Deconstructing Disneyland: An App-Based Media Literacy Experience

Monday, August 08, 2016 Comment Deconstructing Disneyland

If Pokémon Go marked the beginning of the era of mass-market Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), Deconstructing Disneyland may mark the beginning of ARGs as mobile media literacy education tools. Media scholars, game designers, technologists, educators, and students at Brigham Young University are finishing an “immersive mobile app that encourages users to critically engage with the popular theme park, expanding their media literacy skills while enhancing their Disney experience.” associate professor of design Brent Barson, student Chris Bowles, associate professor of media arts Jeff Parkin, and assistant professor of media arts Benjamin Thevenin plan to present their

The Secret Sauce in Pokémon Go: Big Data

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Comment Pokemon Go screen shots

Unless you’ve been holed-up in a cave playing Minecraft, you’ve heard about (and possibly even played) the new augmented reality (AR) mobile game sweeping the globe, Pokémon Go. For sure, AR can be exciting and compelling, when properly designed, offering us an experience of co-presence with a virtual character or object. And, it’d be understandable if you attributed Nintendo’s success to its use of the AR camera. But, you’d be wrong. The game’s AR succeeds, in fact, because it turned big data into a game. With Pokémon Go, we are offered the opportunity to pretend our

Watchworthy Wednesday: The Minecraft Effect

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 Comment minecraft fortress

Minecraft, the Lego-like building video game, is such a massive hit that the New York Times Magazine recently made it the subject of a cover story. What makes the game such a global sensation is its power to encourage an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) — those pesky fields that Americans don’t seem to be able to conquer. U.S. students lag behind 34 other countries in math and behind 26 countries in science, according to a Pew Research Center study. “The game encourages kids to regard logic and if-then statements as fun things

How Games Transform Museum Experience

Monday, October 12, 2015 Comment group of students playing computer games at museum

Officially, James Collins is the Digital Media Project Manager at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, working across all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo. But, to me, as someone deeply interested in how games can transform museum visitor experiences, he’s the right guy in the right place at the right time. His email sig reads “Games are a series of interesting choices.” Yup, the guy I want to speak with. I ran into James recently at the Serious Play Conference in Pittsburgh and we sat down to explore his

Designed Equity: Reflection on Youth-focused Game Jam in South Central LA

Thursday, June 18, 2015 Comment young black student making a game out of posters and crafts in classroom

In his concluding remarks during his DML 2015 session, “Designing Classroom Equity: Connected Learning and Co-Designed Research from Across the National Writing Project,” DML Conference Committee member and Columbia University Professor Ernest Morrell noted: “Technologies are tools; love is a foundation; humanity is the end.” Dr. Morrell’s note pushes educators to move beyond an idolization of digital gadgetry and think purposefully about what work related to connected learning looks like in sustained execution. To this extent, while I spent most of the last week in downtown Los Angeles basking in the inspired scholarship on display at

Game Impact: New Report on Field Cohesion

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Comment different ages of kids using phone and ipad to learn and play games

After more than a decade, the field of social impact games may be mature enough to step back and investigate how “impact” is understood. To start the conversation, Games for Change has released a new report, published by ETC Press. (The report was co-authored by myself, Nicole Walden, Gerad O’Shea, Francesco Nasso, Giancarlo Mariutto and Asi Burak.  Our advisory group included game scholars and designers like Tracy Fullerton, Debra Lieberman and Constance Steinkuehler.) Right now may be an inflexion point in the evolution of games in the public interest — from civic learning to fighting asthma.

Looking Ahead to Games for Change

Thursday, March 19, 2015 Comment table of small kids playing games working together on ipads

Growing to the thousands of attendees and general public that will encounter the games, ideas, and fun that are a part of this year’s Games for Change Festival hasn’t been easy. Asi Burak, president of Games for Change reflected on the growth that the organization and the movementhas experienced over the past decade. Emphasizing Action As an academic, so much of my time at conferences is spent either presenting to a largely passive audience or quietly consuming (or daydreaming) other people’s panels, lectures, and posters. Sure, the conference space can be enlivened through engaging activity and digital dialogue, butconferences are places I spend a lot

IndieCade, Part 2: Anxieties About GamerGate

Thursday, November 13, 2014 Comment 2 sony video game controllers

The so-called “GamerGate” controversy about the independent games movement, which has finally reached the pages of the New York Times, has become the big story this fall. I have provided a wrap-up of some of the issues in a blog posting for those who can use a #GamerGate 101. Every celebrity from Joss Whedon to Adam Savage seems to have weighed in with an opinion. There also have been more interesting responses from within the independent games movement, including from Polygon’s Christopher Grant and from Frank Lantz, director of the NYU Game Center.    Because hostilities to the

Wolf Sharks, Energy Drinks and Learning Standards: Reflections from White House Education Game Jam

Thursday, September 11, 2014 Comment young boy playing computer game in classroom computer lab

It’s 6:30 Sunday morning and the loft-like space that houses the educational software company Difference Engine echoes the metronome like taps of a ping pong ball flying across the table. It’s not clear how much the Rovio team members (the trio from Finland that were partly responsible for unleashing Angry Birds upon the world) have slept, but their energy has yet to slow as they move steadily into hour 20 of intense programming. This is what happens when you throw a bunch of game developers and educators in a room and encourage them to make better,

Making Sense of Games, Gaming Culture Knowledge

Thursday, April 10, 2014 Comment shadow outline of gamer with head phones on

I am carrying out a piece of work, exploring how young people imagine, develop interests in, and work toward becoming employed in a range of digital creative industries. I am interviewing a number of young people who are studying game design or various kinds of computer programming as well as those informally engaged in maker communities or other kinds of coding clubs, festivals and initiatives. Part of my interest is in the kinds of identity work that young people engage in as they begin to define themselves as the sorts of people who might work in