Research Vision

We strive to investigate the expressive and strategic possibility of games through interdisciplinary study and our strategic location in the nation's capital.

  • Interdisciplinary fields include human-computer interaction, strategic communication, artificial intelligence, civic engagement, decision science, journalism, user experience, art, design, education, and health.
  • Our partners and funders range from the Knight Foundation to the National Institutes of Health, to Educational Testing Service, Games for Change and more.
  • Our approach includes investigating research questions through designs built in our studio.
  • Our goal is to advance theory that guides policy, improves design quality, and advances our understanding of games as a cultural form.
Steven Dashiell and Ashely Tisdale

Research ·

Academic Diversity Postdocs Enriching AU Scholarship

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The Power of Games to Connect Communities

Benjamin Stokes

Play deepens our sense of place, introduces neighbors, and circulates stories.

Benjamin Stokes studies how games can be used as a tool to make positive changes in the real world by improving local economies, breaking down cultural and social barriers and empowering and connecting communities. He recently received a grant from the Knight Foundation and Niantic, Inc. to investigate how augmented reality and games like Pokémon Go can be leveraged to build future cities that are stronger, smarter, and healthier.


We ask, "How can games and play be used to affect player interest, activities and opinions?" For more information, visit the JoLT program.

We ask, "How do games fit into the context of art, media, and other cultural artifacts? How can game makers help leading cultural institutions address games?" For an example of this cultural work, see our Smithsonian event page.

Currently being explored in several classes and with collaborators in the DC area. We are continuing a related course on games and rhetoric in the spring of 2016, taught by Michael Treanor.

We ask, "Can we develop gaming therapies that improve health outcomes by aligning game level progressions with clinical goals, for example, a gaming therapy to reduce severe anxiety in children?" AU-NIH Health Game Project, for more information contact Bob Hone.

We ask, "How can playable models of sociocultural systems uniquely inform players’ understanding of the world? Can humanities and social science be combined with artificial intelligence techniques to enhance character believability, social interaction and storytelling?" For more information, contact Michael Treanor.

We ask, "How can games strengthen local networks, building cohesion and community to empower historically marginalized neighborhoods and deepen our sense of place?" For example, see Locally Played by Benjamin Stokes.