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Kyros Jalife, an alumnus of Northeastern’s Master of Science (MS) in Game Science and Design program, is a game designer who applies psychological theory and narrative to his work with the goal of creating meaningful gameplay. Taking a research-based approach, he has developed several thought-provoking and engaging games, in both the narrative and casual game categories. Most recently, he has been researching meaning-creation through games, or how games can facilitate meaningful experiences, independently of their utilitarian or ethical attributes.

From this work, he recently wrote an article (featured in Gamasutra) about the creative dynamics that take place between games and players, originally published on Medium. In this piece, he explores two creative processes that occur during gameplay: one in which the player projects its creativity into the game and another where the game projects its creativity into the player.

“In the first scenario (player to game), the player has creative freedom to interact with the game without having to deal (from a cognitive standpoint) with concepts that the game is pushing, and is thus able to draw meaning from the gameplay interaction itself” explained Kyros. “In the second scenario (game to player), it is a creative idea coming from the game (a theme or narrative) that directs the gameplay experience and provides meaning to the experience.”

This idea of creative control – and whether the player or the game directs the experience – relates to the topics that Kyros has been exploring for several years now.

“Unlike most things out there, I believe games as a medium are in a unique position to facilitate meaningful experiences both by providing freedom and by communicating ideas” Kyros explained. “That’s why I find games so interesting.”

Incorporating cognitive science into his studies and projects was central to his experience in Northeastern’s Games program, where he was a Fulbright Fellow. He has published a paper related to flow in video games and has another paper in the works. We look forward to seeing what is next!