Civic Media Session: "Civic Games" | MIT Center for Civic Media
Colleen Macklin, Liz Lawley, Scot Osterweil
Game design is developing very rapidly, and insights, tools, and practices from gaming are increasingly integrated across different areas of life, leading to talk of the 'gamification' of everything -- including civic media.
This session brings together innovative game designers, theorists, and activists in a conversation about the possibilities of and challenges for civic games. Independent game designers, networks like Games for Change, and perhaps even major industry players are moving towards linking gameplay with realworld civic actions. What is the state of play, and what is coming just over the horizon? In theorizing and developing civic games, what can we learn from games with civic content -- as texts, processes, and points of community engagement? How can we understand game design itself as civic engagement, as communities become not only game players but increasingly also design, mod, develop, and critique games?
Colleen Macklin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and Director of PETLab (Prototyping Evaluation, Teaching and Learning /Lab), focused on developing games for experimental learning and social engagement. PETLab projects include a curriculum in game design for the Boys and Girls Club, a set of statistical games for the Red Cross Climate Centre, and big games such as Re:Activism and the "fiscal" sport Budgetball, which is played every year on the national mall in Washington, DC, by college students and members of the legislative and executive branch. She is a member of the game design collectives Local No. 12 and The Leisure Collective. Her work has been shown at Come Out and Play, SoundLab, The Whitney Museum for American Art and Creative Time. BFA, Media Arts Pratt Institute, graduate studies in Computer Science, CUNY and International Affairs, The New School.
Elizabeth Lawley is a Professor of Interactive Games & Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she also runs the Lab for Social Computing. In addition to teaching classes on game design, web development, and online identity & community, she produced Rochester's city-wide alternate reality game "Picture the Impossible" with the local newspaper, and is currently working on "Just Press Play", a gaming layer for student success targeted at students in RIT's Interactive Games & Media program. She speaks regularly at conferences ranging from the Game Developers Conference to Internet Librarian and runs an annual symposium on social computing for Microsoft Research that brings together academics and industry professionals in the field. She maintains a personal blog at mamamusings.net, and also blogs for the virtual worlds weblog Terra Nova. She has a M.S. in Library Science from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Information Science from the University of Alabama.
Scot Osterweil is the Creative Director of the MIT Education Arcade and a research director in the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. He is a designer of award-winning educational games, working in both academic and commercial environments, and his work has focused on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects. He has designed games for computers, handheld devices, and multi-player on-line environments. Scot is the creator of the acclaimed Zoombinis series of math and logic games, and leads a number of projects in the Education Arcade, including Vanished: The MIT/Smithsonian Curated Game (environmental science), Labyrinth (math), Kids Survey Network (data and statistics), Caduceus (medical science), and iCue (history and civics). He is a founding member, and Creative Director of the Learning Games Network where he leads the Hewlett Foundation’s Open Language Learning Initiative (ESL).