and was awarded a fellowship at American University to pursue a Masters in game design. I brought my expertise in psychology into my classes and integrated psych concepts into my games. I developed skills in coding, game engines, and photoshop which all came together for my master’s capstone project – Ellie Beagle: Therapy Dog.


Ellie Beagle: Therapy Dog was featured at the 2017 Games for Change Civics Salon. I’m very proud of that.

At a glance

Education: MA Game Design PsyD Clinical Psychology
Awards: Top 50 Speaker, GDC 2016 Xbox Most Valuable Professional, 2012 – Present
Research Interests Games and empathy Mental illness, stigma, and games
Favorite Video Games Halo 2 Skyrim
Recommendations Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal Making Deep Games, Doris Rusch

Let’s connect!

If you’re interested in my work, I’d love to talk with you. I present regularly at gaming conventions, such as PAX, as well as provide trainings and workshops for professionals. As a freelancing game designer, I’m always looking for a chance to help make something amazing/creative/experimental.

Drop me a line anytime!