IT TAKES 2,000 HOURS TO TRAIN AN AMATEUR ORGANIZATIONAL WARGAMER
WE HAVE A CENTURY OF EXPERIENCE UNDER OUR BELTS
The Liminal Operations staff has extensive experience in creating, designing, writing, publishing, and executing Immersive Interactive Games. Our team has created numerous award-winning tabletop, live-action, educational, and computer-based games, as well as acted as game masters, referees, and adjudicators for innumerable short and long-term game scenarios, campaigns, and exercises.
We also partner with experienced game designers, artists, educators, and programmers across the world, ensuring your organization receives the best training and testing experience.
James “Pigeon” Fielder, PhD (President)
I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1994 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in History, then received an early honorable discharge at the rank of Sergeant to attend the United States Air Force Officer Training School in 1999. I was a career intelligence professional and held a variety of enlisted and commissioned leadership positions, including electronic warfare squad leader, intelligence section chief, deployed intelligence flight commander, Expeditionary Group senior intelligence officer, and Numbered Air Force division chief. I retired in May 2019 as a Lieutenant Colonel, Associate Professor of Political Science, and International Relations Division Chief at the United States Air Force Academy.
I research interpersonal trust and emergent political processes through cyber-based interaction, and through tabletop and live-action gaming as natural experiments (also known as ludology, or the study of games and game play). I have over two decades of experience designing, executing, and assessing training exercises and wargames, from small-group tabletop discussions to multi-day exercises engaging 5,000+ participants.
I am a member of the American Political Science Association, the Manchester Game Studies Network, the Midwest Political Science Association, the Military Operations Research Society, and Pi Sigma Alpha, and am a peer reviewer for the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, the Journal of Political Science Education, Media War & Conflict, Simulation & Gaming, and Social Movement Studies.
In addition to founding and leading Liminal Operations, LLC, I’m also an Adjunct Professor and Research Associate with the Department of Political Science, Colorado State University.
My full academic CV is available here.
Sean Patrick Fannon (Vice President) has been developing roleplaying/interactive fiction games (for both tabletop and electronic formats) for more than 30 years. During this time, he’s worked with the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) as an Events Coordinator; DriveThruRPG as Marketing and Communications Director; and dozens of publishing companies as a consultant and freelancer. He is also the founder and president of Evil Beagle Games.
“Big Irish,” as he is frequently called in gaming circles, started his “career” as a Game Master in the late 70s. Generally believed to be the first Dungeon Master in Cobb County, GA, Sean discovered Dungeons & Dragons in middle school by reading an article about this brand new gaming experience in a magazine in the school library. One trip to a trendy mall store with his mom later, he introduced the local neighborhood kids to a fantastic, epic world of his own creation… and he’s never stopped.
After a couple of years at the United States Military Academy (West Point), Sean decided on a new path. Though he took on many “pay the bill” jobs (security, airline services, landscaping, even a stint as a Deputy Sheriff back in Cobb County), Sean began seriously writing for tabletop game publications in the mid-80s. His big break came with his first products for the Champions superhero RPG, followed by a long and illustrious career writing and designing as a freelancer for many well-known companies in this field.
Because of his notable extrovert nature, Sean also became involved in many of the marketing, communications, and promotional aspects of the games industry. In every company for which he did significant work, he also provided extensive help in selling their wares, whether through the burgeoning world of social media (his first promotional work of that type was on the brand-new America Online) or face-to-face events at conventions, where he ran demos for as many people as possible and conceived promotional events, often right on-the-spot.
“Big Irish” never stopped running games, nor did he ever cease creating worlds for them. He is an expert in crafting fictional spaces, believability in the experience, and shepherding both new and experienced participants through roleplaying and related activities. To this day, he runs multiple campaigns over many days of the week – such is his passion for the craft. Sean is also famous in the tabletop RPG community for his “Big Epic Games,” activities that have included dozens of players at a time engaging in multiple activities, all directed to a shared goal (all for fun, promotion, and usually to support a charity).
Whether with a small team or a room full of people, Sean is exactly the person you want up in front, getting the experience set up, explained, and underway. He has no social fear, an abiding passion for the craft of facilitating the kinds of activities we specialize in, and decades of practical experience to serve your specific needs.
Michael Surbrook (Director) started developing content role-playing games in 1998. With over 50 tabletop RPG products to his name, Michael Surbrook’s 20+ years as a designer and writer make him one of the most prolific content creators on the Liminal Operations team.
He is also a highly-trained and successful technical writer and documentarian, having worked for Drupal Connect (as the Lead Quality Control Engineer and Technical Writer) for over five years. More recently, he’s done contract work in this area for such companies as Stikky Media, North Studio, and Professional Case Management. Michael’s education includes study of Computer Science & Web Development at Howard Community College and Applied Arts & Design at the Community College of Baltimore County.
Michael is a fantastic game master, weaving impressive mental imagery and narrative into any facilitated experience and creating significant buy-in and immersion among his audience. He is nicknamed “The Professor” among the LO team due to his encyclopedic knowledge of countless areas of interest (including history and science). Michael is currently the Chief Operations Officer and a prolific creator for Evil Beagle Games.
Jennifer Shinefeld (Director) is a decades-long member of the local gaming and LARP communities, Jennifer is also one of the leading ballet instructors in the region with over 25 years of experience. Certified by the Royal Academy of Dance in 1998, she went on to obtain her Cecchetti Council of America Advanced Certification in 2010. She is a highly sought-after instructor for both younger students and those wishing to advance their teaching credentials, and she is frequently requested to travel to other states and to provide instruction via Internet venues.
Jennifer graduated Colorado University with BAs in English Literature and Philosophy. She was the Literary Director for the award-winning Progenitor, the literary magazine of Arapahoe Community College.
Jennifer’s role in Liminal Operations draws on both her keen intellect and her significant organizational and leadership skills. She is referred to by her teammates as “Maven,” a nickname connoting her unique capacity for matching skill sets to tasks and managing timetables to get things done. She is also tagged to be one of the lead facilitators in field exercises, tapping into her fearless public speaking capabilities and her mastery of interactive gameplay and social dynamics.
Cory Williamsen (Director) is not only an expert of many decades in the Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) and tabletop gaming fields, he’s a well-educated and trained Project Manager and Systems Analyst. With a focus on software development and system design implementation, Williamsen is driven to use technology to benefit all stakeholders in any project.
Cory graduated DeVry Institute with a 4.0 GPA and honors (including Dean’s List, CACCS Student of the Year, and other recognitions), where he attained a BS in Computer Information Systems. He has certifications pending in PMI Certified Associate Project Management and ITIL Foundation.
A lifelong member of the Colorado gaming community, Cory chose to give back in a big way by founding the Rocky Mountain Benefit Gamers Association (DBA Airmid Events), of which he is the CEO and President. He is also the Organized Play Facilitator and a developer for Evil Beagle Games.
Eric Fielder (Director) has extensive experience in both traditional and digital art, as well as creative writing, table-top roleplaying game design, and computer game design — their area of expertise is with RPGMaker VX ACE and MV, and with GameMaker Studio. They are a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and certified in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate/Flash. A portfolio of their work can be found at UnKanny Creations.
They are currently training in Unity, Blender, C#, Java, Python, and pixel art/animation. In addition, they are designing a full RPG system (currently titled “Horizon d20 System”), with three planned games using the system: “Stardust”, a space western; “Legends of Thoss”, a fantasy game; and “Operation: Hollow Point”, a cyberpunk game, based on their game “Operation: Angel Wire”, which was created in RPG Maker VX Ace (a demo of which is available on their portfolio).
Drew Miller, PhD, CMA, CFP, CM&AA, DDP (Associate Contractor)
Dr. Drew Miller is Managing Director of Advanced Analysis Applications, consulting in M&A negotiations, financial analysis, due diligence, blockchain technology, strategic planning, and business strategy wargames. A Certified M&A Advisor, Certified Management Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, and Due Diligence Professional, he helped found the Alliance of Mergers and Acquisitions Advisors. Dr. Miller helps companies evaluate blockchain applications, assessing fit and estimating the likely ROI, of blockchain business applications. Drew is a certified Hyperledger Fabric developer and a Certified Ethereum developer. Working with other independent business consultants, Drew organizes and runs “business strategy wargames” to stress test business plans. Drew is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy with a Masters Degree and PhD in Operations Research from Harvard University.
Drew worked as Corporate Planning and Development Manager at ConAgra Inc., the world’s fourth largest public food company and VP Planning and Development at Securities America, responsible for strategic planning, acquisitions, and business development for the sixth largest independent broker-dealer in the U.S. Drew served in Investment Banking as a Principle and General Securities Manager, and Financial and Operations Principle, at Global Vantage Securities and H Roark & Associates. As President of Heartland Management Consulting Group and Advanced Analysis Applications, Drew led business consulting assignments on strategic planning, business development, IT projects, M&A and Due Diligence for Middle Market and Fortune 500 companies. He worked with the Department of Defense business management modernization programs on a massive IT architecture and ERP program.
Michael “Ludes” Martindale, PhD (Associate Contractor)
Ludes brings experience in professional games to the Liminal Operations team. In his work for Frontier Technology Inc., Ludes designs logistics and sustainment games for the Department of Defense which merge traditional matrix game technologies with robust modeling and simulation capabilities to provide in-depth analysis to inform strategic investment decisions. Prior to entering the private sector, Ludes completed a diverse career with the US Air Force as a faculty member at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies and later as the Associate Director of the Institute for National Security Studies, Ludes designed the first wargame design course to introduce students to the concepts of game design, development, execution and analysis. Ludes is a 1991 USAFA graduate, holds a Master of Science in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Masters of Logistics Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of South Carolina. The combination of Ludes education and his experience as a strategist, planner and instructor, provide intellectual breadth and depth to Liminal Operation’s game design process.