By Karina Valdes
As a journalist, how do you engage readers and motivate them to become active in addressing the issues facing their community? Lindsay D. Grace, University of Miami School of Communication’s Visiting Knight Chair for fall 2017, is bringing rapid game development to the university to help journalists, designers, and developers understand how to integrate game design as an engagement strategy.
“Today, I believe, we need to help adapt our current large-scale communication systems and expectations toward involving experience. From my research, play is one of the most involving natural systems people use,” said Grace.
In his new role at the University of Miami, Grace will complete a series of workshops to train students and the local community on making low-budget, independent games for news and current affairs. Grace will also host lectures outlining rapid game production for social impact and will produce several independent games on current topics.
“Rapid game development affords the ability to make games at the pace of news. This is a hurdle that's always limited the types of games we would make around news topics. Now, because the technical hurdles are low, the cost of production is decreased and distribution is simplified. It's a bit of a perfect storm for helping people understand complex topics and inspire empathy via games,” said Grace.
Grace will be working in conjunction with the School of Communication’s Center for Communication, Culture, and Change. The center seeks to address urgent societal issues and make a positive difference in people’s lives by focusing on using communication for social and behavioral change through engaged scholarship and immersive experience.
“Grace's work promotes the center's mission of empowering social change by using new and innovative forms of communication. Rapid game development is a powerful tool for communicators and I’m excited to have Grace teaching our students strategies they can then use in their professional careers,” said Dia Kontaxis, interim associate dean of research, interim director of the center for communication, culture and change and associate professor.
Grace has an extensive background in game development and teaching at the university level. He is an associate professor at American University and the founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio. His game designs have received numerous awards including recognition from the Games for Change Festival, the Digital Diversity Network, the Association of Computing Machinery's digital arts community, Black Enterprise, and others. He also created commercial games via his companies Mindtoggle Games and CriticalGameplay.com.
Grace’s expertise in gaming has culminated in having more than 50 papers, articles, and book chapters on games published since 2009. His creative work has been selected for showcase internationally including New York, Paris, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Istanbul, and others. He has given talks at the Game Developers Conference, SXSW, Games for Change Festival/Tribeca Film Festival, the Online News Association, the Society for News Design, and many other industry events.
Visit www.knight.persuasiveplay.org for information on Lindsay’s upcoming workshops. No prior experience in game design is necessary to attend.
Visiting Knight Chairs are endowed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and are individuals at the forefront of their field who innovatively teach classes and create projects that advance journalism in the digital age.