Collaboration across creative forms
The open floor plan and close proximity of the MADD Center labs is designed to create opportunities for crossovers and collaboration. Students designing a new board game can create prototypes on the 3D printers at the Hack Arts Lab, while researchers working with the GIS Hub might reveal new insights by visualizing their data on Research Computing Center resources. The MADD Center is located near the new Department of Computer Science offices and laboratories, a science librarians’ research and teaching suite, and the Library’s collections and study spaces at a renovated Crerar Library—creating new, interdisciplinary opportunities across divisions.
“As our world becomes increasingly digital, designers and artists need to become more engaged with technology and technologists need to become more fluent with design, media and the arts,” said Michael J. Franklin, the Liew Family Chair of Computer Science. “By co-locating a critical mass of tech-savvy students and faculty with diverse skills and interests across these varied domains, we will facilitate robust dialogue and collaboration as our disciplines continue to co-evolve.”
The MADD Center is envisioned as a place for a group of students dissecting the structure of a classic Nintendo game, or sketching out the visual design for a new card game that teaches high school students about teen pregnancy. A cornerstone of the new center, the Weston Game Lab, will provide a vibrant new space at UChicago for the research and design of the world’s fastest-growing cultural and aesthetic form: games.
The Weston Game Lab is supported by a gift from Dr. Shellwyn Weston and Bradford Weston, JD’77. Within the Lab, students, faculty and staff will collaborate on the research and development of games that produce social impact or experiment with form. Participants also will be able to research the history of games from technical and theoretical perspectives with the Library’s collection of video games and the Logan Center’s collection of consoles, attend workshops that afford new development skills, and organize collaborative groups for game-based experiments.
“Video games in recent years have become an immensely popular medium and multi-billion-dollar industry,” said Patrick Jagoda, Associate Professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies and director of the Weston Game Lab. “For cultural, psychological and sociopolitical reasons, we need rigorous academic study, across both humanistic and social scientific disciplines. I’m interested in growing a culture of thoughtful, ethical and experimental game design for ends other than entertainment that includes interdisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students. I think the University of Chicago can really shine in this space.”