Category Archives: Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab

Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves – Conference, Spring 2024



Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves was a smash success. With roughly 70 attendees from all over central Texas, it was an amazing crowd of film makers, artists and academics showcasing their approaches to both teaching and practicing storytelling in the 21st century. The stories and lived realities shared by those about experiences inside and outside the classroom was inspiring and set an amazing tone for the conference. Below you will find a short summary of each presentation, along with photos and video that document them, we hope you enjoy them and can join us at next years conference.


Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism, Media & Gaming Lab

The Media Gaming Lab was presented by professor Jonathan Guajardo and graduate student Rick Pulos, they introduced the approach of lab in terms of facilitating student, faculty and community engagement. Then student Connor McCormick presented experience as a year student. Senior and graduating student Zayno Rayne gave a presentation about his experiences of wanting to be part of the music scene, to becoming a booking agent for the Grand Stafford Theatre in Bryan, TX. Doctoral student David Dockery then gave a presentation about gaming and personalized experiences of narratives and spoke about the lab’s facilitation of a weekly gaming meet up. Overall the presentation was well received, great questions fielded, check out the video for more.

University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown made their presence known at the 21st Century Storytelling Conference. Dr. Albert DeJesus, Dr. Anthony Ramirez, who are the co-directors of the Center for Latino Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown along with their student assistant Jasmin Rojas, brought various student organizations and alumni including Latinas Achieve, Conjunto Cultural Appreciation Group, and Que Onda Magazine. During the presentation, each group had an opportunity to share their experiences at UHD and their collaborative efforts with the Center for Latino Studies. What made this presentation special was how closely tied the group was. They called themselves “familia” or family. This was evident throughout the presentation as each presenter was very open and vulnerable while sharing their work, experiences, and more. During the Q&A portion of the presentation, led to a further discussion about Latinidad and identity with the audience as many of the audience members felt a connection to the presentation. This led to a very powerful emotional moment for everyone at the conference. It was a real honor and privilege for the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Latino Studies and our various student organizations to be at this conference. We hope to make this an on-going tradition. 


The keynote was presented by joey lopez phd and focused on the theme of the conference Storytelling in the 21st Century, Our Academic Selves. His presentation works through his own lived reality and how he uses storying telling as his way of publishing works.

Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism 

The Texas A&M Department of Communication & Journalism’s Graduate Program presenters were Dr. George Villanueva and Dr. Anna Wolfe. They both contextualized the program and it’s efforts to foster multimodal works, as well as provided insight into course work performed in their courses. Then Ph.D. students Rick Pulos and Valentina Aduen presented their multimodal works with a great response from the audience. Master student Nathan Carr presented on video gaming and it’s role in mental health and it’s impact on society.

Texas A&M University, College of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts

Representing the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts, Dr. Michelle Simms reflected on her adjusted approach to teaching that she expanded to embrace a master-apprentice style model. Dr. Matthew Campbell went on to discuss project-based education, involving STEM students in liberal arts studies, and a festival supported by the PVFA Performance Studies program, Lorefest, in which students were charged to research local or glocal folklore, then take that research and creative a performative presentation with the information uncovered and gathered. Campbell’s argument being that an approach to exposing non-humanities students to the benefits of humanities research may be through the production of creative output related to that research. Dr. Will Connor wrapped up the panel with a discussion of teaching methodologies incorporating a traditional Presentation-Practice-Production model and Constructionism philosophy that encourages a personalization and therefore internalization of materials taught by inviting the students to build an asset based on the course material. In his case, Connor’s students build noise-making devices and musical instruments and performed with them in “real-world” settings to solidify connections and understandings of the related practices and cultures associated with the instruments.

Community Panel

Curated by professor joey lopez, the community panel consisted of three unique individuals who practice community building through art in varying ways. Than Niles presented about his journey of community building as a film maker and then showed a trailer to one of his films that was suppose to be released right when COVID occured, he ended up working with the San Antonio Food Bank to put together a drive in theater experience which raised funds for the food bank. Then Victoria Snaith gave an amazing “academic self” performance jamming and riffing on the presentations and her own lived reality, bringing an energy and breath to the space that thespians are so good at doing! Inspired by the artists before him, Ernesto Cuevas seized the opportunity to expand upon the energy and incorporated some of Dr. William Connors presentation to do perform a live mural building exercise using the whiteboard and volunteers. What was created were intermodal works of art that built community and meaning through the sharing of symbols and their meanings. Check out the video:

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Film Production Program

Professors Gabriel Duran, John Darbonne, alongside student Sara Carlson, delivered an enlightening presentation on TAMUCC’s Advanced Narrative Pedagogy. Professor Duran provided a comprehensive insight into the Advanced Narrative Film course, a distinguished 4000-level program meticulously crafted to immerse students in real-world film production scenarios. From the intricate art of casting to the nuanced orchestration of crew dynamics, and from the meticulous management of budgets to the seamless coordination of departments, this course stands as the bedrock of professional filmmaking education.

Expanding on this discourse, Professor Darbonne underscored the collaborative ethos of the curriculum, underscoring how students actively engage with complementary courses such as Advanced Editing. As a unified department, the goal is to amalgamate diverse talents into a singular project, pooling resources and expertise with the audacious ambition of clinching a nomination for the revered Student Academy Awards. This collective endeavor not only marks the pinnacle Capstone project for the department but also serves as a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to nurturing cinematic excellence.

During the presentation, TAMUCC student Sara Carlson, who is enrolled in both Advanced Narrative and Advanced Editing, shared her firsthand experiences as the project lead. She elaborated on the challenges encountered and the invaluable lessons gleaned from participating in a class structured to mirror real-world environments. Following the presentation, an engaging Q&A session ensued, with attendees eagerly seeking insights into the implementation and outcomes of such an immersive educational approach.


joey concluded the conference speaking about building community and reflecting on our own journey’s and how they impact each other.

What’s Next?

Our take away’s from this conference is that we are definitely having another! We have begun working on one to take place in San Antonio, TX. We will see where that goes, our hope is to include k-12 and higher education alternative pedagogically based programs. So stay tuned!

Music & Movie Making in Texas Conference Spring 2024


Music and Movie Making In Texas Conference Write Up

The 2nd annual Music and Movie Making in Texas Conference was a success this year.  With around 60 people in attendance on Saturday and over (get amount from Zayno) at the School of Performance Visualization and Fine Arts Friday concert at the Grand Stafford Theatre.

Organized by the Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab, the three main organizers were student Zayno Rayne, Professor Jonathan Guajardo and joey lopez phd.  We would like to thank them for all their hard work.

Sponsors of the conference

  • Texas A&M Race Ethnicity Studies Institute ($500 grant)
  • Texas A&M English department (facilities)
  • Texas A&M Performance Visualization and Fine Arts (equipment)
  • Texas A&M Communication & Journalism Media & Gaming Lab. ($1000 for food (special thanks for Professor Jonathan Guajardo)

We would like to thank them for the support given.  The conference went smoothly and offered a well rounded set of panels with good interactions and questions.  Lunch was provided by Blue Baker, a special thank you to Rubi Ruiz, the department of Communication & Journalism administrator for all her help, she makes our lives so much easier.  


Media Studies Panel

The media studies panel consisted of four professors, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Ramirez, Dr. Connor & Dr. Sullivan. Each presented about their research. Dr. Campbell presented about AI and the premise of AI’s from outterspace and music knowledge, it was highly engaging. Dr. Connor presented about licensing and we quickly learned he should give a full workshop with local musicians sooner than later. Dr. Ramirez presented about comics and media studies and his journey studying borderland culture in the media, such as comics. Dr. Sullivan discussed his research into television. They then answered questions moderated by joey lopez. Check out the video stream:

Student Media Panel

The student media panel consisted of Diego Valle & David Kang of CSTAT Collage, Kyle Heise of SZNS, Claire Thessen of A Line Magazine and Sophie Villarreal Battalion. Each student media publication previewed their work and spoke about the opportunities and challanges of creating student media. It was great to have two organizations who are officially part of Texas A&M and two orgs that are independent of Texas A&M but started and run by A&M students.

Max Nied Key Note

Max Nied of Monstercat Records delivered a “boots on the ground” presentation where he worked through what it is like to develop a music career and how his career has evolved working with Mostercat Records.

2am Productions Key Note

2am Productions gave a keynote, which consists of Alazar Asrat & Marco Mireles, both graduates of Texas A&M and former participants of the Media & Gaming Lab. Their presentation featured their journey to becoming media makers and how they decided to create 2am Productions, highlighting their successes and lessons learned.

BCS Music Scene Development Panel

The BCS Music Scene Development Panel consisted of local music producers and two music making student org presidents. Their presentation revolved around their approaches to impacting the music scene in the BCS area as well as discussing the challanges of creating an overall community.

Regional Bands & Creators Panel

The regional band and creators panel featured local performers Dylan Zientek, 4kace and Daniel San. Moderator Zayno asked questions about their approach to music making, performing and then had the performers show off their work.

Media Making Panel

The Media Making Panel consisted of students and local media makers. Each media maker spoke about their approaches and then showed their works. It was great to see such creative work being done.


Plans for the 3rd Annual Music and Movie Making in Texas conference are already in the works. One of the major take aways was the need to have more workshops for the practitioners of music and video production pertaining to revenue streams, business structures and licensing. We have also noticed a desire for a full on film screening, so we may add that into the mix with a film festival. Another take away was the need to have our live music event after the conference, not before. We also are planning to have a new media production track where panelist show their works in VR/AR and other new media fields.

We would like to thank all those who participated in the conference and we hope to see you all again at the 3rd annual Music and Movie Making in Texas Conference in the Spring 2025!

Fall 2023 Media & Gaming Lab Write Up



To say we had an action packed semester would be an understatement. We had a slew of activities going on within and beyond the lab. So many faculty, students and community members collaborated with the lab and have taken us on so many new trajectories and journeys. We cannot thank everyone who participated enough.

Fall 2023 Grant Projects

Lorefest 2023

Lorefest 2023 was a huge success with 3 nights of local lore programing performed by Dr. William Connor and Dr. Matthew Campbell’s students.  Held in downtown Bryan, Krisy of the Village Cafe and Vino Boheme and Misty of the Frame Gallery hosted Lorefest for the 3 evenings.  It was amazing to have their support.  In addition to their support we would like to thank the following sponsors:

  • TAMU Performance Visualization and Fine Arts
  • TAMU Institute of Data Science
  • TAMU Race, Ethnicity Studies Institute

You can check out a full write up here:

High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills

The High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills is a collaborative project headed by Professor Angelique Gammon to garner hands on sports broadcast skills.  Professor Jonathan Guajardo Professor Lopez would collaborate with Profesor Gammon to purchase, secure and use new video broadcast and digital narrative equipment.  Specifically in Professor Gammon’s journalism 359 Reporting Sports Professor Guajardo and Professor Lopez provided hands-on workshops with both Broadcast and Digital narrative equipment.  In addition to this experience, Professor Guajardo and Lopez provided a hands-on workshop with the podcasting studio recently setup by the Media & Gaming Lab.  The Media & Gaming Lab hope to continue with hands-on workshops with an emphasis on Sports Reporting.  We hope to bring Kaye Cruz to campus in the Spring to give hands-on workshops where the students gain interviewing and general narrative sports reporting skill sets.  

AVPA Grant – Afro Latinx Life and Writing

The Afro Latinx Life and Writing symposium was developed by Professor Regina Mills & graduate student AJ Baginski made possible by an AVPA Grant.  The Media & Gaming Lab’s role in the grant was to help provide documentation of the event and give support for the development of a website.  We were able to provide photos and videos of the event.  This spring the Media & Gaming Lab will help with any web development and assets needed to help finish the web documentation.   

Lab Projects/Events

Skateboard Art

At the beginning of the Fall semester joey pitched an idea of having local and student artists create Skateboard deck art.  Throughout the fall semester and going into the spring 2024 semester, joey has distributed boards out to interested artists.  The goal of the Skateboard deck art is to create an art show locally at the Vortex, a creative space in Bryan, TX where the TAMU Skaters, local skaters and art patrons will come together and celebrate skateboard culture and beyond.  Here is a sample of one deck created by Clayton Bever, a current A&M student.

Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar

Held on October 23rd, the Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar was hosted by joey and his wife Dr. Corina Zavala who gave a presentation on the history of Dia De Los Muertos.  joey then gave a presentation on building shoe box altars and the attendees created shoe box altars exuding their own lived realities and experiences.  The Media and Gaming Lab provided printing capabilities so that attendees would be able to size and print photos of their loved ones for their altar, the results were great and the event is something we plan to host yearly.

Music Recording Workshop

One of the student requests for the fall 2023 semester was to host music recording workshops.  Dr. William Connor offered to lead the workshops and over two weeks students learned about recordings in the classroom as well as in the studio getting hands-on experience with microphone techniques as well as the recording process.  

Podcast Studio

joey had made it a priority for the Media & Gaming Lab to begin podcasting, Professor Jonathan Guajardo volunteered to head up the effort and together they began building recruiting people to create podcasts and also learn technical skills.  A full write up of the effort can be round here:

Kang & Co – CSTAT Collage

Kang & Diego of the Media & Gaming Lab further developed content for CSTAT Collage focusing on a story about the student led Texas A&M Bonfire. Their work included multiple on site shoots, interviews and research about the history of the Texas A&M Bonfire. Stay tuned for their publication of the story on their youtube channel.

  • 2AM Productions
  • Guest Lectures

Media & Gaming Lab Member Projects/Accomplishments

Rick Pulos

Rick Pulos survived the last semester of coursework in the CMJR doctoral program! It was a super productive fall that included an exciting trip to see Madonna in concert in Antwerp, Belgium. During that trip, he collected data for use in an autoethnographic account of what being a diehard fan is really like. He also partnered with the Parks & Recreation Department of the City of College Station to conduct research at their senior community centers. He came into conversation with all sorts of older folks who take Line Dancing classes at the centers for exercising and socializing. As a PhD student, exploring potential avenues for his dissertation has gobbled up a lot of his focus but he also managed to create some new media centered works. On September 21 as part of the “Landscapes of Belonging” recital, he performed an excerpt from his longer autobiographical theatre piece Mixing Ingredients or How to Make an American by Checking Off Boxes. He took elements of that performance and incorporated it into a media piece entitled “The ABCs of Trying to Belong.” These are his ruminations on his failures and success throughout his life of trying to belong. Watch it at the link below. 

Rick also continued his work with The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station. He took the footage he shot of every performance in 2023 and created a 15-minute video Celebration of the Season. It was shown on a huge scrim screen during the company’s 2024 season reveal party and it was unanimously loved by everyone in attendance. Check it out at the link below!

Zayno Rayne

Zayno Rayne has been a major contributor to the Media & Gaming Lab on multiple fronts.  This semester he played a major role in immersing the Media & Gaming Lab into the local music scene.  Zayno is now the talent scout for the Grand Stafford Theater, his work there has enabled all of the Media & Gaming Lab students and faculty the opportunity to be part of the local music scene, here is a full write up about it: