MICA Game Lab
I was the founding Director of the MICA Game Lab: a research lab that explores the role of play within culture and its potential to create new forms of meaning. The lab explored games as a cultural form vital to how we learn, create community, tell stories and engage with the world. We created playful projects and games, held public events, hosted a designer-in-residence program, and were a hub for game-related activities at MICA and the Baltimore community.
The lab worked on projects with the European Union, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland Medical Center, Lifebridge Health, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore’s Mayors Office of Innovation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Creative Alliance, Arlington Arts Center, Magfest and Art Works for Change.
In my role, I served as producer, researcher, developer, and designer on sponsored projects, and I developed community programming, workshops, and conferences.
The Quadcade is a collaborative project between the MICA Game Lab, the Maryland Blended Reality Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma unit. The project goal is to research and explore how VR games can be used in the rehabilitation of severe spinal cord injuries.
Working closely with the doctors, researchers and patient partners we have designed a suite of VR games that are played with commercial VR hardware and the Quadstick, a joystick made for quadriplegics.
The games are intended to be used during trach trials, a stressful test where patients ability to breath off a ventilator is measured. The games also serve a second purpose of helping newly injured patients become familiar with adaptive technologies.
The project won the 2021 Games For Change Award for the Best XR For Change!
Dr. Sarah Murthi
Archive was a two day conference that celebrated the strange and wonderful history of games and play. The conference brought together a diverse panel of artists, designers and historians to explore lost stories within the history of game design. The event was a collaboration with long running games conference Magfest and drew a 300 participants in its first year.
The 2019 event featured designers, artists and scholars from Bethesda Softworks, The Museum of Play, PBS Kids, Firaxis, The Library of Congress and included two exhibitions of historic games along with a live game music concert. Speakers included:
- Andrew Borman – The Strong Museum of Play
- David Cook – Bethesda / Designer DnD 2nd Edition
- Renee Gittins – Executive Director IDGA
- Kelsey Lewin – The Video Game History Foundation
- Chloe Varelidi – Independent Designe
Dispatch is a team based puzzle game designed to help the Baltimore City Police department’s recruitment and community relations efforts. The game was researched, designed, tested and built over the course of the year and is currently being used by the Baltimore City Police department to help access recruit’s creative problem solving, team and communication skills.
The game centers around solving sets of pictogram puzzles that are based upon Baltimore’s history and culture . Players work together to research answers and come up solutions before time runs out. They then reveal the answers on the back of each card by using the decoder card or the Dispatch helper app.
Our goal with this project was to create a game that is quick to learn/play and yet highlights the social and problem solving skills needed to support community policing. The game was made possible by funding from the Mayors Office of Innovation and Bloomberg Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Download a print and play version of the game and links to the helper app at: http://www.d15p47ch.com
Story lines is a social, local multiplayer mobile game for 4-30 players where players compete to become the best storyteller. The game is driven by a mobile app, but the main interaction takes place between players who are sharing stories face to face.
This game was developed by the MICA Game Lab in partnership with Art Works for Change partly based on their previous project Aware/Oware. Our main goal with this game is create a unique experience that enables players to share, discuss and empathize with stories of empowerment.