Knowledge Games: How Playing Games Can Solve Problems, Create Insight, and Make Change

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Imagine if new knowledge and insights came not just from research centers, think tanks, and universities but also from games, of all things. Video games have been viewed as causing social problems, but what if they actually helped solve them? This question drives Karen Schrier’s Knowledge Games, which seeks to uncover the potentials and pitfalls of using games to make discoveries, solve real-world problems, and better understand our world. For example, so-called knowledge games—such as Foldit, a protein-folding puzzle game, SchoolLife, which crowdsources bullying interventions, and Reverse the Odds, in which mobile game players analyze breast cancer data—are already being used by researchers to gain scientific, psychological, and humanistic insights.

Schrier argues that knowledge games are potentially powerful because of their ability to motivate a crowd of problem solvers within a dynamic system while also tapping into the innovative data processing and computational abilities of games. In the near future, Schrier asserts, knowledge games may be created to understand and predict voting behavior, climate concerns, historical perspectives, online harassment, susceptibility to depression, or optimal advertising strategies, among other things.

In addition to investigating the intersection of games, problem solving, and crowdsourcing, Schrier examines what happens when knowledge emerges from games and game players rather than scientists, professionals, and researchers. This accessible book also critiques the limits and implications of games and considers how they may redefine what it means to produce knowledge, to play, to educate, and to be a citizen.

Karen Schrier is an assistant professor of media arts, the director of the Play Innovation Lab, and the director of the Games and Emerging Media Program at Marist College. She is the editor of the Learning, Education, and Games series.

Karen Schrier

About Karen "Kat" Schrier

Karen "Kat" Schrier is a game designer, producer, and educator. She is an Associate Professor and the Founding Director of the Games & Emerging Media program at Marist College. She also currently consults as a Game Designer for the World Health Organization (WHO) and is co-PI on a Templeton Foundation Grant on VR and empathy. She was also a Belfer Fellow for the Center for Technology & Society at the ADL. Dr. Schrier is the author/editor of over 100 published works, including We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics (Oxford University Press), the Learning, Education & Games series (ETC Press/Carnegie Mellon), and Knowledge Games (Johns Hopkins University Press). Prior to becoming a full-time academic, she worked at media companies like Scholastic, BrainPOP, and Nickelodeon. Dr. Schrier holds a doctorate from Columbia University, a master’s degree from MIT, and a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College. Thesis: Revolutionizing History Education: Using Augmented Reality Games to Teach Histories

 
 

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