Seattle Campus News

Seattle Campus News | April 23, 2013

April 17th Local Leaders Global Impact Speaker Series Recap

Left to Right: Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr, Jeff Pobst, Jason Robar, John Williamson, Tayloe Washburn

The Interactive Media Video Gaming industry is a major economic engine in the Puget Sound region, driving over $9 billion in revenue each year.  While 5 years ago Washington State had 150 companies in this sector, in 2013 there are almost 400, and it continues to grow.  Northeastern is a national leader among universities with experts both in the Game Analytics side, as well as in the Game Design field.  Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr is Northeastern’s Director of Game Educational Programs and Research, and has conducted award-winning research focused on enhancing game designs by developing tools and methods for evaluating and adapting game experiences.  On her visit to Seattle last week, she met with leaders at Microsoft and Amazon Gaming groups, visited faculty at the University of Washington, and met with leaders at Popcap, Arena.net and Big Fish.
 
We hosted a Speaker Series event at our Seattle campus last week which brought together Professor Saif El-Nasr and three local Gaming Company CEOs, to discuss ways to move games beyond the entertainment and casual area and help us as a society improve training in education and health care areas.  177 million Americans now play video games, and children under 18 play an average of 2.1 hours per day.  We must as a society find ways to channel some of this energy and time into education, health care, and other areas that benefit our community.  The challenge is to get the funding at the front end to develop fun and engaging games in, for example, helping kids learn algebra, engaging middle school kids into STEM fields, or promoting citizens to engage more in wellness and personalized medicine approaches.
 
Our seminar discussion confirmed that it is unlikely that the large commercial gaming companies will soon switch their resources from the entertainment and recessional games that drive their bottom line.  But our discussion, attended by over 60 people, made it clear there is strong interest in exploring a possible regional initiative to promote good games for education.  To move beyond existing products in this field and reach far more kids in an effective way will require funding from foundations and philanthropists, combined with a core of STEM leaders and advocates, and a few interested and capable game developers.
 
Dean Washburn and Professor Seif El-Nasr invite the general public and companies interested in this initiative to contact them, and will be reaching out to those who have already expressed interest to see if we can bring this vision into a real project that makes a difference.
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