Mauricio Giraldo, a designer in the New York Public Library Labs, made a video game using some of the library’s own collections of public domain materials, and the institution is hoping you’ll follow.
In Giraldo’s game, Mansion Maniac, you control Pac-Man-esque, pixelated character, guiding through real, early-century floor plans of New York City homes and apartments. As you move from room to room, the game will automatically load and attach more of these authentic, historical layouts to the luxurious world, and when you’re done, you can save and print out the floorplan to show all your friends that New York apartments have always been very small.
Giraldo’s Mansion Maniac is just one project created as an illustration for the variety of ways programmers and artists could use NYPL’s digital resources.
As the CUNY Games Festival draws ever closer we’ve got a couple of updates and extras to announce!
Our registration deadline has been extended to January 1, 2014. If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, head over to the conference website to do so.
We’ve secured a spot for our game day on January 18: the Richard Harris Terrace at BMCC. Find more info about Festival locations on our website.
We’re putting the final touches on the schedule for the conference on January 17, and will post details on the conference website as soon as we can. We’re delighted to feature a full day of presentations, shorts, posters, and arcade demos — titles of the accepted proposals are listed below, and there’s sure to be something for everyone interested in game-based learning in higher education.
The conference day will conclude with a plenary session featuring a diverse panel of scholars and game designers: John Black (Teachers College, Columbia University), Robert Duncan (York College, CUNY), Joey Lee (Teachers College, Columbia University), Anastasia Salter (University of Baltimore) and Eric Zimmerman (New York University).
Hope to see you there!
CUNY Games Festival accepted conference proposals
Choices in Games
Play as an Invitation to Learn: Teaching Grammar with Games
Beyond the Multiplayer Classroom: Story
Journaling the Zombie Apocalypse: Minecraft in College Composition
Cool School: Where Conflict Resolution is Fun
Adventures in Writing: Composition, Pedagogy, Video Games, and a Lot of Questions
Virtual Field Trips in Health Education
Designing Futures with Games: Game-Framed Math & Science at Hostos Community College
Fun and Usable: Making Better, More Intuitive Games
World of Warcraft: Experiencing Reality in a Virtual World
Teaching With Toons: Digital Avatars as Information Seeking Tools
Using Indie Games to Teach Ethics
From Game Player to Job Search Pro
Using Meaningful Gamification and Playful Design instead of Rewards for the Classroom
What Can Chess Teach Us About Sociology?
Teaching Fiction Writing Using Role-Playing Games
The Transformative Games Initiative: Learning by Design
The Education Arcade
Iterative Design and Implicit Bias: What we learned from making FairPlay.
It’s How You Play the Game: What Playtesting Taught Us about Game Design
Teaching the Art & Sound of Video Games across Two Disciplines
The Instrumentality of Virtuality: The Perceived Real-World Value of Video Gaming
The Integrated Problem Set: An Example of Social Science Gaming
Entertainment Games for Education: Self-Motivated Education and EVE Online
Meta Modding: Brainstorming Card Games for Pedagogical Purposes
What’s in a Game?: Teaching Online and Face-to-Face Composition Classrooms with Game-Based Pedagogies
Rules and Rhetoric: Unfair Games in the Composition Classroom
Liminal Space Between Fun and Educational Impact: A Post Mortem
Geolocation and Fear: Horror on the Ridges
Video Games as Feminist Pedagogy
The Challenges of Developing an Educational Board Game: Balancing Content and Gameplay
Playing Together: Teamwork in Online Games
Game Design as Life Design: A Deck of Cards
Marriage Equality in Games: What Are Games Teaching Us?
Using a Card Game to Teach Circuits
Games and the Re-play of Gameplay: Rendering Deleuzian Memory
The Role of Video Game Glitch in Emancipated Learning and New Literacy Acquisition
Playing to Learn: Games, Engagment, and Deep Learning in Higher Education
Developing Game-Based Learning (GBL) Apps
“Choose Your Own” Fairy Tales? Electronic Literature and Game-Based Learning
Gold Stars & Badges
From Cool School to CEDARIA: What Teens Can Learn from Kids About Gaming
Analyzing Procedural Learning and Emotion Recognition in Children using Serious Games
Computational Thinking Via Visual Game Coding
iSketch: A Digital Art Therapy Game to Improve Self-Esteem
Lerpz Behaves: A Game to Teach Applied Behavioral Analysis
Unbiased: A Game to Reduced Errors in Cognitive and Social Biases
Saving Mikey: A Digital Games to Educate At-Risk College Students About Depression
Critical Thinker: A Digital Game that Teaches Critical Thinking Skills to College Freshman
Restaurant Rockstar: A Digital Game that Teaches Student How to Read Nutritional Fact Labels
Using a Board Game to Teach Students About Divided Attention
Improving Decision Making for Extreme Prospects Using a Board Game
Monster Appetite: To Eat or Not To Eat, That Is the Question
Murder Mystery Challenge! Engaging First-Year Students in a Game-Based Library Investigation
A Language Learning App for International Students Preparing for Higher Education in the U.S.
The Game of College
Project CONST∆NT: A Gesture-Based Game That Teaches Calculus
Stellar Chemist: A Work in Progress
Mind Reader and Forty Eight
Government in Action
Off the Page, Onto the Classroom Stage: Discoveries Through Play with Text and Language
Tl;dr–if you’re at all interested in game design and can attend only one conference a year, make Practice that conference.
The Practice conference began as all conferences should. With Breakdancing.
Because, as we learned from Susanna Liu’s presentation, Breakdancing is competitive; it has procedures and rules; within the confines of those rules, B-boys and -girls constantly innovate, push boundaries, surprise and delight the audience with their creativity and skill. In short, it shares a great deal in common with sports. With games.
The conference is now three years old, and every year it has included some “outsider” element, some practitioner on the fringes of game design. The first year of the conference, it was a representative from the National Football League discussing American football rules; last year, an expert on military wargames discussed their design. They approach the problem of game design not for its own sake, but in the service of a highly specific goal–professional sports, military training, the underground dance scene. They’re never hung up on philosophical logorrheic game-designer doubletalk. These folks have their own agenda to which, through a loose and practical series of experiments, they arrive at the mechanics they need. They’re not brought in as novelties. These folks are the real deal, and the attendees know it.
What defines Practice for me is its catholic approach to the problems of game design. The conference’s ethos, as I read it, is this: we don’t care where you come from, we just want you to show us how you work. So sure, breakdancers rub shoulders with the likes of game-design gurus like Warren Spector. One presenter will bash dependence on narrative in one talk, but later they’ll be a panel led by interactive narrative archon Emily Short and the writers of The Walking Dead gleefully discussing how narrative their games are. Have a look for yourself at the schedule and see just how varied the presentations were. It’s a definite Practice hallmark.
I didn’t hear a bad talk all weekend, a statement I can’t make about any other conference I’ve ever attended. Ever. Even those less skilled in the art of oration still had much to offer in terms of the content of their presentations, and the appreciative crowd was sure to ask them excellent post-talk questions to help bring out the best in them. Credit goes to NYU Gamecenter Director Frank Lantz, Eric Zimmerman, and the able Practice planning team for the careful curation of the speakers.
That said, some speakers were just outstanding. Rob Daviau, formerly of Hasbro, spoke of how he more or less reinvented the game Risk by allowing players to make permanent changes to the board over a campaign mode that lasts for 15 games. His insights into how to enlist players to help you balance a game while they are playing were by themselves worth the price of admission. Davin Pavlas and Morgan Kennedy (who work on League of Legends and Assassin’s Creed, respectively) provided detailed analyses of how they assess player response to specific aspects of their games. Pavlas struck a particular chord with me when he stated that raw data do not interpret themselves; they have to be responsibly curated and tended to, lest they be manipulated in ways that can be counterproductive. Hear that, CUNY assessment?
But to my mind, LARPers Cecilia Dolk & Martin Ericsson stole the show. You see, Live-Action Roleplaying (LARPing) carries a pretty big stigma, in no small part because of this video, whose infamy continues to color people’s perceptions. But if LARPing were thought of more in the ways Dolk and Ericsson presented it, I have trouble imagining it wouldn’t have a huge following. Their presentation centered on showing what it took to host their weekend-long, Battlestar Galactica–themed LARP, Celestra 2.0. Dolk and Ericsson (and hundreds of other volunteers) took over a real battleship in Gothenburg, Sweden, fitted it with Arduino computers and authentic-looking props, and created a 72-hour live-action roleplay experience that benefited as much from improvisation techniques as it did from more traditional LARPing battle systems. In the mean time, they discussed how different LARPing is across the pond than it is presented to us here in the States, how much more character-driven and drama-inspired it is, and how many genres other than fantasy are represented in it (including good old realism).
You want to know how to LARP? This is how you LARP:
Maybe Practice’s most unique element is its “Open Problems” session. Designers, from NYU students to professionals in the industry, pose a specific design problem they are having with a game they’re working on to the audience and solicit suggestions and ideas for addressing it, all in five minutes per presenter. It’s a frenetic and raucous session where the emphasis is more on quantity of responses than quality. But, at least to my ear, a good deal of quality tends to emerge: because game design always benefits from applying multiple brains to a problem. It’s also a great time just to see all the ambitious game projects the audience members are working on.
Practice is technical; it’s about the details of design, the unglamorous guts. Some of the most-respected, most innovative designers in the world go on stage and catalogue the frustrating design process they had to endure to arrive at the game that got them to the stage in the first place. I imagine many people would be bored by Practice’s gleeful obsession with the minutiae of gamemaking.
Fine. They’re not the target audience. They’re not gamemakers. They can’t be, almost by definition.
What Practice does best of all is represent how games really get made. Maybe there isn’t another discipline in academia that is so willing to embrace situational ethics as is the field of game design, but that’s only because holding on to precious notions of right and wrong will lead to less-realized systems. It if works, keep it; if not, dump it; and if you don’t know, take a look around and get novel solutions from everywhere you can. And if you’re a little too pleased with your game-design pedigree to take lessons from, say, the breakdancing scene, you’re impoverishing your games before you finish them, says Practice.
And I concur.
Educators coming together to explore how the principles of games promote learning