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March 15: ‘Digital Games: Playing in the Valley’

A symposium on digital game development, education, and entrepreneurship is coming to Hampshire College on Thursday, March 15.

Presented by Hampshire, the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), and the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, the event features speakers who will address both theoretical and applied aspects of digital game design as well as ways the industry impacts the state and local economy.

“Students who want to know more about game design will hear from academics and people in the industry, and see how the state wants to promote game design,” said Hampshire computer science professor Paul Dickson, an organizer of the symposium.

Dickson noted that Massachusetts is working to draw game design companies to the state, as it once was one of the largest bases of the industry outside of California. That changed over the past decade, particularly during the economic downturn, and it’s hoped that symposia like this one will help spur a revitalization of the state’s gaming industry.

Hampshire College, said Dickson, has a number of students already involved in game design, and he believes that support for the College’s course offerings will grow on campus in coming years. That’s one of the reasons that the symposium is being held in Amherst.

“They wanted to put the event somewhere where there was access to interested people,” said Dickson. “It seemed like a natural fit for Hampshire. We’re trying to build a game design program here, so this is one more thing that will show our students more of what’s out there.”

Students are encouraged to sign up for the free event, which is open to the community and will be held in Franklin Patterson Hall from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Seating is limited; to register, visit playinginthevalley.eventbrite.com.

Schedule of Events:

Registration & Networking 12:30 – 1 p.m.

1 p.m. — Welcoming Remarks
Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College
Congressman Jim McGovern, 3rd Massachusetts
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray
John Musante, Amherst town manager

1:25 – 1:45 p.m.
Panel 1 — Talent and Innovation: Strengthening the Regional Economy
Helena Fruscio, Creative Industry Director, MA EOHED (moderator)
Allan Blair, President & CEO, Western Mass. EDC
Pat Larkin, Director, MTC John Adams Innovation Institute
Cong. Jim McGovern, 3rd Massachusetts
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray
John Musante, Amherst town manager

1:55 – 2:35 p.m.
Panel 2 — Creative Communities: Building Games outside the Hub
Mike Cavaretta, Atty., MBBP & Chair, MIT Ent. Forum Games SIG (moderator)
Raf Anzovin, Anzovin Studios
Fred Fierst, Atty., Fierst & Kane
Paul Hake, Hitpoint Studios
Mike Levine, HappyGiant & Pileated Pictures
Joe Minton, DDM

2:45 – 3:25 p.m.
Panel 3 ¬— Games 101: Teaching and Learning
Paul Cotnoir, Becker College (moderator)
Mark Claypool, WPI
Professor Paul Dickson, Hampshire College
Jen Groff, MIT Education Arcade/Learning Games Network
Terrence Masson, Northeastern University
Rudy Vogel, Trans Technologies LLC and Vogel & Associates
Ruth West, Springfield College

3:35 – 4:15 p.m.
Panel 4 — Beyond Entertainment: Gamification and Serious Games
Monty Sharma, MassDiGI (moderator)
Fred Fierst, Atty., Fierst & Kane
Jen Groff, MIT Education Arcade/Learning Games Network
Dave McCool, Muzzy Lane Software
Jon Radoff, Disruptor Beam
Walter Somol, Microsoft
Sharon Wood, Stone Creek Entertainment

4:20 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. — Closing Remarks
Timothy Loew, MassDiGI
Ann Burke, Western Mass. EDC
Aaron St. John, Hitpoint Studios
Professor Chris Perry, Hampshire College

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