Champlain College further committed to electronic games and serious games

Champlain College creates the Emergent Media Center,
expanding its commitment to electronic game initiatives

BURLINGTON, Vt.--Champlain College is building upon the success of some of its most innovative academic programs with the unveiling of the Emergent Media Center.

Directed by Ann DeMarle, who founded Champlain College’s Electronic Game & Interactive Development program in 2004, the Center will strengthen connections between the international game and interactive development industries, Champlain students and faculty, and businesses. The Center will advance the use of emergent media such as games, social networks, blogs and wikis for broader purposes. This includes collaborating with organizations to develop “serious games” -- games that harness technology for non-entertainment purposes, such as to enhance learning and training or to create positive change.

“We’re building an environment that fosters creativity, entrepreneurship and professional skills in our students in emergent media fields, particularly electronic game development,” DeMarle said. “We want to help define future uses of media technologies and content creation.”

Champlain’s Electronic Game & Interactive Development and Electronic Game Programming degrees were among the first bachelor’s degrees in the nation modeled after the team-based game development industry. Now the Emergent Media Center will offer incubator support for student endeavors and faculty-led emergent media projects, and it will coordinate game industry partnerships and internships. The Center will also sponsor conferences and speakers and promote ties between Vermont-based and international companies.

Today, researchers and organizations are recognizing the power of serious games as an engaging teaching tool. In an October report, the Federation of American Scientists declared that video games and the skills they teach students have the potential to reshape education.

Organizations are invited to apply to the Emergent Media Center to collaborate on future projects. Projects currently under consideration include games that focus on environmental management, health care and economic development.

All Champlain students, regardless of their degree program, will be able to contribute a range of talents to every project. Business students become project managers; education students inform content creation for best learning practices; community service students collaborate to address issues in new ways; and software engineering, marketing and broadcasting students can work as part of the development team.

Champlain students have already worked on serious games; one teaches middle-school children about the dangers of mercury. The “Mission Mercury” animated video and accompanying game created for Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation are now found on the Center’s Web site at www.champlain.edu/centers/emc.

Champlain junior Renee Gillett is working on a Flash-based history game for young visitors to a traveling exhibit about founding father Alexander Hamilton. “Whether they play to have fun or play to learn, they will be exposed to information about Hamilton,” she said.

“We are truly entering a Renaissance world -- one where cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary possibilities emerge via technology, art and communications,” DeMarle said. “Our center will help drive that cross-pollination of ideas.”

DeMarle, formerly the director of the Electronic Game & Interactive Development and Multimedia & Graphic Design programs, is now directing her energies to the Center's mission. In her new position, she is the first recipient of the Roger H. Perry Endowed Chair, which was established to support initiatives promoting innovation, change and entrepreneurship at the College.

DeMarle has had a long career in computer graphics that includes creating multimedia programs for AT&T, video graphics for Lockheed Martin and 3D animations and illustrations for IBM Research. Much of her work has involved the integration of education and technology. She has been the director of the Governor's Institute of Vermont in Information Technology, and she trains Vermont teachers on using technology in the classroom to enhance student learning as an instructor and mentor for the Web Project and as an organizer of the Champlain College/VITA-Learn Dynamic Landscapes program. In 2004, DeMarle was named an Apple Computer Distinguished Educator.

The Web site for Champlain College’s Emergent Media Center is found at http://www.champlain.edu/centers/emc/.

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