Exploring the Potential of Play

Since earliest recorded history, people of all ages and cultures have engaged in creative play. From the Olympics of ancient Greece to today’s massively multi-player online games, human beings have consistently turned to play as a means of connecting with one another and the world around them. Modern games have brought the power of play to many endeavors – from entertainment to education, art to activism, science to socialization, and more.

At the MIT Game Lab, we explore the potential of play in all these realms, particularly as it is amplified by new technologies. Combining the inventiveness of MIT engineering and computer science with the research and design expertise of Game Lab staff, we teach, conduct research, and develop new approaches for applied game design and construction. The MIT Game Lab has a track record of innovative research and game development working with both internal and external partners.

The MIT Game Lab’s current areas of focus include:

  • Amplifying Voices: Woven into our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a focus on bringing stakeholders and communities to the design table to tackle issues around social justice and equity. Examples of projects the Lab has undertaken within this theme include working with the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia on games for social impact and the creation of the board game Promesa with partners in Puerto Rico on the subject of debt and sovereignty.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: We do work that seeks to expand participation and representation in gaming. From Prof Taylor’s co-founded non-profit AnyKey to game development tools that offer designers a way to visualize and re-imagine game characters with an eye toward better representation, our Lab places DEI initiatives at the heart of its mission.
  • Transforming Industry Practices: A final prong in our strategy is ensuring that our research and creative interventions reach actual development and platform practices. Professor Taylor sits on Twitch’s Safety Advisory Council, as well as being a regular advisor to a variety of game & platform companies. Drawing on our extensive networks with commercial partners, the Game Lab has undertaken a series of international workshops to bring exploration and creative design interventions with game developers our major themes. The Lab has also presented work at game developer conferences and non-governmental agencies like UNESCO.