From February 22nd to 29th I was at the Maryland Institute College of Art Gamelab as an artist in residence. Thanks to a partnership between TAG and MICA’s Game Lab, I was able to spend the week attending talks, sitting in on lectures, exploring game prototypes, sharing my own research and, most importantly, maintaining TAG’s honour by crushing them in some board games.
Since this was my first time participating in a residency, I was unsure of what to expect during my time in Baltimore. Throughout the week I met some incredible game designers and artists, swapping ideas, and talking about our interests in games. The lab was a great space, where faculty and students mingled, worked on projects, and relaxed, in some cases feeling similar to the community space in TAG. The small size of the program meant that I got to connect with some students and hear about the interesting work that they were doing. Sitting in on two different prototype sessions, I was blown away by the passion and effort that the students and professors had in the projects being designed at MICA.
As someone who is always trying to learn new ideas for design, sitting in Yann Seznec’s experimental sound games class, I watched students use trampolines to trigger sound effects for games and interactive art pieces. I was welcomed by the friendly face of Matteo Uguzzoni, an urban designer who helps run the MICA lab and helped plan this residency. I got to playtest a board game about a monster parade that he and Jason Corace designed during this year’s Global Game Jam. The lab also offered a range of activities to attend; such as a sound performance, an interactive theatre showcase, and a talk titled Being an Artist in the Age of Trump. Each of these experiences provoked conversation and made me think about ideas that I might embed into my own practice.
In addition to participating in a range of activities, I also got to share some of my own knowledge and work. I sat in on some classes and playtest sessions, brainstorming ideas and talking with students about educational design. I also gave a workshop around social impact escape room design. This was the first workshop I ran as a grad student, and being able to create speculative prototypes of games with students was a fantastic experience. As part of the workshop, I asked students to choose a social issue they were interested in, and was encouraged by their ability to interact with such challenging topics (like microtransactions, facial recognition, the digital divide etc) with maturity and sensitivity to the subject matter.
As a guinea pig for both TAG and MICA as they hope to do more residency swaps, with Yann Seznec coming to Tag from March 1 to 7th, the experience was a fantastic opportunity for myself and (hopefully) MICA. I am extremely grateful to TAG and MICA for letting me participate in this experience, and hope that this partnership will continue to allow other students to have a similar experience in the future.