I fly out tomorrow morning to Boston to spend some time at the GAMBIT Game Lab at MIT.
I am excited for this opportunity because of several things, the first is that MIT does not have a games degree, and second because GAMBIT is firmly housed in the humanities.
The first point is interesting because at SJSU we really don’t have the time, nor does the CSU have the drive to create a whole new program. (with the exception of self supporting programs under special sessions) GAMBIT thrives by being a connector and a focus for research. They maintain a list of interesting classes across all of the colleges and then provide undergraduate (and graduate) research opportunities. The way this works is that a researcher has a problem or a question that they are interested in investigating through games, and students end up building pieces or even whole systems/games that explore these issues. Additionally they have been hosting a summer program (which I am going to observe) that creates teams from Singapore schools and local university students. These teams are then given a product owner and a researcher who they then create a game and work with to satisfy. From what I have seen, the questions are diverse as are the games. The teams have eight weeks (40 hour weeks, no crunch time) for development and refining, including research and paper prototyping.
JP Bruneau is teaching a projects class for the Learning and Games Initiative in the Fall, and we hope to be able to model some of this. Our teams will likely not be as refined as the GAMBIT teams, but I am expecting there to be a lot of systems and strategies that will benefit our teams dealing with their research questions.
It has bothered me that in such difficult financial times our art department has been so standoffish about the idea of working with games, to the point that there has been no real attempt on their part to connect with the Learning and Games Initiative.
The GAMBIT program is placed in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) and I am interested in understanding this relationship more closely. It is apparent that Digital Humanities, 21st Century Literacies, and creativity are already important, our provost has more or less made a commitment to these and High Impact Learning practices. Strangely (or not) I see all of this coming together in the classes we are starting to offer. I need to see how they fit / function in the scope of a larger university environment.
I meant to link to all of the reading and videos that I have been watching to prepare for this, but that will have to wait for another time.
Here is a brief introduction: http://techtv.mit.edu/collections/gambitgamelab/videos/13604-singapore-mit-gambit-game-lab-introduction-video-2011