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June 2-3
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Wednesday, June 2 • 11:55am - 12:15pm
Keynote: Game Design Thinking + Social Justice - Ashlyn Sparrow, Assistant Director, Weston Game Lab at University of Chicago

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Games are the largest cultural and entertainment forms of our time. Pre-Covid, thousands of players would gather in parks to play Pokémon Go, or in large stadiums to see international teams play a game of League of Legends. These numbers have continued to grow with games like Animal Crossing: New Horizon, selling more than 26 million copies since March 2020, and over half a billion users playing Among Us in November 2020. Games have consumed much of our time, attention, and capital. Games are so popular, that they have begun to influence our everyday lives. The practice of “gamification”, using game mechanics in traditionally nongame activities, is all around us. Fitocracy, Fitbit, and MyFitnessPal, Nike+ have gamified exercise, Khan Academy gamified education and learning, while consumer rewards programs, have even gamified loyalty. The language of competition, leaderboards, and points have taken over mundane aspects of our lives. But, can we use games and game design thinking to shift our relationship to the world and design a more just society?

In this session, Sparrow will reorienting the affordances of games and invite participants to think critically about how our society has been designed, who it’s been designed for, and who it’s been designed by.

avatar for Ashlyn Sparrow

Ashlyn Sparrow

Assistant Director, Weston Game Lab at University of Chicago

Wednesday June 2, 2021 11:55am - 12:15pm PDT