Meaningful Play 2014:  Get ready for radical transformation!

by Carrie Heeter

If you’re looking for answers to the challenges of racism, sexism, and video games: social justice campaigns and the struggle for gamer identity, you’ll find those answers embodied in the presenters and attendees of Meaningful Play 2014.  Lisa Nakamura begins the dialog with her preconference Quello Lecture and discussion Wednesday evening, October 15.

Meaningful Play MonsterIf you’re thinking Nakamura’s lecture is the only time such issues will be addressed at the conference, think again.  Opening keynote Mia Consalvo will discuss challenges such as marginalization of our work in game studies and an increasingly loud pushback against greater diversity. She’ll talk about moving forward and making play increasingly meaningful to all of us.

Megan Gaiser, one of the first female CEO’s in the game industry, will share her vision for contagious creativity and leadership.

Drew Davidson, head of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon will celebrate the creative chaos that emerges with a wide diversity of content experts.

Attendees will be treated to panels, papers, and roundtable discussions about affection games, empathy games, other people simulators, representing culture, community and identity, gender, inclusive game design, & gaming culture.  Don’t miss sessions on diversity, games for the blind, crowdsourcing games, online game fraud, and race/ethnicity/diaspora. And of course, games for learning, games for K-12, University games, and games for older adults. And much more.

Talks about meaningful play range from board games to VR to meditation.  You’ll play or hear about games for health, astronaut exergames, mental health games, mosquitoes, microbes, mathland, and surviving the zombie apocalypse; music games, calculus games, hero games, museum games, safe sex games, games to prevent violence against women, recycling games, Jewish culture games, saving money games, and making games…

  • Keynote Erin Hoffman, lead game designer at Glass Lab, will talk about how we can use gaming to critique and intervene in the systems of the world.
  • Keynote Deirdra Kai, indie game designer, will share their experience with breaking the rules of fun.
  • Keynote Colleen Macklin,  Director of PETLab (Prototyping Education and Technology Lab) and Associate Professor at Parsons The New School for Design, entices us to engage in the  act of making games as a radical practice.
  • Keynote Jan Sircus, Past-President of the Themed Attraction Association, Canada, and Principal of Studio Sircus, explains that “story helps us make sense of our world. It is an organizing tool and a form of interpretation. It is equally important in imaginary worlds as in the real world.”
  • Closing keynote Jesse Schell, head of Schell Games and Professor at the Entertainment Technology Center, shares his experiences with building educational games with multiple paths of transformation.

Join us for a meaningful, radical, transformative, playful conference.

October 16-18 at Michigan State University, plus the preconference Quello lecture open to the public Wednesday evening.

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