Advocacy and games evaluation in South Africa

In March 2016, Professor Lien Tran and PhD student Soroya McFarlane traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, to conduct a qualitative research study on the use of creative methods of advocacy. Tran and McFarlane facilitated 9 focus groups with over 50 South African advocacy leaders, representing more than 15 human rights and health organizations.

Participants of the study either played Cops and Rubbers (a tabletop game designed by Professor Tran for Open Society Foundations [OSF]) or read OSF’s Criminalizing Condoms report. Both the report and game address the adverse effect the practice of using condoms as evidence of prostitution has on sex workers’ health and human rights. Participants discussed the benefits and barriers of the game and the report within the context of standard methods of advocacy.

In addition to participating in the focus groups, the local advocacy and outreach leaders were invited to attend a training session, led by Tran, on using Cops and Rubbers as an awareness and advocacy tool to support the decriminalization of condoms. More than 20 of the representatives opted to be trained as Cops and Rubbers game facilitators for use in their community outreach around Cape Town. The Sex Worker Education & Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT), South Africa’s leading sex worker human rights organization and an OSF partner, will also use the game within their human rights zone at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, in July 2016.

The research study and game facilitation training were funded by OSF and made possible in collaboration with SWEAT. Special thanks to Dr. Susan Morgan for her contributions as evaluation consultant.

An Evaluation of games for advocacy: A quantitative research study conducted in Cape Town, South Africa report was released in early 2017 and is available for download here.

Findings from the study will also be submitted for publication in scholarly communication journals.

Always be “Ready to Play” – notes from APA Florida Chapter 2015 workshop

Thank you to all participants who joined me today at the APA’s Florida Chapter conference. Today planners from around the state of Florida got together to experience the power of games to incite critical thinking and dialogue about real-world issues. These included new strategies for decision-making and planning in the face of potential environmental and systemic risks. The session included collaborative activities, with just a touch of competition, during which participants weighed available information/choices and possible outcomes as a means to generate dynamic discourse on challenges and solutions for real-world scenarios. We started the session playing Magnitude (all game files can be found at this link), followed by Building Up (modified from Fields of View‘s City Game) and ending with suggested tools and resources for running interactive sessions with peers and/or community members. I hope you are inspired to take what you saw today and modify/adapt them to your needs. If you need help or suggestions, please let me know. Below are the slides for your reference. I’ll also create time-lapse video(s) of the towns and will post them here soon!

Building Up activity

Join the Field Innovation Team at University of Miami for the first Miami DO Tank, February 5, 2015

I’ve teamed up with the Field Innovation Team (FIT) to run the first ever Miami DO Tank on February 5, 2015, at the University of Miami’s Student Activities Center. Living in South Florida, the detrimental effects of climate change may be inevitable in our lifetime. Co-sponsored by University of Miami’s Center for Communication, Culture, and Change (4C) and FIT, Miami Do Tank will demonstrate how gaming can move communities to prepare and become more resilient to the impact of rising sea levels.

Please join us to learn how gaming can move communities to prepare and become more resilient to climate change impacts. We will play two exciting scientifically constructed games, including Magnitude, to demonstrate this concept. Tying in these games, we will explain the 6-step design-thinking process. We will train participants on how to use this methodology to create rapid, innovative solutions for addressing the challenges of rising sea levels.

Come the University of Miami to meet with other concerned leaders, experts, and researchers on climate change. Play the scientifically created games and find out where they are available as an open source resource.

Miami DO Tank
Thursday, February 5, 2015 (9am – 4pm)
University of Miami, Student Activities Center (North & South rooms)
Coral Gables, FL

For event information and RSVP, please visit: http://goo.gl/TQ1mJj

Good news, students can attend for free by sending an email to Miami DO Tank at info@fieldinnovationteam.org.

General Agenda

  • 9:00 am – Welcome
  • 9:15 am – “What are Miami and South Florida’s most pressing challenges?” discussion
  • 9:45 am –  Intro to FIT’s design-thinking process and goals for the day
  • 10:05 am – Break
  • 10:15 am – Steps 1 + 2 of design-thinking process: “Understand & Observe”
  • 10:45 am – Rapid sharing on “Understand & Observe”
  • 11:00 am – Play REStrukt game
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Score REStrukt
  • 1:30 pm – Break
  • 1:40 pm – Play Magnitude game
  • 2:40 pm – Break
  • 2:50 pm – Magnitude debrief; Steps 3 + 4 of design-thinking process: “Define & Ideate”
  • 3:45 pm – Wrap up

The Field Innovation Team is a 501(c)3 that responds to crises while simultaneously working on disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction at local, state, national, and international levels. FIT’s mission is “Innovating real-time in disasters.” The Miami DO Tank is a short program that helps communities by mobilizing actors and organizations within South Florida to support theexpected outcome of the United Nations Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015, a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards.

The Center for Communication, Culture and Change focuses on using communication for social and behavioral change through engaged scholarship and immersive experience. Seeking to address urgent societal issues while making a positive difference in people’s lives, the Center is particularly focused on Latin America and its Miami diaspora.

 

This information also appears on UM’s School of Communication website.

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

SIGGRAPH DAC Aesthetics of Gameplay exhibit of indie games available online

In early 2014, the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community (DAC) launched the Aesthetics of Gameplay online exhibition. Ian Bogost captures what this exhibition aims to showcase in his article entitled “Persuasive Games: From Aberrance to Aesthetics”: “But when one finds a game that does manage to deliver a detectable aesthetic — a set of creative principles and effects that make it the sort of game it is — that alone is a triumph.”

I was invited by Greg Garvey from Quinnipiac University (and curator of this exhibit) to be one of the 15 game nominators to identify indie games that fit Bogost’s description. Each nominator was asked to list up to 15 game titles for inclusion in this collection of recent digital games from independent developers that are uniquely creative in putting together striking and distinctive aesthetics with engaging gameplay.

Please visit the exhibit online and experience the breadth of game aesthetics demonstrated with this impressive list of indie games. In the words of curator Greg Garvey, we hope this exhibition “poses questions about the nature of art, games, and play. So download, get in some serious play, and enjoy total engagement!” To view the SIGGRAPH DAC Aesthetics as Gameplay exhibit, please visit: http://gameartshow.siggraph.org/gas/acknowledgements/

Exhibit game nominators included: Elena Bertozzi, Clayton Ewing, Lindsay Grace, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Eric Nersesian, Casey O’Donnell, Andrew Phelps, Charles Pratt, Samuel Roberts, Kathleen Ruiz, Dave Tomczyk, Lien Tran, Michael Wagner, Jose Zagal, and Eric Zimmerman

 

 

Cops & Rubbers video is now live!

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 Have you played Cops & Rubbers?

Watch this video to learn more about my Cops & Rubbers game project with Open Society Foundations’ Public Health and Rights Project, which is based on OSF’s Criminalizing Condoms report.

For more on Cops & Rubbers:

 

Thanks to Ed Talavera, professor from University of Miami’s Cinema program, for putting together this fabulous Cops & Rubbers video.

UM Interactive Media MFA Among Princeton Review’s Top Graduate Game Design Programs

The School of Communications Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts program has earned a No. 24 ranking on The Princeton Review’s 2014 list of the best graduate schools to study video game design. The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in Fall 2013 of 150 programs at institutions offering video game design coursework or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

It’s an honor to have our Interactive Media program on this list and in such great company (including my alma mater Parsons) in our first year. We look forward to supporting the many amazing game projects that will come out of our Interactive Media program!

If you’re a student interested in studying with us, please check out: interactive.miami.edu

Check out the original article on the School of Communication website.

 

 

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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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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