From Kitchen Disasters to PlayCollective: Serious Game Alumni Interview #2 with Rosalie Dunlap

PlayCollective is a global strategy, research, and product group. Their focus includes creating positive impacts on kids and family using all kinds of products, from digital media like games, apps, and websites, to traditional platforms like toys, board games, or even playgrounds, all built to enhance learning. Rosalie Dunlap, one of our serious game alumn, is a part of this worthy mission.

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As Director of Curriculum & Design, Rosalie takes part in “developing interactive products that make use of traditional educational pedagogy in a way that is more appropriate for the platform, target audience, product goals, and IP.” She oversees and participates in several parts of the process, which includes defining the over goals of the product, developing an educational pedagogy, designing the product, consulting producers and developers throughout the process, formative testing, and summative evaluation.

With more than 70 global clients and partners and lots of projects going on at once, all at different stages, Rosalie has been part of the development team of many great projects. She has created positive impact products for kids and families on topics such as STEM, financial literacy, health and wellness, social/emotional skills, pre-K to 12th grade education, and much more. She’s gained experience working with several types of clients including Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Hasbro, and PBS kids, and also non-profits like Head Start and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Reflecting on the serious game graduate certificate, Rosalie believes it “provided me with relevant knowledge and skills needed for the industry, but more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to gain experience in related fields before I graduated.” During the program, Rosalie attended the first ever Meaningful Play Conference, where she met Allison Bryant, who worked at Nickelodeon at the time and later founded PlayCollective. This led to an internship at Nickelodeon and later a position at the new company.

Before earning her MA in Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University with a certification in serious games, Rosalie was a teacher, but she didn’t feel like this career was the best fit for her. She really wanted to do something to benefit kids, and started looking around, at child development research or psychology, and then she found MSU’s serious game design program.

“I found the MSU serious game design MA program, and since I really saw how powerful technology was with my students and what impacts it could have, especially a well-designed product, that’s what I decided to do.”

Rosalie really enjoyed all of her classes, and says she “learned a lot from them all and felt that they prepared me well for the industry.” Her favorite class included a semester long project where she and her classmates created a game called Kitchen Disasters to teach about safe food handling in restaurants. She laughed as she explained that all the work she had completed in the program somehow managed to revolve around food, which directly prepared her for her future job and some of the food-related projects. (Her MA project involved helping to invent and conduct user experience research for Move & Match, a motion-detection game for kids to learn about USDA food pyramid categories.)

“The serious game certificate changed my life!”

When I asked about MSU, Rosalie enthusiastically mentioned her plans to return, hopefully for the next Meaningful Play Conference in 2014. As for advice, Rosalie says current serious game students should “get as much experience as you can while you’re in school; do an internship at a company related to your interests, do a side project on your own, go to conferences and network, network, network!”

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SAVE THE DATE!

The Games and Meaningful Play 2014 conference will be held October 16 to 18, 2014 on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Michigan.  Save the Date!  Web site, announcements, and calls for participation coming soon.  (Hint: 2014 will be the year of the meaningful play wizard!)

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