Playful by Design: A Third Space Community of Practice for Game Studies & Design
This paper traces the history and development of Playful by Design, a cross-campus initiative at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from which the interdisciplinary Game Studies & Design program emerged. Interdisciplinary collaborations bridge differences between academic cultures and can spur innovative research and new programs and initiatives. Games, understood both as objects of study and as a methodology for conducting research on topics other than games, are moving into the mainstream within multiple academic disciplines; that doesn’t mean that interdisciplinary game studies must disappear as an intellectual endeavor. Playful by Design has become a local and global community of practice in which shared and overlapping interests in game-relevant research of all kinds, but also design, pedagogy, and technology, provide a durable interdisciplinary third space. As a network, it can welcome multidisciplinary activities pursued by teachers, scholars, artists, and designers within their own disciplines and in their own ways. Through creative collaborations, the sharing of resources, and the growth of team-based studio work and other experiential learning, this approach facilitates the emergence of transdisciplinary and glocal aspirations. These include shared values of accessibility and inclusion, reflected in how we teach and conduct research, and in the design and creation of games, simulations, and other interactive and immersive experiences that address the critical shared challenges of our times.