Meaningful Play 2014

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Next year, October 16-18, 2014, the Meaningful Play Conference (MPC) returns to East Lansing, Michigan. MPC is an international game conference that Michigan State hosts biannually. This is the fourth one to grace the area, and offers a chance to bring in great researchers and designers from across the US and more. Interesting thinkers offer their time for other academics, game developers, and students.

MPC strives to bring in both, researchers and designers from academia and industry.  Our dual focus includes a deep emphasis on game design, with parallel game design and industry tracks alongside scholarly sessions. The result is an exciting and joyful celebration and coming together, with a flavor distinct from typical academic conferences. Bringing together these two groups, those who study meaningful play and those who make create it, nurtures engaging discussions and new collaborations.

Now, while serious games are part of the conference, meaningful play doesn’t necessarily equal serious games. The meaningfulness in meaningful play may stem from the experience of the player, the goals of the designers, or the heart of the creator, creative process and the critic.

“The emphasis of Meaningful Play is an important one. Meaningful Play games are focused. They don’t have to be serious though. What people come away with, even from a fun game, is something deeply meaningful. Something like Jason Rohrer’s work, like Passage. That is the galvanizing point of the conference.”

-Dr. Casey o’Donnell

For students, the conference provides an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with top academics and designers in the field. For Master’s and Ph.D students, there will be several opportunities to submit and present your own research and to connect with academics and industry professionals as you prepare to begin your own careers.  Because we only hold the conference every other year, the evolution of meaningful games can be seen in how the conference changes over time. In addition to a great gathering of individuals, ideas, and research, the conference also showcases meaningful games. Last year, 25 digital games and 5 non-digital games were selected from nearly 80 entries to be showcased at game night and during the conference. A panel of judges selected the most outstanding to win awards, such as “Most Meaningful” and “Innovation and Design.”

Game, paper, panel, poster, roundtable, and workshop submissions are currently being requested from researchers, designers, industry professionals, graduate, and advanced undergraduate students. If you’re interesting in submitting, please go to the meaningful play website for more detail on submissions and the conference itself.

Stay tuned as next year’s keynote speakers are announced!

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