Interactive Media featured in Fall 2014 Miami Magazine // Toma el Paso graces the cover

Tim Collie wrote a comprehensive article about our Interactive Media program and games at UM, including both faculty and student projects, for the Fall 2014 issue of UM’s Miami magazineToma el Paso (Make a Move) is featured on the cover and as a sidebar, and Cops and Rubbers also gets a nice mention.

Toma el Paso has been played by hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant minors in Miami since April 2014, and it will spread to Texas starting in April 2015. Stay tuned for more on my immigration games and serious games projects.

 

For the full article, visit: http://miami.univmiami.net/gaming-system/

Miami Magazine featuring UM's Interactive Media program and game projects

Miami Magazine featuring UM’s Interactive Media program + game projects; Toma el Paso graces the cover

Invoking the Pause: Creating Games for the Caribbean Climate

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Thanks to funding from Invoking the Pause, I was able to travel to Barbados to organize a workshop exploring communication of climate risk using game systems. As a result of this unique funding opportunity, the University of Miami’s School of Communication (UM), the IFRC Red Cross Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Reference Center (CADRIM), and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), were able to partner together for the first time and to introduce an innovative approach to reaching climate risk stakeholders in the Caribbean in June.

The following article was originally posted on UM’s School of Communication website in October 2014. For more information on the Let’s Adapt workshop, please visit the University of Miami’s Invoking the Pause grant website and the Let’s Adapt event page.

Professor Tran specializes in games designed to make a positive social impact by either making players advocate for policy reform, like the condoms as evidence of prostitution policy, or educating undocumented youth on their rights. Games are becoming increasingly more popular for organizations that have trouble explaining tough concepts (like climate change) that can have long-term consequences. While the RCCC has been using climate games and system simulation games steadily across Africa and Asia, it has identified but not yet had the capacity to introduce these game-based communication tools in the Caribbean. Professor Tran along with Reynette Royer (CADRIM), Mini Saraswati (RCCC), and UM’s Professor Clay Ewing facilitated a two-day games workshop entitled “Let’s Adapt: Games for Climate Change Resiliency” to help introduce these concepts in the Caribbean.

Workshop participants represented the Barbados Red Cross, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH), Community Disaster Response Teams (CDRT), and the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES). By connecting relevant parties from Barbados and around the region on new participatory approaches to adaptation, this workshop explored how interactive resources and game-based activities can assist in the task of communicating climate change information and invoking grassroots participation within Caribbean communities.

The beginning of the workshop served as an introduction to what makes a game a game, and reasons why games provide a better alternative to learn about these tough issues as opposed to the standard PowerPoint lecture. Games can provide a flexible way for different types of audiences to learn in small doses, while providing an active learning environment where you can interact with peers. After this short game introduction, workshop participants played Paying for Predictions and Match It and also played and began adapting Humans vs. Mosquitoes and Let’s Get Ready (based on an existing RCCC game called Ready). Many of the games can be played with simple materials that you can find at a grocery or convenience store, which helped reinforce the concept that you don’t need much to make a game that teaches important real-world lessons.

Participants also found the game Humans vs. Mosquitoes particularly topical as it addressed a major concern in the region: vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever and chikungunya. The general consensus was that both awareness and mitigation of these diseases is essential, especially as the prevalence has increased in the Caribbean with shifts in climate. Another benefit of playing Humans vs. Mosquitoes was to show how the same message could be translated in two formats: a gesture-based game requiring no special materials and a professionally designed and printed card game.

There were also some unexpected results in the areas of capacity development and partnerships from the workshop. The cooperation and engagement between the workshop organizers has formed an informal non-traditional partnership between UM’s School of Communication and the Red Cross’s CADRIM center, including consideration for other opportunities whereby a reciprocal internship program or similar type of activity could foster creative skills development for students based in both the United States and the Caribbean. Additionally, the extensive research and experience of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre presents exciting proposals for bi-lateral partnerships in the Caribbean related to tools development and research with institutions in the region. While the hope for the workshop was to spark interest beyond the 2-day agenda, the extent to which it has already is far beyond expectations. Professor Tran and her workshop collaborators see this workshop as the first in a series of collaborative initiatives aimed at further innovating actions to increase awareness and resilience in the Caribbean.

 

Cops & Rubbers Goes Dutch via Hivnieuws

Ejay de Wit, a Dutch reporter, interviewed Rachel Thomas from Open Society Foundation and me at the International AIDS Conference (IAC2012) for an article in Hivnieuws. Thanks to the article Hivnieuws European readers are eager to play Cops & Rubbers. We’re a little behind on launching the game to the public, but stay tuned – we hope to launch by early 2013.

The article highlights OSF’s Criminalizing Condoms report and the Cops & Rubbers game. If you can read Dutch, you can download and read the Hivnieuws article here.

Here are also some additional photos that Ejay took of Cops & Rubbers at AIDS2012.

 

Video highlighting The New Challenge Finalists 2012

I feel very fortunate to be among the finalists who received seed money from The New School’s The New Challenge. This video captures the essence of what TNS is achieving by providing its students with this funding opportunity. Most of the clips are from the exhibition and pitch event in April, which was an extremely emotional day for me. Watch until the end and you’ll catch a glimpse (I’m thankful it didn’t go on for longer – I was quite in shock).

I’ve recently been in talks with Shay, my legal expert and partner for AmigoLegal Games, about future testing and games. We’ve both had quite a busy summer personally and professionally, and we’re now at a point where there’s a little more room to breath, brainstorm, and also motivate those around us. More people are getting behind our movement. Stay tuned for future AmigoLegal news!

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UM launching MFA in Interactive Media in 2013

It’s official, the University of Miami is launching a new MFA in Interactive Media program starting in the 2012-13 academic year. There’s also an Interactive Media minor for undergraduates. I know I’m not alone sharing in the excitement of what’s to come with more interaction courses and projects coming out of the U. To learn more about the new program you can visit interactive.miami.edu.

Don’t forget to play Sebastian in Space (I leave it to you to find him), a simple but possibly addicting game designed by fellow faculty Clay Ewing and myself. To learn more about Sebastian check out Wikipedia and to vote for him as Best Mascot in Capitol One’s Mascot Challenge go here.

Humans vs. Mosquitoes to attack Come Out & Play San Francisco!

Humans vs. Mosquitoes is making its way to a third outdoor games festival this year. After creating quite a commotion at Come Out and Play in New York this summer, HvM will be buzzing about SoMA during the COAP San Francisco festival December 1-2, 2012. One notable difference from the 2 previous games festivals: COAP San Francisco will also have an accompanying exhibit from November 17 – December 8 and our tabletop version of HvM will be available to play. If you’re going to be in San Francisco, mark your calendar for a slew of unique physical games! COAP SF will be extra awesome thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to everyone who donated, and I hope to see you at COAP in December!

Custom art by Come Out and Play San Francisco

Humans vs. Mosquitoes at DCGames

Clay Ewing and I ran Humans vs. Mosquitoes at this year’s DC Games Festival held in West Potomac Park (just south of Lincoln Memorial and west of MLK Memorial). It was a pretty nice backdrop with the Washington Monument peaking out from behind the trees, and we even got a wave from Air Force One (it felt like it was within arm’s reach). I guess Obama – or at least his crew – approves of HvM! It was a pretty hot and sunny day (felt like almost 100 degrees) so we are very appreciative of all the players who came out and ran like determined humans and mosquitoes.

Also here’s a short clip of humans and mosquitoes at play during DCGames Festival. For more information on the game, you can visit our website: humansvsmosquitoes.com

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Introducing UM’s SoC New Faculty

UM’s School of Communication welcomed 4 new faculty this academic year, and the South Florida Business Journal was kind enough to consider us and our research and creative interests as integral to southern Florida’s economic future. Here’s the full article.

Also I love this intro. It would be wonderful if Clay and my serious games got on President Shalala’s radar!

[quote]Two of the new UM faculty members are notable for being from the Parsons The New School of Design in New York. It’s also notable that some of the new hires have done research in the area of political campaigns and social issues, which probably interest UM President Donna Shalala because she served as secretary of health and human services for eight years in the Clinton administration.[/quote]

One correction to the article: my title is actually Lecturer of Interactive Media (in the department of Journalism and Media Management).

Paul Amelchenko, Juliana Fernandes, Lien Tran and Clay Ewing are the newest faculty at UM’s School of Communication.

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Bienvenido!

After 5 years in New York I have moved to warmer and sunnier pastures in southern Florida and thus a refresh of my website. I’ve recently joined the faculty at the University of Miami’s School of Communication and am bringing an interaction designer’s approach to communication and journalism strategies. Currently I’m teaching Multimedia Design and will also teach Web Design in the spring. Stay tuned for future games, design projects, and teaching adventures!