Special Events

Plenary Panel 

For our plenary panel we invite four experts to consider the state of game-based learning today. What are the problems in higher education that game-based learning might address, and what are the problems in game-based learning in higher education? How can we ensure that games engage our students while remaining student-centered? We welcome discussion of these and other issues by our panelists, who represent diverse experience in higher education and game design and development.


Josh Debonis, Game Designer, Sortasoft

Josh DeBonis is a game designer, programmer, and musician. He is currently President of BumbleBear Games, a new independent game studio focused on designing multiplayer arcade games. Joshua is a co-founder of NYC-Playtest and the experimental collective Brooklyn Game Ensemble. He has taught game design and development at Parsons the New School for Design and the NYU Game Center. Recent designs include the acclaimed 10-player arcade game Killer Queen, and the forthcoming historical role-playing game Meriwether.

Carlos Hernandez 1

Carlos Hernandez, Professor, English Department, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Carlos Hernandez is an Associate Professor of English at BMCC and a member of the doctoral faculty at The Graduate Center, CUNY. A fiction writer, he is the author of over 30 published works of short fiction, and his first collection of stories, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, will be released at the end of January 2016. His writing has led him to work as a narrative and design consultant for numerous art installations, board games, and video games, including Meriwether, the grant- and Kickstarter-funded Lewis and Clark CRPG on which he serves as lead writer and a game designer. He is a founding member of the New York Board Games Designers Group and the CUNY Games Festival.


Jennifer Mangels, Professor, Psychology Department, Baruch College, CUNY

Jennifer Mangels joined the Baruch College Psychology Department as an Associate Professor in 2007, and was promoted to Professor in 2012. She was elected Department Chair in 2015. Prior to joining Baruch, she was a faculty member at Columbia University for nine years, where she remains a Senior Adjunct Research Associate. At Baruch, she is Principal Investigator of the Dynamic Learning Lab, whose research goals are, broadly speaking, to understand the complex manner in which attention, learning, and memory interact, from multiple perspectives that integrate social, cognitive and affective neuroscience. See http://www.mangelslab.org/ for more information on her current projects.


Leah Potter, Senior Instructional Designer, Electric Funstuff

Leah Potter is a senior instructional designer at Electric Funstuff, an educational software company based in New York City. Her current projects include Mission US, an award-winning series of video games aimed at middle school students about transformational moments in U.S. history (which as of 2016 has over 1 million registered players) and ThinkZone, a DOE-funded platform that makes it easy for teachers and students to find and use outstanding learning games. Before joining Electric Funstuff, Potter spent almost a decade at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center as a historian, educator, and media producer. She has also taught undergraduate history and interdisciplinary studies courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. As a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she wrote on journalist Nellie Bly and popular attitudes towards American expansion in the late nineteenth century.

Day 1 Workshop: Game Design as a Classroom Laboratory for any Discipline

robCo-organizer Robert O. Duncan (www.transformativegames.org) will discuss the potential of a new learning genre, Game Design Based Learning, to engage students in undergraduate research. This genre is based upon theories from the Learning Sciences, Design-Based Research, and Game-Based Learning. This genre also follows recommendations from the Council on Undergraduate Research, which advocates infusing research-like experiences and creative scholarship into the classroom. The workshop will briefly review theories of learning before describing a course architecture where students design and implement an original game-based learning experience for social or behavioral impact. In creating this learning experience, students will (1) learn more about their chosen topic of interest by reviewing the primary literature; (2) learn about the rationale and methodology of design-based research; (3) learn how to generate state-of-the art digital experiences using commercial game engines and the C# programming language; (4) learn advanced statistics as needed for their project; (5) learn how to disseminate their research product via the Internet and mobile technologies; and (6) they will have opportunities to present their work at local and national research conferences. The workshop will also discuss how these methods can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines, and feedback from attendees will be solicited to address potential problems for the genre. (Sponsored by the CUNY Advance Startup Grant)

Day 2 Workshop: Playing and Redesigning Commercial Board Games For Training and Instruction


joe2Co-organizer Joe Bisz (www.joebisz.com) will be facilitating this unique workshop of his own design. This is a 2-hour event where faculty and staff can play a few carefully selected commercial board games together. While playing, they will read over reference cards that not only break down each of these popular game’s core mechanics, but explain how the game might be re-designed for any training or instructional exercise. When finished playing, they will pick one lesson or instructional goal, and spend 30 minutes designing a new instructional game, one that mimics and is inspired by the first game.

A Conference on Game-based Learning in Higher Education