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What is JoLT?
First and foremost, JoLT is a verb. This American University School of Communication initiative will catalyze the evolution of journalism by developing new media leaders who will disrupt the status quo. Game design theory and systems thinking are the foundation of the Journalism Leadership Transformation program.

How will JoLT work?
Fellows in the program, people who understand how games work, will apply those theories to redesigning how media, journalism and information is gathered, produced and shared with an engaged public. We hope to create the next disruptive media leaders.

Game designers mixing with media makers and journalists?
Who better?

Jeffrey Rutenbeck, the dean of SOC, put it best: "Effective game designers excel at weaving together a compelling mix of context, goals, challenges and rewards that encourages players' ongoing involvement. What can journalism learn from the way they think?"

What will the JoLT fellows do?
Three graduate student fellows will help pilot the initial program while getting MAs in Game Design. Among the courses they take are those in games and society, game research methods and game development.

In addition, three professional fellows -- working people in media -- will parachute in during the program to help us nail down concepts in leadership transformation. They will keep us asking: how can I apply this to media? What do tomorrow’s leaders look like? How should they change the way we think?

This sounds very cutting edge. How did you pull it off?
We already have some awesome leadership in the field, starting with Lindsay Grace, an internationally exhibited game artist and designer whose Critical Gameplay collection has been exhibited in Asia, Europe, North and South America.

And we are extremely grateful to the James L. Knight Foundation for seeding this with $250,000 for fellows, two groundbreaking summits and a series of leadership workshops.

Can you give examples of objectives?
Grace, the director of the American University Game Lab says game design is really about linking interesting problems, “so it's reasonable to believe that we can structure tasks and responsibilities to engage people toward specific problem solving.

“This could be as simple as mobilizing citizen journalists, or as complex as identifying journalistic areas that need to be covered and aren't adequately,” he says.

I’m impressed journalism is taking such a hard look inward.
Journalists already have been rapidly rethinking the delivery platforms for news. From immersive storytelling to augmented reality trends, JoLT is the next step, pairing game design elements with systems development and design thinking that may be new to journalists.