Next week, we are proud to once again host the 2012 Meaningful Play International Academic Conference. This is an international convention for game makers, researchers and experts in game design. These aren’t your typical video games; these games are transforming the fields of health, education, social impact and citizen engagement in powerful ways. We have one of the top video gaming programs in the country here at MSU, so we can barely contain our excitement to bring national gaming superstars into our own backyard.
Wednesday is the kickoff with the 2012 Quello Lecture: “Designing and Researching Games for Impact: National Challenges, Local Initiatives” at the Kellogg Center. This lecture will feature Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin. Constance’s research is on cognition and learning in commercial entertainment games and games for impact. In 2011-12, she served as senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
On Thursday at the MSU Union, there are a plethora of amazing speakers and leaders in the gaming industry who will be keynote speakers at the conference. Donald Brinkman with Microsoft Games for Learning is the opening keynoter and will talk about “Structured Signifiers and Infinite Games: Serious Play for Lifelong Learning.” Alex Games with Microsoft Games (partnering with Sesame Workshop and National Geographic) will present “Researching Playful Learning in Two-Way TV.”
There are many other outstanding speakers on Thursday. The evening wraps up with a Game and Poster Night and conference reception featuring 40 digital games and six non-digital games. Participants can view the games and meet their creators.
Friday’s lineup includes Phaedra Boinodiris, who is the director of serious games at IBM. Boinodiris will be covering “Serious Games Beyond Training: From Process Optimization to Complex Problem.” Keith Brophy with IdeoMed will be discussing “Saving a Life Through Play: How Serious Games Can Help Manage Chronic Health Conditions,” exploring a game that helps patients suffering with asthma. Mary Flanagan from Dartmouth will be sharing “It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Loses a Bias,” talking about the psychology behind combatting stereotypes and biases through gaming. Kurt Squire from the University of Wisconsin will be closing Friday with “Transforming Public Participation in Science Through Games.”
On Saturday, John Ferrara will be sharing “Games for Persuasion: Augmentation, Procedurality, and the Life of Gamification.” Ferrara is the creative director at Megazoid Games and author of the new book, Playful Design. Michael Johns with EA Games/GlassLabs will also be a keynote speaker that you won’t want to miss.
These and so many other great leaders in the field of gaming will be on campus next week drawing hundreds of people to collaborate and explore the life-changing power of serious gaming and meaningful play. The conference is about theory, research and game design innovations, principles and practices. The purpose behind the conference is to better understand and improve upon games to entertain, inform, educate and persuade in meaningful ways.
The conference is limited to 300 registrants and is nearly sold out, but if you would like to register, you can do so here. If you’re unable to attend, be sure to follow the conference on Twitter and YouTube by searching #MP2012.
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