Community Projects

Juul believes that there’s something missing from academic game studies.


We are beginning to understand that games are not static artifacts. Games are dynamically created and changed by the players who engage with them and the cultures within which they are played. Each play session is a completely different experience with different motivating factors and very different meanings.

Games can be: -rule based systems that you master - fictional worlds that you imagine - social phenomena that you play with other people - self-expressions that show who you are.

And there are this many different types of “meanings” at play in video games because 1) there is no authority for interpretation and 2) games are fundamentally ambiguous. Their experiences are re-authored with every iteration, with every player.

armyexperiencecenter Check out local news footage here. Seven people were arrested at a war protest in Northeast Philadelphia this early May at a $12 million military gaming center at a mall which uses simulators (a-la America's Army) to lure in potential soldiers at age 13 and up. So far the center has recruited twice as efficiently as rival, non-digital centers. “War is not a game!” "You can't simulate the heat. You can't you know the cries of people who are getting killed. You can't simulate the noise when things are exploding around you," said Jesse Hamilton, an Iraq War Veteran who served in the Army. The Army Experience Center presents the teenagers with video games in hopes that they might learn about life in the military. At least the Army believes games to be be educational!
UPDATE: Joe DeLappe of Dead in Iraq fame has produced a website for America's Diplomat, the America's Army replacement. Check it out here: America's Diplomat

Yesterday, thousands of New Yorkers received a morning jolt before even having their first sip of coffee. Volunteers around the city handed out free copies of a Special Edition New York Times that announced the Iraq War was over, a maximum wage law was passed, new federal spending would spread bike lanes across the nation, and dozens of other liberal fantasies. And, for the moral gamers out there, one headline read, "Popular “America’s Army” Video Game, Recruiting Tool Cancelled." There's even a fake NYT website to accompany the paper. You can go here and read the article, or in case the site's owners receive a cease and desist order, we'll reprint the article in full.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense announced yesterday the cancellation of its highly successful and popular “America’s Army” online game and recruitment tool. The program has already been converted into a new game, operated by the State Department, entitled “America’s Diplomat.” State Department spokesperson Donald Demsfold called this “a pretty good step towards nurturing a generation committed to the principles of diplomacy and peaceful negotiation.”

I am, I admit, a gloomy person, who spends a lot of time looking at the worst of the world. I am often saved, however, and made a little more hopeful, by the weirdness, creativity, and enthusiasm of kids. Today, in the midst of the financial storm clouds gathering around us, I was able to see some light at a meeting of the Connecticut Innovations Academy (CTIA). Every year, the Center for 21st Century Skills organizes an Innovation Challenge to bring together Connecticut teens from urban and suburban neighborhoods to collaborate on high tech projects. Last year, the Challenge was to build a video game in MIT’s Scratch program, and build a whole mock company, website, white paper, and marketing campaign to support it. The winners put together a great educational game, but participants complained that they didn’t have enough game design education. This year, the Challenge is basically the same except all game designs will be about environmental issues, organizational kinks have been worked out, and they have dozens of Grow A Game to help spark young imaginations. I went to the program’s first meeting this year to talk to 130-odd students about designing games with values in mind.

I love Massively Multiplayer Soba because it is simple and it works. In an academic paper, I might say the game explores tolerance and diversity by facilitating inter-cultural exchanges around regional cuisine. But really, Soba just gets strangers talking about food. We live in a country flayed by partisan divides, with too much time spent thinking about trivial differences. Even in New York where people from all over live side by side, it’s rare for us to take the time to interact with each other. But games give people excuses to be extroverts. And food is a universal passion. With Soba, we give strangers an excuse to discuss commonalities, and the results are just good.

This Saturday come join the Tiltfactor team at the 2008 Conflux Festival for the launch of our first urban game: Massively Multiplayer Soba. Participants will have the chance to explore some of the culinary/cultural mash-ups that make New York so unique. We'll be meeting new...

The VAP team, led by Dr. Mary Flanagan, will be heading to Pittsburg tomorrow night to rock the Future of Interactive Technology for Peace conference. Our team will be facilitating a Grow A Game workshop and a discussion about how and activists and media makers can use games as an expressive medium, and why they'd want to. Workshop members will also get the chance to experience how empowering and fun the game design process can be by playing with Grow A Game cards. Participants will learn how they can use critical play to develop innovative solutions. We have pictures from our workshop at the Grassroots Media Conference here. The Future of Interactive Technology for Peace April 2-3, 2008 Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania University Center The Future of Interactive Technology for Peace Conference (April 2&3, 2008) is a day and one-half day national conference providing a forum for discussing the impact and the potential that interactive technology holds for peace and peacemaking. Using the highly successful game "PeaceMaker" [] as a jumping-off point, the key aim of the conference is to explore new directions in the application of interactive technology for conflict resolution, diplomacy, and international affairs.
gmc.jpg via: Grassroots Media Coalition The Mainstream Media is a propaganda mind control operation owned by an elite cartel for the benefit of the global oligarchy. I wish that were hyperbole, but it isn’t. Luckily, alternative media, independent media, is going strong and growing every year. The annual Grassroots Media Conference is a chance for media activists to come together, compare notes, and stratagize. It’s always worth attending. This year, Tiltfactor Lab will be facilitating a game design workshop to help participants better understand how to analyze existing games and consciously embed values in their own games.
A possible problem lurking in every “educational” video game is the game’s inherent unfunness. An entry on Slashdot examines this idea.