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Celia Pearce

It has been an exciting semester for CAMD’s Game Design program. Games faculty member Celia Pearce was recently announced to be the keynote speaker for the upcoming BostonFIG Learns Conference, taking place February 9 and 10, 2019. The BostonFIG Learns event is a new addition to the fourth annual game creator’s conference called BostonFIG Talks. Both the “Learns” and “Talks” events are hosted by Massachusetts-based Boston FIG, an organization and festival that is dedicated to fostering the next generation of game developers. Through youth outreach, small-business initiatives, and ongoing programming and events, BostonFIG strives to strengthen the independent game development industry.

BostonFIG Talks was founded to connect independent professionals and aspiring game design students with resources and networking opportunities needed to flourish in the industry. This year, the first day of the conference will be BostonFIG Talks, while the second day, the new program will run. Day one will consist of several speakers covering a variety of topics from design and methodology to technology and art. The next day, BostonFIG Learns, will focus more on education-focused games; bringing teachers and students together to learn about museum games, hands-on learning games, and academic research. The event in its entirety aims to foster a community where game creators can learn from one another, collaborate, and present their designs.

Celia Pearce, Associate Professor of Game Design, will give her keynote address on the second day of the conference. Dr. Pearce is actually the co-recipient, along with former Northeastern faculty member Gillian Smith, of the 2016 BostonFIG award for Most Innovative Tabletop Game for their electronic quilt game eBee, which was funded by a CAMD faculty development grant.

She is also the co-founder of IndieCade, the festival which has had a hand in launching a number of highly acclaimed and best-selling independent games. Dr. Pearce’s keynote, entitled “Strange Bedfellows: Academia and the Indie Games Ecosystem,” will explore the role of Universities in fueling the huge explosion in the independent game scene.

“The role of academia in the indie games ecosystem is really an untold story. Most press accounts put forth this ‘lone genius’ narrative, but it turns out that academia has played a major role in nearly every aspect of the ecosystem, from incubating new studios, to supporting festivals, to promoting the adoption of new platforms like mobile and VR. Few people realize, for example, how many PlayStation Network games have their origins at Universities.”

The founder, CEO, and mastermind behind BostonFIG Talks—as well as this BostonFIG Learns—also has strong ties to the CAMD community. Caroline Murphy, Graduate Games Program faculty, cofounded this conference in 2016. She, like Pearce, is a game designer. She is very involved in the gaming community; she is on the Board of Directors for Be Epic Inc. and is the Chief Creative Officer for Incantrix Productions. Murphy is also involved in Northeastern’s Playable Theatre Project, a CAMD-funded interdisciplinary collaboration between games and theatre, headed up by Dr. Pearce and Theatre faculty member Dani Snyder-Young. She played an integral part in planning BostonFIG Learns and has hopes that this new segment will allow for a new gaming dialogue to begin; one about education.

“For a number of years, we’ve received submissions for BostonFIG Talks that were oriented around education and learning in games. We felt these were important, but didn’t fit well within the Talks programming,” Murphy explained. “Without them, we were missing a large and important aspect of games; their power to teach. We created BostonFIG Learns for this reason. Our aim is to create a platform for academics, educators, game creators and students to share their knowledge.”

Congratulations Dr. Pearce on this opportunity to share your expertise with these conference attendees, aspiring game design students and professionals from all over Boston.

“It’s a real honor to be asked to keynote, and Caroline Murphy represents one of the unique features of our games program—the blend of full-time faculty with local practitioners who are the movers and shakers of the industry,” Dr. Pearce concluded.