The (Virtual) Reality of the Meaningful 2016 Play Conference

Posted on: October 27, 2016

The Meaningful Play 2016 Conference ended as a huge success. The event spanned from October 20-22, with most of the activities taking place in MSU’s Union. The Department of Media and Information (specifically their GameDev faculty, staff, and students) is the proud founder and host of this event, which takes place every two years.

Geared toward gaming industry professionals, those in the world of academia and game researchers and developers, the event created an environment where attendees could come together to share and showcase their ideas. The goal of the conference is to decipher and improve upon the gaming community to influence the world in meaningful ways.img_1020edit

MSU alum and game developer, Xavier Durand-Hollis, shared how a large portion of this year’s conference revolved around the hot trend in the gaming world, virtual reality.

“Many speakers presented on the new gameplay experiences that augmented reality and virtual reality platforms offer, and what that means going forward for serious and non-serious games alike,” said Durand-Hollis.

Elizabeth LaPensée, assistant professor of Media and Information at MSU, was featured as a keynote speaker at the conference. As an Anishinaabe, Metis and Irish game developer and researcher, she offered a unique perspective to the conference.

LaPensée found the most beneficial aspect of the event to be “The convergence of academics, developers, and experts in many different areas makes Meaningful Play an exciting opportunity to reflect on your own work, better understand the role of playful experiences ranging from games of all forms to virtual reality, and connect for collaborations.”

Durand-Hollis added to this idea by saying how the conference always leaves him with a lingering desire to go out and make something, specifically directed toward developing for virtual reality.

Game designers and more gathered for the 5th annual Meaningful Play Conference at Michigan State University.

Game designers and more gathered for the 5th annual Meaningful Play Conference at Michigan State University.

The program coordinator of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology at MSU, Liz Owens Boltz, a second time attendee, revealed that Meaningful Play is one of the most inclusive conferences she has attended, with the organizers and participants remaining mindful of and encouraging diversity.

“Some of the best things about Meaningful Play are its scope and audience. Sessions tend to cross interdisciplinary boundaries and therefore encourage attendees to think outside of our traditional domains,” said Boltz.

While some attendees favored game exhibitions, Boltz loved the environment that so easily allowed her to meet, collaborate and learn with a group of talented and diverse people.

The conference draws in those in the world of academia and industry professionals on a global scale. The last conference attracted nearly 300 people from 17 countries and 24 U.S. States.

Despite this year’s Meaningful Play festivities having drawn to a close, MSU, the founder of the event, is proud to continue to host and encourage such an impactful conference.

By Lily Clark

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