Patrick Shaw is not only a faculty member at Michigan State University. With 15 years of industry experience, Mr. Shaw has worked on games such as Star Wars and The Sims. He is also an alumnus, with a Master’s in Digital Media and Technology that he received in 2008. Only a few years later, in 2011, was he employed at MSU, where, as an instructor of the video game summer camp, he created design challenges and games for kids to play. From there, Mr. Shaw taught several online courses and eventually became an integral part of the online serious games graduate certificate. But teaching isn’t Mr. Shaw’s only career.
In 2012, Mr. Shaw founded Triquetra Games, a small boutique game company specializing in creating serious games and entertainment games. Currently, they are working on their first entertainment game, Modabots, which aims to inspire young women to get into STEM fields. I got a chance to sit down with Mr. Shaw to discuss Modabots and its goals.
Modabots is a strategy simulation game where players can use robots to explore an alien world. By building and improving robots for different situations, players can solve problems or satisfy their curiosity in a procedural, randomized world. Mr. Shaw says it’s the “opposite of Minecraft. In Minecraft, you go out and customized the world to enable your creativity. We’re giving you a world and letting you focus on your team of robots in order to express your creativity and explore the world.” Continue reading
For the last six years, Michigan State University has hosted a variety of summer camps for middle and high school students that focus on a range of media and technology. This includes the game design camps, where students develop software and design skills in a college course adapted for middle or high school students.
Both, the middle and high school game design camps are one week long. Students can choose to commute, if they are from the local Lansing area, and attend summer camp from 9AM to 5PM. Students from elsewhere can also partake in a lodging option where they remain on campus overnight with chaperones and evening activities.
Amanda Krueger, program director and all around awesome person, met with me to discuss in detail just what really happens during the game design camp. Each week brings with it a new group of students, who may or may not have any experience with games. Amanda says “some have experience with games, like hacking Wii’s, creating mods, or some have no experience at all and just really like playing games.” This interesting dynamic makes putting together a game in one week a unique encounter every time. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Katrin is an incredibly accomplished person. She’s an expert in serious game design and analysis, has over 30 years of teaching experience in various disciplines, and has been published in several areas including computer science and digital game based learning. But Katrin isn’t just an extraordinary career woman; she also runs a small farm, raising several kinds of animals, including rabbits.
Katrin has always loved animals, living as a child above an animal hospital where her father worked as a veterinary assistant, and she’s loved rabbits for their efficiency and beautiful coats. In specific, she now breeds Rex rabbits, due to a calm temperament and remarkable coats, with many beautiful coat colors. Katrin says that as she “learned more about the genetics of coat colors, I became more interested in studying them. Many people in the fancy stick to only one or a very small number of colors when they breed, and there are sound reasons to do that, but I prefer to mix the colors and see what pops up.”
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.
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. Continue reading