The Engagement Game Lab relocates

Gamers interested in the development and creation of the virtual contests now have a new space to complete their research. The Engagement Game Lab (EGL), a group that researches and produces video games, has moved to a larger office area. 

The move to 2 Boylston St. provides the eight staff members and Emerson volunteers for the group with more room, said Eric Gordon, director of EGL and visual and media arts professor. 

“Part of the goal of the space is to have new students come and say, ‘Hey I want to build this thing’ and then we will help in any way that we can,” Gordon said. “It is meant to be a creative and collaborative space for anyone interested.”

The purpose of EGL is to invent and study games that enhance civic life, according to Gordon. He said the old office was much smaller and didn’t provide enough room for students to work collaboratively together.  

EGL is an applied research lab. It is not involved with any academic program, and participation is not limited to Emerson students. Berklee College of Music students are involved with creating the sounds for the games, said Gordon.

The video games created so far at the lab have been Community PlanIt, Hub2, and Participatory Chinatown, according to Gordon. 

In 2011, Participatory Chinatown won the Best Direct Impact Game from the organization Games For Change. All of these are available free online from the EGL website. 

The latest virtual world in development is Civic Seed, a role-playing game that will be tested this winter with Tufts University students, Gordon said. 

According to Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, the researcher and visiting assistant professor at EGL and faculty member at Emerson, the purpose of Civic Seed is to see what students are learning, how they are relating that knowledge to life, if they are becoming more interested in civic issues, and if they are becoming more engaged in their communities, 

“Our goals are to understand how people engage in civic issues through both games and social media tools,” Baldwin-Philippi said.