Alumni to speak at annual gaming conference

by Maya Poddar | 5/14/14 6:42pm

To most, work and play are distinct and mutually exclusive. For professionals in the expanding gaming industry, however, the two are inextricably linked. Tomorrow, Dartmouth alumni who have pursued careers in gaming will speak to students about the industry and its growing interdisciplinary trend.

The College will host its third annual Dartmouth at Play conference from 2-4 p.m. on Friday in Loew Auditorium. Co-sponsored by Digital Humanities and The Neukom Institute, the conference will bring gaming industry alumni back to campus to engage with students and discuss the industry’s future.

Friday’s event will kick off with a small lunch for students and alumni, followed by a panelist discussion on how the industry increasingly influences sectors beyond gaming, such as product design and social awareness, film and media studies professor and event organizer Mary Flanagan said. Flanagan directs Tiltfactor Laboratory, a studio that designs and studies games that promote social change.

This year, Ian Davis ’91 from Rockstar Games, the company that created the Grand Theft Auto series, Emily Anadu ’00 from Jawbone, a wearable consumer electronics company, and Jason Wong ’00 from Big Fish Games, a gaming website, will participate in the panel.

Flanagan described Dartmouth’s connection to the gaming industry as a “hidden history” of the College. The event, she said, is mutually beneficial to students and alumni.

“It’s a chance for alumni to come back during Green Key, and it’s a chance for students, who are taking a little break before the parties start, to really meet people and think about the future of play,” she said.

The range and success of this year’s speakers highlights the strength of Dartmouth’s “vibrant” game design program, event organizer Danielle Taylor said.

Games, according to Flanagan, are increasingly being incorporated into industries like health care, business and education.

“There are a lot ways in which games are really part of popular culture in a very deep way, and they are in almost every sector of the workforce,” Flanagan said.

Eric Yang ’14, who plans to attend the conference, said he is excited to learn more about how gaming affects other fields. The study of gaming, Yang said, is relevant to people in careers involving problem-solving and reaching target audiences.

“It’s not just about people who are interested in design,” Yang said.

Marielle Brady ’17 said she looks forward to hearing about the ways game design can serve as a model to create goods in other sectors of the economy, as well how violent games may impact society.

Though Flanagan hopes the event will attract students from across disciplines and interests, the conference will also allow time for students to seek career-related advice, she said.

Shivang Sethi ’17, who works as a student team member for Tiltfactor, said he hopes alumni discuss their career trajectories.