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PLAY, the short film I co-created with director David Kaplan about a future in which everything is a game, has been selected to be part of the PBS Online Film Festival. I’m not sure what we might win, but if you visit our film’s page, be sure to click on the LIKE button, which acts as a vote for the audience award.

Also, let me take this opportunity to say that PLAY is not a prefiguration of what is now called gamification. At least for me, it is not meant to be a film that envisions some kind of game-like future which may or may not come to pass. In fact it is the opposite – it is not a film about games, but rather a film that uses the idea of games as a metaphor to talk about what it feels like to live in our alienating hypermediated society. Of course it goes without saying that you are free to interpret the film however you like. Enjoy.

This week an article I wrote appeared in Gamasutra.com, a website dedicated to the game development community. The article is Jerked around by the Magic Circle – Clearing the Air Ten Years Later. It’s about the seminal “magic circle” concept that has been plaguing game design and game studies, for better or for worse, since my textbook Rules of Play came out.

The genesis of the article was attending an academic game conference in Vienna this fall, and listening to paper after paper bashing the idea of the magic circle. The problem was not only that I was largely the one whose ideas were being attacked, but the concepts attributed to me were confused and inaccurate. This happens so often with this magic circle idea that I decided to try and set the record straight in an essay.

The result is an article that is in part autobiographical and in part theoretical. I did manage to write about some of the other things I am interested in these days, such as how disciplines collide in the study of games and the nature of design as theory. I’ve been told it’s a humorous and enjoyable read.

Since the audience for the article is really the academic game studies crowd, I first approached Gamestudies.org but I was told that it just wasn’t scholarly enough of a piece for that site. (And to be honest, it’s not in any way a scholarly work.) Although there are other great academic game journals like Game Culture, I wanted to put the essay on the internet in order to facilitate discussion around the piece. So far the comments on Gamasutra are piling up and I look forward to the discussion that this essay might generate.

I’ve been part of the NYU Game Center since it started, and we’ve recently made an important announcement: we are starting our MFA program. The Game Center MFA has been in the works for years, and it’s amazing that we can finally start taking applications for our first class that will begin in the fall of 2012.

The focus of the MFA is the idea of games as a creative practice, and students can enter with a focus in programming, game design, visual design, criticism, or some combination of these.  We’re certainly not the first program to offer a game-related Masters program, but our rigorous focus on the craft of game design, combined with a creative studio focus and a strong scholarly component, is a very unique mix. Plus, we’re in New York City – arguably the world capital for independent and experimental game design.

There is plenty of information about the program on the NYU Game Center website, but if you are interested, one good place to start is this video from Frank Lantz, the Director of the Game Center. Applications are open now through March 1.

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