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I'm an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at City University of New York, with joint appointments in Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience. I also have an appointment as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. My research interests include cognitive neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, glaucoma, neurodegenerative disorders, attention, learning, memory, educational technology, pedagogy, and developing games for education.

Summary and Review of the 2017 Games for Change Festival

EdSurge news recently published a summary of the 2017 Games for Change Festival that happened in New York City this week. Please follow the link below for the full article. I’ve attended G4C for several years now, and my experience has waxed and waned as the conference has shifted its focus from year-to-year. Without going into great detail, I’ll list a few of what I see as the PROs and CONs of the conference. I know it might sound like a rant, but I’m really hoping conference organizers will find better ways to facilitate growth in the field. Speaking of which, don’t forget to sign up for the CUNY Games Conference!

PROs

  1. The conference started with an invitational VR Brain Jam associated with the VR for Change Summit, where neuroscientists were paired randomly with game development teams to create an experience for virtual reality. This was the absolute highlight of the conference, and I’m hoping that conferences will shift their focus away from traditional lectures to active problem solving sessions. The Learning Sciences have demonstrated that this format is effective in the classroom, so why don’t we apply it to our own conferences?  Even the National Science Foundation summits have highly focused problem solving sessions that culminate in products for the general community (e.g., CIRCL Center’s Cyberlearning primers). [Attached is a brief slideshow of our project. Keep in mind we only had 48 hours to develop the project and 2 minutes to present to the group. It was also the first time anyone from the team had attempted networked multiplayer gaming.]
  2. There were new and interesting tracks. It was interesting to compare the approaches and developments between orthogonal fields like neurogaming and journalism.
  3. There was a contingent of talented neuroscientists at the conference. While there may have been some psychologists and neuroscientists at previous conferences, this was the first year I recognized people from the mainstream (i.e., people I new in the field, people I might also run into at the annual meeting for the Society for Neuroscience, or people who had a deep knowledge of the scientific literature). Acknowledging that they are also socio-cultural experiences, we can’t forget that games are primarily psychological experiences, and learning is ultimately a physiological process. The scientists that came to the festival this year brought a much needed perspective on perception, attention, learning, emotion, methodology, and analysis.
  4. I didn’t participate in the format, but the “speed dating for devs” seemed to be a really great way of making connections and amplifying the network.
  5. There were good opportunities for networking between sessions.
  6. There were some great keynote speakers (see the EdSurge article).

CONs

  1. There continues to be a lack of data, solid research methodologies, or even an attempt to measure the impact, efficacy, or scaleability of games for change. I’m not a fan of trial-and-error, particularly when important/timely solutions are needed or taxpayer money is used. Games for Change has always felt like a cheerleading session for me, but I’m not alone. The developers I spoke with didn’t get much from the talks either. Most wanted more technical details, emphasis on innovations, and discussions about things that didn’t work in the production pipeline.
  2. While there were many great keynote speakers, there were also many that fell flat. The absence of key figures in the field was noticeable.
  3. Everything ran late.
  4. There was never enough food, and the food options weren’t great. I’d pay a little more to bring in vendors.
  5. There was way too much room allocated to the keynotes and not nearly enough for the breakout sessions.

Has the Game Really Changed? Notes From the 2017 Games for Change Festival | EdSurge News

CUNY Games Conference 4.0: CFP Announcement

Our Call for Proposals is now open! Proposals are due on November 1, 2017. Please forward far and wide!

The CUNY Games Network of the City University of New York is excited to announce The CUNY Games Conference 4.0: The Interactive Course to be held on January 22 and 23, 2018 at the Graduate Center and the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City.

The CUNY Games Conference is a two-day event to promote and discuss game-based pedagogies in higher education. The first day of the conference focuses on interactive presentations, and the second day consists of low-key game design, playtesting, and game play.

Game-based pedagogy incorporates some of the best aspects of collaborative, active, and inquiry-based learning. With the growing maturity of game-based learning in higher education, the focus has shifted from whether games are appropriate for higher education to how games can be best used to bring real pedagogical benefits and encourage student-centered education. The CUNY Games Network is dedicated to encouraging research, scholarship, and teaching in this developing field. We aim to bring together all stakeholders: faculty, researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and game designers. Both CUNY and non-CUNY participation is welcome.

The conference theme is composed of two broad goals:

  • To invent, explore, and learn to effectively use Game-Based Learning (GBL) to address higher educational goals.
  • To advance understanding of how to create rigorous interactive classroom learning activities, including methods, examples, and assessments, since well-developed learning activities share similar attributes to games.

To meet these goals, proposals should aspire to address the following three areas:

  • Innovation: In what way did you invent a new type of GBL or improving existing GBL for higher education? What new applications of GBL were developed to foster and assess learning? In what new ways was GBL integrated with other teaching methods to foster and assess learning?
  • Advancing understanding of how people learn in GBL learning environments in higher education: How does your work enhance understanding of how students learn in GBL environments that offer new opportunities for learning? How does your work lead to a better understanding of how to foster and assess learning in GBL environments?
  • Promoting broad use and transferability of GBL: How does your work inform the design and use of GBL across disciplines, populations, and learning environments in higher education?

All proposals must have a clear and explicit relevance to higher education.

The conference will feature the following session formats:

Arcade game demos and posters

We encourage everyone to consider bringing something to showcase at our arcade this year, which will be given its own time and space separate from the presentations. The arcade area will feature posters and games (finished or in progress), gamecasting videos, and more. We also especially encourage participation by undergraduate researchers.

30-minute interactive presentations

Reserved for interactive presentations only, such as workshops and live demonstrations. Interactive learning components should comprise at least 15 minutes of the presentation.

10-minute short presentations

Short talks that briefly discuss theories, research, practice, or individual games, including game-like interactive learning activities.

Presenters are encouraged to apply for both the arcade and a presentation. Please submit each separately.

Your proposal must include: session format; contact information for the corresponding presenter; name, affiliation, and email address for each additional presenter; title, 250-word abstract; a paragraph on connections to higher education; keywords selected from a list on the submission form; and special requests (e.g., scheduling or equipment needs). Please proofread and edit your proposal before submission. Accepted proposals will be published in our conference proceedings.

Panel Proposals: We also invite panel submissions for three or more speakers. Please submit one proposal for the entire panel. Innovative panel ideas are encouraged!

Submit a Proposal!

ESA Publishes 2016 Computer & Video Game Industry Report

The Entertainment Software Association has published it’s 2016 report on usage of computers and video games. As the preface to the report states “The study is the most in-depth and targeted survey of its kind, gathering data from more than 4,000 American households. Heads of households and the most frequent gamers within each household were surveyed about their game play habits and attitudes.”

 

Follow the link below to download a free copy of the report:

Source: Entertainment Software Association | 2016 Essential Facts About The Computer And Video Game Industry