Games and Transmedia Innovator David Wheeler to Direct Media Sandbox

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David Wheeler

The games and meaningful play group at Michigan State University is delighted to welcome our newest faculty member, David Wheeler, a game and film industry professional known for his innovative games and transmedia interactive experiences. Wheeler has worked as writer, director,  and content director for several game and interactive movie titles including Medal of Honor, Ghost Busters, World in Conflict, Tender Loving Care, Point of View, 50 Cents, The Bourne Conspiracy, Timeshift, F.E.A.R., and The 11th Hour.

The Media Sandbox welcomes Wheeler as its new director, responsible for leading what is both an integrated digital media arts curriculum and an ever-growing community of students and faculty. Now in its third year, Media Sandbox enrollment has grown from 750 in its first year to more than 3,500 this semester, with students participating from across the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Media Sandbox students learn all aspects of digital media arts as the entrée to becoming global communicators. Some Media Sandbox students in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media go on to earn MSU’s undergraduate specialization in Game Design and Development, and pursue careers in the game industry.

Wheeler’s passion to create innovative, meaningful experiences that expand and redefine the nature of traditional media will be an inspiration to fellow faculty and students in games and meaningful play. Michigan State University is unusual in its focus on game design, serious game design (games that are created with a goal of changing the world) and game research. These related interests and expertise foster collaboration and fuel innovation on the part of faculty and students at all levels.

As for the future, Wheeler envisions a world of interactivity. Through one of his many mediums—games—he wants to reach people on a different level, past what traditional movies and games produce today. Wheeler hopes to engage people beyond these genres, and create narrative based games that are emotional, based on choices and deeply set in story. By increasing exposure to interactivity, Wheeler aims to impact the world through innovative ideas, such as psychological feedback, as employed in Tender Loving Care, where the player’s choices impact the story.

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A screenshot from Tender Loving Care depicting an example question for the player.

There are infinite possibilities for the future of games, Wheeler says. In order to get beyond just the core gamers and introduce meaningful innovative forms of interactivity into the mainstream, a breakthrough in the industry must occur. As we wait, Wheeler is excited to enter academia as a new, different space from industry. In his new multi-discipline role, Wheeler will wear many hats 24 hours a day, tapping into his vast experience and passion for innovation to share with his students. Expect much from Mr. David Wheeler, who has already been an influential contributor to the evolution of media as we know it. We are proud to welcome him into the Michigan State community!

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