OUR FOUNDING STORY

Social Cipher is led by a team of autistic advocates, game developers, and social entrepreneurs. Motivated by personal experience, we believe in neurodiverse inclusion through representation, self-advocacy, and empowerment.

Our work has earned us recognition as Camelback Education Fellows, Halcyon Incubator Fellows, and most recently Facebook Gaming's 2019 Global Gaming Citizens.

We believe in a future in which neurodivergent youth can understand and embrace their differences to achieve magnificent things. Our team is going to make that future a reality.

Ship prepared to sail into the distance

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OUR MISSION

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Social Cipher’s mission is to represent and empower neurodivergent youth, to increase their self advocacy skills, and to build their self confidence. 

Our game and curriculum are not based around teaching kids how to emulate neurotypical behaviors and rewarding them for their ability to assimilate. Instead, we believe that developing social emotional learning skills, such as the CASEL competencies, helps youth to foster a healthy sense of self as a neurodiverse individual and construct positive boundaries. 

We believe that it is important for neurodiverse youth to feel respected for who they are, while also learning techniques for recognizing and communicating their own needs, even when everyone’s communication style may be different. 

As a 40% autistic company with an autistic founder, our development processes center the autistic employees’ perspectives. It is important to us that we do not encourage masking or erasing of neurodiverse traits in our characters or players. We also utilize identity-first language in our game and written materials, and use the framework of the social model of disability to inform our intentions as a company. 

With these core goals, we are excited to create a game that helps neurodiverse youth see themselves positively and find their place in the world.

To learn more about us, visit our FAQs

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OUR TEAM

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VANESSA CASTAÑEDA GILL

CEO

Captain of the SS Social Cipher. Vanessa handles all the business to keep Social Cipher shipshape. When she’s not thinking up the next big move for SC, she builds escape rooms and online mafia games.

LUCY STEVENS

HEAD ARTIST

Quartermaster. Lucy is the reason why Ava looks so good. She’s probably watching a Studio Ghibli film somewhere right now.

JOEL GROFF

LEAD DESIGNER / DEVELOPER

Pilot. Joel plots the design and development charts for Ava. He’s also Social Cipher’s resident fossil hunter.

LOUISA TSAI

PROJECT MANAGER

Boatswain. Louisa plans out the Social Cipher crew’s work (and makes sure Ava isn’t broken). Her current project is convincing Vanessa to order 500 Mup plushies.

MICHELLE ARTRECHE

DIGITAL MARKETING SPECIALIST

CALEB CUTLER

ANIMATOR

SHARIF SHAKHSHIR

NARRATIVE WRITER

LUCAS HARRINGTON

Psy.D.

SEL CONSULTANT

JESSICA SCOTT

NEURODIVERSITY CONSULTANT

PETER JUNG

SEL CURRICULUM WRITER

MACAULAY SZYMANSKI

COMPOSER

Connect on

PETER JUNG

SEL CURRICULUM WRITER

MACAULAY SZYMANSKI

COMPOSER

Connect on