Games are increasingly seen as a way to address human needs, from the intimate work of maintaining social relationships to the pragmatic benefits of games for learning, health, and social change. If we hope to design games that address these needs, we must understand how people create meaning with, through, and around games. How do specific game design decisions impact the way players think, feel, and behave? What kinds of imaginative and social affordances can games provide players? And what kinds of problems are most appropriate to solve with games in the first place? This talk explores the complex interaction between game design, user experience, and real-world problems through the lens of game-based research projects on discrimination, smoking, and history.
Jessica Hammer is a Mellon Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Fellow at Columbia University, a founding member of the Teachers College EGGPLANT game research laboratory and a member of the Creativity Research Group. She is the lead designer and researcher for the Advance game project, on which she is writing her dissertation. Her larger research interests include stories, games, communities, gender, creativity and learning. She also developed the game design course sequence for the Communications, Computing and Technology program at Teachers College Columbia University. Before joining the department, Jessica worked as a writer, consultant and game designer with an emphasis on serious games and social software. She has taught at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, consulted for both academic and business clients, and worked at noted New York game company Gamelab. She received a masters degree in interactive telecommunications from NYU and her BA in computer science from Harvard University. In her free time, she runs an experimental storytelling group in New York City.