American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Game On!

Published February 5, 2014
Carlos Hernandez (Borough of Manhattan Community College) giving opening remarks at the CUNY Games Festival, held at the CUNY Graduate Center, January 17, 2014.

The first annual CUNY Games Festival, January 17-18, 2014, was a terrific success. One of the first academic conferences to explore game-based learning (GBL) in higher education, the two-day event attracted almost 200 registrants. Participants included faculty and students from 10 CUNY schools and dozens of universities and colleges across the country, along with game developers and other representatives from non-profit and for-profit technology sectors.

The first day of the conference, held at the CUNY Graduate Center, featured a full slate of presentations, “shorts,” posters, a game demo arcade, and a plenary session with John Black (Teachers College, Columbia University), Joey Lee (Teachers College, Columbia University), Anastasia Salter (University of Baltimore), and Eric Zimmerman (New York University). ASHP/CML’s Leah Potter presented “Truth is Where You Make It: Designing Historical Games” with co-presenter Carlos Hernandez (Borough of Manhattan Community College). Her presentation drew on experiences with the ongoing Channel 13 Mission US series for which ASHP/CML is the lead content developer. The second conference day, held at Borough of Manhattan Community College, was a game day during which participants playtested both commercial and educational tabletop/board games with guidance from game designers.

Game-based learning (GBL) refers to instructional practices that incorporate games with defined learning outcomes, or that adopt game learning principles over conventional pedagogies. Research shows the potential of GBL to foster student engagement and problem-solving, and to improve student performance across disciplines. While GBL is gradually gaining a foothold in colleges and universities, and attracting the attention of administrators, most of the public discourse and media spotlight on GBL is directed at the k-12 level, and much less so at higher education. The CUNY Games Festival fills this gap by focusing attention on the possibilities and challenges of integrating GBL in college classrooms, as well as the emerging field of game studies.

ASHP/CML was the primary sponsor of the event, which also received generous support from the CUNY Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative. The New Media Lab, Center for the Humanities, and Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program were also co-sponsors.

To learn more about the CUNY Games Festival, visit the conference website, or search Twitter for the hashtag #cgf2014.

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