May 10, 2022

Games + Learning + Society Reunion

Categories: Connected Learning, Digital Learning, Featured, Research
The words 'GLS conference' in white script text appear over an image of a large building with columns

GLS2022 – June 15-17, 2022, UCI is hosting a reunion of the Games + Learning + Society community, in person, live and unedited, on site and up close. So, if you are thinking, “Wait, they are doing this face-to-face, and only face-to-face?!” The answer is “Yes!”

If your next question is “Why?” the answer is that after 5 years of hiatus that saw the rise of Trumpism, #metoo, a reckoning with structurally racist inequities, global misinformation, and the rise of extremism, we wanted to reconvene our community and check in. How are games scholars, practitioners, educators, and developers responding to these trends? What roles do games play in these conversations, and how are thoughtful designers responding? What are educators doing in response? What research is relevant in these contexts?

The program reflects these concerns, and features a mix of new friends and old colleagues addressing Games, Learning, and Society. Raph Koster, CEO of Playable Worlds (and former lead designer of Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and LegendMUD, among others, as well as former Chief Creative Officer at Sony Online) will talk about the past, present, and future of the Metaverse (Games). GLS Co-Founder and Chair of the Curriculum & Instruction Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Erica Halverson will present how the Arts Can Save Education (Learning). UCI’s own Aaron Trammell, Editor-in-Chief of Analog Game Studies and author of the upcoming Repairing Play: A Black Phenomenology, and Hobbyists: The historical roots of white geek masculinity will discuss the history of suburbia, role playing, and race (Society). As has been the case with GLS historically, we hope to mix themes so that the people doing this work are in conversation, and able to support a next generation. The full schedule is available here.

GLS similarly features a mix of new and old formats designed to support community building. We’ve said goodbye to beers, brats, and ice cream on the UW-Madison Memorial Terrace, but hello to outdoor sessions, sessions in UCI’s Esports arena, a band on Aldrich Park, and sunsets, bonfires, and surf lessons on the Pacific Ocean. Eric Zimmerman is Master of Ceremonies for a GLS Award showcase, and has promised a live, outdoor, face-to-face game design event that is sure to be memorable. Favorites such fireside chats, well played sessions, the GLS arcade will continue as well sessions designed for formal and informal educators and students, supported by Epic’s Unreal Engine. All of that, plus selectively peer-reviewed papers.

The point of it all, however, is to get people together who are inspired by games and related technologies, interested in understanding their social impact, and trying to put them to good use. UCI is immersed, if not engulfed in games, and features a national championship esports program, a vibrant undergraduate game development major, a plucky upstart local game studio called “Blizzard,” several thriving independent game studios, and a neighboring city, Los Angeles, with its own entertainment industry-related activities. 

Despite this embarrassment of riches (or maybe because of it), the social impact sector of games in Southern California is diffuse. We know that many game developers, educators, and students are interested in these issues, and maybe GLS can help fit that need. So, anyone interested in games and their social impact should consider attending!. If you are a student or K-12 educator, there are still spots available at the special $150 educators rate.

Come join! Registration is open now.


Post by Constance Steinkuehler (Professor of Informatics, UCI) & Kurt Squire (Professor of Informatics, UCI)