Welcome! Seriously! Playfully!

The Telecommunication, Information Studies, & Media department at Michigan State University offers an undergraduate specialization in game design and development, an MA degree with concentration in HCI and emphasis on games and meaningful play, a PhD in Media and Information Studies, and a 3 course graduate certificate in serious games that can be completed on campus or fully online. The deadline for fall admission is June 1.

The Games and Meaningful Play group of faculty and students and the GEL Lab (Games for Entertainment and Learning) bring together diverse experts who design and study meaningful play and serious games.   Our motto is, CHANGE THE WORLD WITH US.  If you’re interested, we’d love to have you join us.

Serious Game Alumni Interview #7: Ziba Scott

Ziba Scott, owner and founder of Popcannibal, a game design company, chimes in this week as we continue delving into the interesting lives of alumni. With a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Chicago, and a “good deal of live theater along the way,” Scott graduated from MSU with a Masters in serious games. Reflecting on his coursework then, Scott finds it difficult to pick a favorite, due to all the different kinds of learning that took place in each. One year, his class game project, Crossroads Village even won “Most Meaningful Game” at the Meaningful Play conference.

“The classes I took gave me a lot of perspective about what it takes to work with people and ideas to really craft something intentionally designed and professionally executed.”

As a student volunteer for the international Meaningful Play conference hosted by MSU, Scott met  James Portnow, a game designer who has worked on a wide range of games, from the Call of Duty series to Farmville.. Scott recalls an interesting academic talk about exergaming by a student, Yoonsin Oh, and, while working at the conference registration desk, he got to check Robin Hunicke in to the conference, “which gave me something to chat with her about when I met her again years later. I talked with her about Elegy to a Dead World this year at her GDC session ‘Experimental Gameplay Workshop.’”
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Serious Game Alumni Interview #6: Becky Palmer-Scott


Last Wednesday, Becky Palmer-Scott joined TC830, Foundations of Serious Games as a serious game professional to critique student serious game pitches. Having graduated in 2011, Palmer-Scott remembers the course fondly, but has also grown immensely since her time as a student. However, she wasn’t always in the serious game design track. Becky has a degree in journalism from MSU, a minor in English literature, and a background in music, and for several years, she worked as a technical writer. After recognizing the need for learning games in schools, Palmer-Scott returned to graduate school to study serious games.

Back at MSU, Palmer-Scott made several serious games. In Search for Samhain, players learn about the beginnings and history of Halloween through a series of mini-games. Later, she created a board game, Roots of Power, to help players increase their vocabulary by learning about suffixes and prefixes, with a Greek twist. Palmer-Scott really enjoyed making games as a team, and once graduated, helped found a non-profit to develop, study, and encourage use of games for learning.
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Meaningful Play 2014 Announces First Two Keynotes

Colleen Macklin, game designer, Director of PETLab (Prototyping Education and Technology Lab) and Associate Professor at Parsons The New School for Design, will keynote at Meaningful Play 2014.

Colleen Macklin

Colleen Macklin

Colleen develops 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. She is a member of the game design collectives Local No. 12, known for their card game the Metagame 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.


Dominique Pamplemousse: A stop motion musical detective adventure game.

Dominique Pamplemousse: A stop motion musical detective adventure game.

Deirdra Kiai, game designer, writer, programmer, musician, and visual artist, has also agreed to keynote. Deidra was nominated for four awards at this year’s Independent Games Association awards. Their game, Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!” is a stop motion musical detective adventure game. Their #1ReasonToBe a game designer talk, “Making games is easy. Belonging is hard.” received a standing ovation at the Game Developers’ Conference last month.

The international Meaningful Play 2014 conference will be held October 16-18 in East Lansing, MI. Meaningful Play brings scholars and industry professionals together to understand and improve upon games to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade in meaningful ways.
http://meaningful play.msu.edu

Call for Submissions
Submissions are sought from both researchers and practitioners in academia and industry. Graduate students are also encouraged to submit either jointly with an academic/member of industry or alone.

Exercising in a Virtual Space with Social Exergames


Exercise is an activity that can be done either alone or in groups, but when we think of working out, it’s generally on an individual basis. Taiwoo Park, a postdoc researcher at KAIST university in Korea, spoke at MSU last week about social exergames. Park believes that the ideal form of exercise is group physical activity, for physical, recreational, and social benefits. Group sports are just natural. However, with busy schedules, most of the time we opt for simple, individual exercise, giving up social bonding and entertainment for the sole purpose of physical benefits. Park wants to return to group exercises by transforming individual exercises into group activities over a virtual space.
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Casey O’Donnell Rants About Teaching “Capstone” Course

Disclaimer: Game Developers Conference (GDC) “rants” are short, intense opinionated talks meant to be provocative, funny, and, most of all, spirited. They often take an extreme position, in order to provoke thought and conversation.

This past week, Dr. Casey O’Donnell delivered a rant over at GDC about teaching the capstone course. What is the capstone course? It’s the final class in the Game Design track here at MSU. Students are placed into teams of 6-8 and then paired with game company clients—such as Stardock, Scientifically Proven Entertainment, Kixeye or others—who work closely with the students. O’Donnell calls it “interning without interning.”

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? What’s the big issue?
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