Migration Without Boundaries

So last weekend I helped run Migration Without Boundaries, an interdisciplinary graduate conference on migration. This was the culmination of months of work by other, more involved people on the organizing committee. I basically just did troubleshooting and did tech stuff. I don’t actually study migration, although I find it fascinating and fully understand why so many of my colleagues do, so I didn’t submit a paper or chair a panel, but I might submit something next year.

Friday and Saturday where very intellectually stimulating, and reminded me of the things that I like about academia. Which, frankly, is everything but the job market, really. But meeting interesting scholars and having interesting conversations has always been really rewarding for me. Everyone telling me how interesting my own research is was nice too.

So Friday and Saturday were super busy, and Sunday, when I usually write posts at the last minute, I woke up with a migraine, which is why I missed the update on Monday. This has kind of been a terribly stressful semester, super busy in general, and very taxing, which has left me scrambling to get posts up at the last minute usually. Kind of caught up to me this week, but oh well.

Serious Game Design

Serious game design refers to utilizing game design for education, activism, and the like. Games designed to teach players about history, or to get them to exercise (under the guise of, say, a video game), for example. The telecommunications department at Michigan State University (where I’m working on a master’s degree in history) offers a graduate certificate in serious game design, which I’ve been interested in for a while now.

Because, much to my surprise, I was offered a teaching assistantship for this (my last) semester in the history department, I suddenly have the money (and more importantly, the tuition waiver) to be able to afford the three courses required for the certificate. Two are offered this fall, “Theories of Games and Interaction for Design,” and “Understanding Users,” and one in the spring, “Foundations of Serious Games.”

I’m excited about these classes, partly because coursework where I learn more about designing games just sounds awesome, but also because I’m confident that these courses will make me a better game designer. As should be clear from the Mission Statement and People sections of the website, I’m pretty dedicated to making my games inclusive, and I have some activist and education interests of my own. ¬†At this point, I’m not sure what kind of “serious” games I’ll be making, although I do know that my games will embrace my feminist and anti-racist ideals in their art, at least, and that my games will be designed to be as inclusive as possible to players of different abilities.

With my training in history, I would like to make some historical games in the future; games that either present history accurately, or use a fictionalized past to introduce players to broad (or narrow) historical concepts. Part of serious games is making “edutainment” actually entertaining, and not simply strong-arming people into learning with a “game” that isn’t fun or particularly game like. At this point, I’m content to use the courses to learn as much as I can about game design, and make my games the best that they can be, regardless of how strong an educational or activist theme they might have.