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AU Alumni and Friends Meet Up for Fun, Games, and Scholarship

Gaming with a Purpose Event

Donors, alumni, faculty, and students all came together to support the new Master of Arts in Game Design at Gaming with a Purpose, a fundraising event hosted by the Library on March 18. This event featured game materials that donors could choose as a gift to the Library in support of this new initiative. All of the event proceeds from the event will be used to support development of this collection.

American University's Master of Arts in Game Design in the School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences is a unique, multi-disciplinary program focused on game design, play theory, and game engagement strategies intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. The program is designed to develop the intellectual capacity of students as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. This is the only degree in persuasive play in the United States. Students who graduate from the program will be prepared to for a wide variety of jobs utilizing next-generation media engagement to change people’s interests, activities, and opinions.

Lindsay Grace, Director of the Persuasive Play Initiative, is a game designer and researcher. His game designs have received awards from Games for Change Festival, Meaningful Play, Advances in Computer Entertainment, and Gamescape. He has published more than 25 papers, articles, and book chapters on games since 2009. Grace describes AU's concept of gaming with a purpose as "games that go beyond entertainment—pursuing how games can change people’s behavior and how to produce socially responsible games.”

To support this initiative, the Library needs to build a collection of materials relevant to the field. To that end, we have been purchasing scholarly books in this field and speaking with faculty members about their instructional needs. They requested a substantial number of games—and we are pleased to fulfill this request.

The games that we acquired through the generosity of our donors include classic games, which can be used to teach the fundamentals of game development; vintage games, which can be used to increase our understanding of a specific era; war games, which simulate the complexity and strategy of combat situations; games based on real-world scenarios, such as a pandemic outbreak, which illustrate the theories of persuasive play; and others. The materials that we have acquired to support this program aid faculty to create a framework for discussion in their classrooms. Adding games to the curriculum is an ideal way to give students a hands-on understanding of the theory and mechanisms of game design and persuasive play.