Catlilli Games is a labor of love dedicated to enhancing public awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts.
Catlilli was co-founded in 2015 by a neurobiologist (Catherine Croft) and civil engineer (Jon Nardolilli) who transitioned to careers in education. Dr. Croft has since grown the company into a small team of people who pour their hearts into mission-based game design.
A lifelong lover of board games, Catherine earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia after graduating with her B.S. in Biology from Duke University. She then performed eight years of neuroscience research, with five years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and three years at MindSpec. Her research focused on the formation of synapses and their role in neurodevelopmental disorders, specializing in autism.
Throughout her scientific career, she actively participated in outreach and developed a passion for transforming science education. In 2015, she decided to combine her passion for games with her science expertise to excite children about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics. She co-founded Catlilli Games in order to reach a nationwide audience.
Catherine designed Starsmith, Crab Crossing, Neuro Hero, and Atomic Adventures, as well as co-designed Cycles and Crazy Cats. One of her games, Starsmith, was selected for the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) Arcade in 2020. Dr. Croft has spoken at numerous game conventions, including GenCon and MAGFest, and has also been interviewed for several podcasts. She was nominated for the Rising Star Award by Women in Toys in 2017 and was selected as a New Voices in Gaming Scholar in 2019.
As the mother of two children, Catherine understands the importance of exposing kids to STEM topics early and is thrilled to see them engage with complex topics in a fun, simple way. She also teaches Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, and AP Research at Fauquier High School, where she was nominated for the 2019-20 Superintendent’s Innovator of the Year Award.
An up and coming game designer and graduate from George Mason University, Keegan Herschel has worked on a variety of games throughout his time as a student both in high school and at George Mason University. Through this he has learned how to program(specifically in Java, C#, and C++), use 3d modeling software (such as Autodesk 3DS Max and Autodesk Inventor) and adapt to multiple game engines such as Unity3D and Unreal Engine 4.
Keegan was an accelerated student who has completed multiple advanced academic programs including the Pre-Engineering program at Grassfield Highschool in Chesapeake VA. (a top 500 school in the U.S.), the physics program at Governor’s School @ Innovation Park, as well as other elevated education programs. Because of these accelerated programs, Keegan Herschel has graduated from George Mason University a year ahead of schedule, at the mere age of 20.
In addition to his academic accomplishments, Keegan Herschel has an avid interest in 3D printing, playing games both digital and physical alike, using his free time to write and design a campaign for the Dungeons and Dragons group for whom he is Game Master.
Keegan has developed most of the games in Catlilli’s product line and has also designed his own game called Ember.
A current student at George Mason University, Elizabeth Cherry has a love for making art, and finds that the Computer Game Design program was the perfect program to make art for. She is a dedicated worker, and is determined to work on a project until the end.
She focuses on making 2D and 3D art assets for many different projects for Catlilli. Examples of her work can be found in Atomic Adventures and Alembic, as well as several upcoming games. Elizabeth has also developed most of the games in the Catlilli product line.
Lisa Harrison is an artist with a focus in game art asset creation. She has been creating art for video games for over 5 years and studio pieces for over a decade. She graduated from George Mason University in May 2018 with a degree in computer game design. Throughout her time at George Mason, she has taken advantage of many internship opportunities as a texture artist, 3D environment artist, senior instructor of art and animation, consultant for the Virginia Department of Education, and quality assurance tester. Her experiences have led her onto the path of serious games with an especially high interest in creating educational games and virtual reality training simulations.
Aside from 3D modeling, texturing, digital painting, and creating visual effects for different projects in her free time, Lisa also enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons in multiple campaigns, organizing board game nights with her friends, and playing co-op games with her husband. Check out her portfolio at lcharrison.weebly.com. She is always looking to improve and is open to critiques via messages from her contact page.
Lisa’s artwork can be found in Baby Butterfly, an innovative collaborative play mobile app based on our award-winning game Cycles. Lisa has also developed many of the games in the Catlilli product line.
Gabriel is an aspiring Game Designer currently pursuing an degree in Computer Game Design from George Mason University.
Gabriel has worked on multiple digital and traditional game projects and has experience with various game genres. He specializes in the design and implementation of game mechanics and user interfaces.
Gabriel has developed most of the games in the Catlilli product line. He also led creation of Baby Butterfly, an innovative collaborative play mobile app based on our award-winning game Cycles. He is now progamming a digital game based on the immune system.
A graduate from George Mason University, Alexander Schaaf is a game designer with experience creating games in both digital and table-top mediums. Through his coursework at George Mason University, he has experience with 3D art and animation programs such as Autodesk 3DSMax and Maya, as well as experience with multiple game engines, such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4.
With the experience of making many student game projects and aiding in the design and development of recent Catlilli titles, Alexander is hoping to continue to develop his design skills with the goal of creating new, unique, and memorable game experiences in multiple mediums.
Former Team Members
Jon co-founded Catlilli Games in 2015 and was our primary game designer for the first two years. Jon is a fountain of creativity and a talented teacher who translates STEM concepts into fun game mechanics. His spirited, whimsical approach to game design is the basis of the Catlilli Games philosophy.
He is an engineer and educator by trade and a tabletop gamer by passion. He earned his Civil Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University and has an extensive background in both Magic: The Gathering and Dungeon Master.
Jon designed most of Catlilli’s early award-winning games, including Will it [BLANK], Tacto, Insect Intersection, Cycles, Crazy Cats, and Alembic. He also designed Operation Ebola, an immunology game for the Yale Learning Center that was the basis for a research study published in Simulation & Gaming.
Jon currently teaches math and board game design at Nysmith School for the Gifted.
Orville Paynter is an artist whose skill set focus revolves around 2D and 3D content creation. Beyond extensive skill sets in major programs, such as Unity, Autodesk and Adobe products, among others, he began his passion as a traditional artist. Practices in graphite, oil, photography, and sculpture, as well as a deep rooted love of the game and media industry helped form a burning passion for creation. Throughout his career, he has acted as project manager, graphic and 3D artist, animator, lead designer, story board illustrator, programmer, and game developer.
Orry’s strong leadership and creativity was critical in building Catlilli Games. He also worked on or led a majority of the games in the Catlilli product line. His artwork can be found in the hand-painted cards of our award-winning game Cycles. Furthermore, he led creation of Operation Ebola, an immunology game for the Yale Learning Center that was the basis for a research study published in Simulation & Gaming.
Orry moved on to work at RainCrow Studios. His interests include educational games, architecture and 3D realistic visualizations, virtual reality serious games, and military training simulations.
With a passion for designing games, Rumtin began focusing on programming and audio early on in high school. The passion he has stems from the Nintendo games he played growing up as well as many board games, like Settlers of Catan. He has lead a team of 50+ students at George Mason University’s Game Analysis & Design club, developing a small game he pitched himself with less than 24 hours of total work time. His goal is to create games and products that not only entertain, but educate.
A lifelong gamer, Tyler started with PC and Nintendo classics such as Myst, Descent, and Dragon Warrior. Though he originally trained as an artist, he graduated George Mason University with a degree in Computer Game Design, and an emphasis on programming for games. Tyler’s diverse experience also includes work in education and youth sports, having been both a private and corporate swim instructor for over 7 years.
Tyler moved on to earn his Master’s Degree in Computer Game Design and teach at Mason Game and Technology Academy, working with elementary and middle school level kids in STEM and game design-related fields.
A recent graduate from George Mason University, Oliver’s love for game design has set him on a course to truly understand what makes games look and play so well. He is determined to make any project he is in be a huge success and learns everything he can like a sponge.
Oliver has developed most of the games in the Catlilli product line, and his art can be seen in games such as Atomic Adventures. He is currently designing a digital game based on the immune system.
Eeshan is a current student at George Mason University, with a passion for art and has found that the Computer Game Design program has helped him to hone his talents. His main focus is 2D character concept work, but he has skill with every aspect of the art pipeline, from creation of the character, to modeling, texturing, and animating.
In his spare time, Eeshan writes music and practices his 3D modeling, not only characters, but inorganic objects and props, as well as environments, for virtual reality games. He also dabbles in voice acting.
Eeshan helped develop many of the recent games in Catlilli’s product line. He also created music for Baby Butterfly, an innovative collaborative play mobile app based on our award-winning game Cycles.
A current student at GMU, Michael’s love for games has set him on the path towards being a designer himself. He’s determined to help out on as many projects as he can towards this goal.
Michael involved himself in a handful of game building events, and by doing so, he’s hoped that these experiences can teach him not only the essentials of designing a game, but also how to be a team player.
Michael contributed to many Catlilli projects, including Operation Ebola, an immunology game for the Yale Learning Center that was the basis for a research study published in Simulation & Gaming.
Marco Quiroz is a Computer Game Design graduate of George Mason University, specializing in 2D/3D game art. He has experience in traditional and digital art mediums including 3D modeling, sculpting and texture rendering. Having previous knowledge in fields of Computer Engineering and Pediatric Nursing, Marco brought his academic knowledge to help create fun and innovative games at Catlilli Games.
Marco’s artwork can be found on the hand-painted cards within our award-winning game Cycles. His portfolio can be found here:www.marco2d.com
Rhiannon is a graphic designer based out of Trumbull, CT. She grew up on Long Island and has a passion for all things artistic and gaming related, graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Graphic Design B.A. in 2011, her thesis specializing in educational gaming.
Rhiannon was contracted by Catlilli Games to create the artwork for Alembic, our experimental chemistry game funded by Indiegogo. By day Rhiannon works as a corporate designer in Stamford, CT, and she moonlights as a baking blogger and freelance designer for anyone in need of her special set of skills.
Iliana Vazuka graduated from George Mason University’s Computer Game Design program in 2014. She has been interested in Game Art and Design since she was 12, and has been pursuing the industry in almost every avenue ever since. She has expertise in both the plastic and digital arts, including 3D modeling, texturing, concept art, animation, digital painting, drawing, painting and stippling. In addition to her artistic skills, Iliana has about 8 years of programming experience, in both object-oriented and scripting languages, making her well-rounded in her field. Iliana has been teaching Game Development topics in art, programming and design since 2007, and she is even an Adobe Certified Educator for Photoshop CS5.1 and Adjunct Faculty at her alma mater. Whether it is teaching how to make games, or teaching with games, Iliana loves the impact she has on the next group of innovators.
Iliana programmed an early version of a mobile app for our game Crazy Cats.
Edward Chang graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Game Design. Although he primarily dealt with 3D animating and modeling during his college years, his hobbies also include board and card games. Working as a part time tutor, education turned out to be an unexpected yet rewarding experience for him.
Edward was the first intern hired by Catlilli Games and led game design on an early version of a mobile app for our game Crazy Cats.
An undergraduate in George Mason’s Computer Game Design major, Orlando has been playing games, both tabletop and video, for much of his life. Although his education is still in progress, he has good experience with most facets of game design, particularly programming, having taken several classes where he took an active part in coding games for projects. In addition to his experience with game design, Orlando also gained the rank of Eagle Scout in late 2014.
A freshman in the Honors College of George Mason University majoring in Computer Game Design, Nicolo is part of the Student Senate, Honors College Connects, and Phi Beta Lambda. He has been invested in becoming a video game designer ever since sixth grade. He is a creative and artistic individual. In the game design process, those traits translate into him excelling at conceptualizing ideas for games, as well as him creating unique character and environment designs.