New York Society of Play

The New York Society of Play is a family services provider committed to making the most of playtime.

  • At the New York Society of Play, every game has a lesson to offer. Through play, we hone social and problem-solving skills, as well as mathematical and textual literacy!
  • Our instructors are experts in the games they play and are committed to turning each game into a learning experience.
  • We strongly believe that play is for everyone. We offer game-based workshops for families, classmates, old friends, and new friends! Foster new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and come together with your loved ones.
  • Our classes and workshops currently take place over Zoom, offering a safe and convenient way to stay mentally active, and socially connected!
About New York Society of Play

Our Founders

Alioune has managed game-related children’s programming for more than ten years, during which time he established core programs for several after-school child-care organizations. His mission with the New York Society of Play is two-fold: (1) to help kids find a safe space in which to express themselves and pursue their interests and (2) to do so at affordable rates which make them accessible to children of all backgrounds. He has been a passionate fan of Pokemon since the beginning of the franchise and has extensive experience with competitive trading card games, and founded NYSoP to be the kind of organization which he would have liked to have access to when he was young.

Ellen grew up in Long Island, New York as a “second-generation gamer” of sorts. Raised on board games and role playing games taught by her father, she developed a taste for gaming early in life. Her background in fantasy and role play was further enhanced by D’Aulaires’ books of Greek and Norse myths, along with the writings of Jorge Luis Borges. After studying literature and foreign languages at NYU, she returned to her gaming roots. One of her main goals as Head of Operations for New York Society of Play is to make gaming more accessible, particularly for young girls, through the cultivation of a supportive, open-minded community.

Our Team

Ryan Jensen originally hails from Minnesota but currently makes his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with his wife and two boys, 5 and 8. He first started playing Dungeons and Dragons when he was eight years old though he didn’t become a Dungeonmaster until 2010. He has since run hundreds of sessions for kids and adults in several game systems.

Ryan generally runs a “sandbox”-style game, taking cues from his players in terms of where the story leads, what sorts of challenges they will face and what the emphasis of the games will be. He rarely runs pre-written adventures and things can get pretty wacky if that’s what his players want. He encourages fresh and fun roleplaying choices, creative applications of rules and situations which surprise, excite and move his players. But everything really comes down to making a great story together with a group of other people. Ryan truly enjoys DMing for kids because of how invested they get in the game and how fresh the game settings, rules and characters feel to them.

In addition to being a Dungeon Master in Dungeons & Dragons, Ryan has owned and operated his own events and portrait photography business in NYC (Ryan Jensen Photography) for almost twenty years, having previously received Masters and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in Acting from University of California at Irvine and Ithaca College respectively. His proudest moments have been his time as a stay at home dad with both his sons, working as an actor at The Utah Shakespearean Festival and having his performance photography work published in the New York Times.

Taylor Weston is our dungeon master from Minnesota. He has been running games of Dungeons and Dragons since 2016. His style is a healthy mix of modular preparation and improvisation with a focus on fun social encounters. Running DnD for kids is perfect for his style because of their immensely creative approach to handling conflicts. He is active in many creative pursuits including music composition, miniature painting, poker, and chess. He even toured the west coast for 7 years with a rock band. His favorite quote is by international chess master Joshua Waitzkin, “The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will brittle in the face of adversity!”

Marielle Maxwell lives in Brooklyn, New York. She’s been playing roleplaying games for ten long years and has run games in the private and professional setting for eight. Her DMing style is for those who prefer a roleplay driven, episodic adventure (or a grinding hack’n’slash!). She loves DMing for kids because of their wild creativity. Adults get so wrapped up in the real world, but kids can put aside those worries to focus on killing goblins. Her other hobbies include video games, writing, and long walks on the beach. She recently graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College with high honors.

James Gauvreau has spent over a decade in tutoring and child instruction, and has extensive experience in designing and writing game materials. He has recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Philosophy, and when he isn’t working with the New York Society of Play, James is writing reviews of academic papers and books and providing company to elderly folks by telephone so that they aren’t socially isolated while they’re social distancing.