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Regenerative Game Studio: Playing For the Future

Are we living in an age of apocalypse? A daily stock of the news headlines may bring us to believe so. The constant stream of climate catastrophe, racial justice uprisings, poverty, hunger, and the loss of truth and political voice all illustrate the complex, overlapping challenges facing life in the 21st century. Individually, we may assume we have little agency in constructing the profound change we need.

At this exact moment, the world requires creative, inventive solutions and synergistic action if we are to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. How can we create a regenerative, life-affirming society where humans are in a mutually beneficial relationship with the earth’s systems and with each other?

Well-designed games are a dynamic tool that bring into focus the power of systems thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Game design requires that we scrutinize our current state, establish alternatives, and test interventions designed to instigate change. These design challenges explicitly encourage us to examine social and ecological structures, identify leverage points, and confront the trade-offs between our desired states. Game design moves beyond linear experiences to experience design, which is a creative endeavor drawing on skills from psychology, anthropology, business, communication, creative writing, economics, management, mathematics, and the visual arts.

In this class, you will play and critique different games, explore game systems models, and examine game archetypes. Journaling exercises will support you in self-reflection about your own worldview assumptions while you analyze trade-offs, traps, and synergistic insights. You will develop a rapid prototype of your own tabletop game, establish collaborative groups, produce mock-ups, engage in playtesting, and ultimately present product models. We welcome all students, regardless of your familiarity with gaming, and we will embrace your unique gifts of perspective.

The reward? You will delight in your own personal triumph of experiencing yourself as a system teacher who can assist groups and networks in recognizing their own sense of agency. You will marvel as you develop alliances with colleagues across widely different majors, and you will playfully engage in the collaborative work of crafting a new governance for the common good.