Games as Social Transformation
Can games make the world a better place? Is it possible that we use games to make a difference in global challenges such as climate change or public health? Can we reduce societal biases, or encourage people to intervene in situations of danger, such as sexual assault? And how do we know the games are doing what they set out to do? Join scholar and game designer Mary Flanagan for this “under the hood” approach to using games to promote human flourishing, play by play.
Mary Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, is a leading innovator, artist, educator and designer, whose works have included everything from game-inspired art, to commercial games that shift people’s thinking about biases and stereotypes. Her interest in play and culture led to her acclaimed book, Critical Play, with MIT Press (2009). Her fifth academic book, Values at Play in Digital Games (with philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, MIT 2014), demonstrates that thinking about values is a key to innovation. Flanagan established the internationally recognized game research laboratory Tiltfactor () in 2003 to invent "humanist" games and take on social through games. At Tiltfactor, designers create and research catchy games that teach or transform “under the radar” using psychological principles. Flanagan's digitally driven artworks and installations have been shown internationally at venues including the Hyundai Motor Studios in Beijing, Ars Electronica in Linz, Laboral Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SIGGRAPH, Beall Center, Steirischer Herbst, The Guggenheim New York, Gigantic Art Space, and others. Her many essays and articles on digital culture have appeared in periodicals and books ranging in fields from game studies to cultural studies to computer science.