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Mary Flanagan (2015)

Mary Flanagan is an artist, author, educator, and designer. She is the inaugural chair holder of the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professorship in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and the director of the Tiltfactor Lab, an innovative game research laboratory. She graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, earned MFA and MA degrees from the University of Iowa, and achieved her doctorate from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UK. She studied film for her undergraduate and masters work while her PhD was in Computational Media focusing on game design. Her art has been exhibited around the world and she was featured in the video game art documentary 8 BIT. Within the field of culture and technology, she is known for her theory of playculture. Prior to coming to Dartmouth Flanagan had been on the faculty of Hunter College. She serves on the faculty of the Salzburg Global Seminar & the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Academic Consortium on Games for Impact.

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About the Mary Flanagan Interview

Let’s Talk Game Design and Game Research
I have worked with big names and small houses as a consultant designer and won design awards way back in the 1990s for Discovery Channel games. I’ve made games and game related artworks that show up in galleries, on store shelves, and in the App store. I’ve spoken at events such as The Game Developer’s Conference, IndieCade, TEDx, the Salzburg Global Seminar, NextLevel Conference, DIGITEL, Vienna Games Conference, Women in Games, and at the Museum of Modern Art. She has given invited talks at MIT, the GDC, Microsoft Research, USC, NYU, Georgia Tech, University of Toronto, Games for Change, SIGGRAPH, University of Tampere, Cornell, the Smithsonian, etc. Ask me about working the game design industry!

As a scholar interested in how human values are in play across technologies and systems, I’ve written more than 20 critical essays and chapters on games, empathy, gender and digital representation, art and technology, and responsible design. My 2009 book Critical Play explores the intersection of art and games, and "should be required reading for anyone who cares about the cultural importance and future potential of games.” My most recent book, Values at Play in Digital Games with philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, has been called “an essential read for designers who believe in the power of games to change minds.” My innovative scholarship was showcased in 2014 The Atlantic article, “Not Your Father’s STEM Job.” My lab is regularly featured in game blogs such as Kotaku and Polygon. I am widely known as a pundit of matters related to digital culture, publishing popular scholarship in venues such as USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Inside Higher Education, The Daily Beast, and more. Ask me about academia and its relationship to mainstream media!

I’ve been called "A real-life video game heroine" by Salon.com. I’m also a professor at Dartmouth College, where I teach courses including a game design course, and course on digital culture. Ask me about teaching game design!

I founded the Tiltfactor game research laboratory in 2003 and lead a team of really nifty folks in the research and creation of computer games, board games, card games, and performative games. Tiltfactor specializes in influential play— how play and games can get us into positive mental states, more tolerant frames of mind, and be generally less influenced by common psychological biases. Does Cards Against Humanity make you a better person? My team has studied that! Do players play iPad games differently than tabletop games? We’ve studied that too. Many of the games at Tiltfactor seek to change players’ attitudes and behaviors subconsciously (and we’ve been accused of brainwashing before). Ask me about designing and studying games that affect players’ psychology!

My newest game, MONARCH, is currently up on Kickstarter. MONARCH is a board game in which the players play in the role of siblings— the the daughters of a dying Queen. The crown will go to whichever sister proves herself most worthy. MONARCH features scratchboard art by illustrator Kate Adams, and is a gateway strategy board game along the lines of Settlers of Catan or 7 Wonders, built to bring new players into board gaming. Ask me about designing tabletop games, the mechanics of MONARCH, and making challenging games for novice gamers.

Proof: http://imgur.com/RYKrqHv

Mary Flanagan Mar 05, 2015