January 24, 2024

Can Games Disturb Your Social Biases Without Disturbing You?

Card games are more often associated with family-gatherings or leisurely afternoons than with realizing social change. However, one group of game designers is creating games with an aim to do just that.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 4.39.04 PMTiltfactor Lab, a Dartmouth College research laboratory with Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor Mary Flanagan at the helm, is dedicated to “creating games for social change.” They designed and produce Buffalo—described by Amazon reviewers as an “extremely simple,” “adaptable” party game—and Awkward Moment—and is “an interesting, family-friendly card game that is worthy of your attention” and “makes you laugh”— provide more than just endless fun at parties. According to a paper to be printed in CyberPsychology’s upcoming issue devoted to the prosocial effects of games, Buffalo and Awkward Moment are also games with a proven purpose. These games have been shown to change players’ implicit biases without them ever knowing!

January 22, 2022

Mary Flanagan and Tiltfactor Alum Gili Freedman Publish New Article in Technology, Mind, and Behavior

Tiltfactor founding director Mary Flanagan and Tiltfactor alum Gili Freedman (currently Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland) recently collaborated on an article entitled “The Effect of Embodying a Woman Scientist in Virtual Reality on Men’s Gender Biases” for the peer-reviewed, open-access journal Technology, Mind, and Behavior.

Flanagan and Freedman, along with collaborators Max Seidman (Tiltfactor Senior Game Designer) and Melanie Green (Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Communication at the University of Buffalo) tested “whether embodying a woman scientist in virtual reality (VR) leads to more positive attitudes toward women in STEM.”

May 5, 2020

Go to NarraScope!

NarraScope is just a cool cool event, and this year it’s pay what you can and online. NarraScope 2020: Celebrating Narrative Games May 28 – June 4  2020. On Thursday May 28, we discovered that Matthew Farber is running “Terrifically Awkward: Games To Teach Social Emotional Learning” using our very own Awkward Moment party card game for middle school age kids and older. Hurray! The game is backordered at Uncommon Goods, whah! but is available on Amazon.

May 15, 2019

Student Perspectives: Grace Dorgan

Grace is a sophomore at Dartmouth College doing game design, development, and research at Tiltfactor

There’s a reason computer science majors are stereotyped as being socially awkward. It’s because we are. That’s why when I started working at Tiltfactor, the one part of the job I was not sure I could handle was the communication with other people. It is also the area of the job that I have learned the most from.

March 31, 2017

Flanagan Honored by Educational Video Game Org

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by @ 11:59 am

Our lab director, Mary Flanagan, is one of thirty fellows in the Higher Education Video Game Alliance. Read more about it in the Dartmouth news.


May 23, 2016

Mary Flanagan receives honorary doctorate in Design

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On the 14th of May 2016, Tiltfactor’s director, Mary Flanagan, received an Honorary Doctorate in Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She was honored with an honorary degree with Ray Kurzweil, inventor, and Chris Gladwin, entrepreneur.

The degree recognized, among other significant contributions, the innovative focus human values in design, and research into gender in computing, in her work.


Mary Flanagan (Center) with President Cramb (Left), Ray Kurzweil, and Provost Frances Bronet (Right)


May 9, 2016

Digital Media May Be Changing How You Think

from Tiltfactor
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Media contact: Amy Olson | amy.d.olson@dartmouth.edu | 603-646-3274

Digital Media May Be Changing How You Think
New Study Finds Users Focus on Concrete Details Rather than the Big Picture

HANOVER, N.H. – May 9, 2016 – Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI ’16, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, held May 7-12. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.

March 24, 2016

History of New Media Lecture by Flanagan

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March is a time of many talks! Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan spoke at the History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series at the University of California Berkeley. The audience represented those interested in art, dance, post colonial studies, gender studies, game design, and even peace studies. It was fantastic to meet you all!


August 11, 2014

Nancy Tovar Collection and Metadata Games

Tiltfactor Lab is pioneering an innovative method for data preservation. Metadata Games aims to be a useful and fun means of preserving archival materials as libraries and museums move into an increasingly digitalized world. Metadata Games aims to be a means to draw in larger communities to help libraries, museums, and archives to augment their records of materials. Through crowdsourcing, the games being developed take advantage of the powers of technology and societal efforts in order to “tag” and code material to represent the content and meaning of media items. The most common and standardized format for the generation of metadata is to create tags, in the form of single words or short phrases. In order to make media items, such as photographs, films, and audio clips, more accessible, those archives must be presented with accurate descriptions and connections with similar work or information.

May 13, 2013

AERA 2013!

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Members of the Tiltfactor team attended the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco and presented research on games designed for our BIAS project!

Geoff introduced our work by discussing the goals of our lab and the theories behind our BIAS research. We then talked about our games Awkward Moment and buffalo and played a few rounds of each game with the audience. The attendees were receptive of our games and eagerly joined in to play! Geoff finished our discussion by presenting data to show that our games can help players think of themselves and others in ways that reduce the effects of implicit bias. The audience seemed particularly interested that we presented evidence of some transformation in players’ thinking – we love evidence-based research, too! We had a wonderful and engaged audience and thank them for attending our session and for their thoughtful questions about our work.

February 15, 2013

The League of Extraordinary Tiltfactor Seeks Ingenious Researcher

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Tiltfactor Laboratory at Dartmouth College is seeking applications for a postdoctoral research position in Learning Sciences and Assessment for the 2013-2014 academic year. The postdoctoral researcher will be affiliated with Tiltfactor Laboratory (http://www.tiltfactor.org), the leading group in values-conscious game design and research, which is led by Dr. Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities and Professor of Film & Media Studies at Dartmouth.


September 26, 2012

Tiltfactor Intern invited to talk about Presidential Scholar Research with the Dartmouth Class of 1959

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The Presidential Scholars Program at Dartmouth enables juniors to work closely with faculty on research projects. During the 2011-12 school year, I was one of three Presidential Scholars working at Tiltfactor. This past winter and spring, I learned quite a bit about game design and game research while working on a number of projects at the lab. I focused primarily on contributing to NSF-funded BIAS studies on reworking stereotypes and biases and to research involving POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE, although I also assisted with various outreach events and general lab tasks.

August 14, 2012

Tiltfactor hosts Gamecrafting Workshop at the AVA Gallery

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What a busy summer at the Tiltfactor Laboratory! As we have been preparing for GenCon and working on our games, we also spent some time at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH hosting a Gamecrafting Workshop for local youth.

We had a wonderful week getting to know our campers and helping them design games! On Monday, campers played games such as Awkward Moment™ and Battleship to learn about games and what makes a game fun. On Tuesday, campers incorporated the game design ideas they learned from Dr. Flanagan and the Tilt staff to create the first prototypes of their games.

August 1, 2012

Tiltfactor Laboratory announces two new party games: buffalo and Awkward Moment

from tiltfactor
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For Immediate Release
Contact: info @ maryflanagan.com

August 1, 2012 (Hanover, NH)Tiltfactor Laboratory proudly presents two new games: buffalo™ and Awkward Moment™. buffalo is a card game of quick wits and zany combinations that requires players to flex their recollection muscles. In each round, players race to make matches using cards listing noun and adjective descriptors. The first to shout out the name of a real person or fictional character who matches the descriptors on two or more word cards, claims the matched cards, and flips over a new noun/adjective pair. When the deck runs out, the player who collected the most cards wins.

July 31, 2012

Tiltfactor Laboratory receives NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Grant to Expand Metadata Games, Add Other Media Formats

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:00 am

(pdf version)

contact -at- tiltfactor -dot- org
(603) 646-1007

July 31, 2012 (Hanover, NH)The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced that Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan is one of seven award recipients in the endowment’s inaugural Digital Humanities Implementation Grant program. The Digital Humanities Implementation grants “support the implementation of innovative digital humanities projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and demonstrated their value to the field.”

July 2, 2012

Notes from Games for Health 2012

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Games for Health was awesome! Two weeks ago I gave a talk and demo at Ludica Medica II: Medical Modeling, Simulation, Learning & Training with Videogames & Videogame Technologies, an all-day event as part of the Games for Health Conference week in Boston. The day was filled with combination of larger discussions and game-specific talks, including my talk on the development and subsequent studies on POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE (available both as a board game and for iPad). Concurrently with the Ludica Medica session, the Out & About III: Mobile Serious Games Day was running as was Enabled Play: The Fourth Annual Games Accessibility Day. With all of these events happening at the same time, I jumped in and out of many great presentations and discussions covering such topics as exergaming apps, a program that helped families of military veterans with PSTD, and subversive game design. Below are some of my observations and quotes heard from the day:

June 1, 2012

IndieCade Exhibit to Showcase Tiltfactor Laboratory’s ZOMBIEPOX at 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo

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(PDF version here)



Tiltfactor Laboratory is pleased to announce that ZOMBIEPOX™ has been selected for the IndieCade showcase at the 2012 annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 5th to June 7th. E3 is presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and is the world’s premier trade show for video game and related industries, with last year’s attendance peaking at 46,800.

May 16, 2012

Tiltfactor Director Mary Flanagan to speak at Prominent Art and Game Symposia

from tiltfactor
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(PDF version here)



Dr. Mary Flanagan, director of Tiltfactor Laboratory and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, will deliver several talks this summer and fall on such topics as critical play, games as an art form, and games as a medium for social change. Scheduled venues include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Games for Change Festival, and the IndieCade Conference.

April 4, 2012

A Study on Board Games and Numeracy: Analysis, Implications, and Future Directions

from tiltfactor
by @ 4:46 am

Can you learn math skills through moving your token in a board game? Geetha Ramani, a professor at the University of Maryland, and Robert Siegler, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, have published a study that suggests that low-income preschoolers demonstrated more proficiency on mathematical tasks after playing a linear number board game.

The researchers were interested in studying preschoolers’ math skills, specifically how children think about the relationships between numbers. According to prior research by Siegler, preschoolers do not yet have a linear representation of numbers, which is a concept that, once mastered, correlates with a variety of tasks related to superior mathematical performance (Siegler & Booth, 2004).

November 28, 2011

Multiple Forms of Interaction in Games

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Recent developments in digital game hardware allows for multiple methods of interacting with a given game. For example, the Nintendo DS incorporated the use of both a stylus-based touchscreen and tangible game control buttons. Similarly, Android and iOS games often use a combination of touchscreen controls and accelerometer-based controls.

In these platforms, there is often a moment in which players must transition from one mode of interaction to another, or use both simultaneously. I believe this transition or need to multitask a player’s mode(s) of interaction can be utilized to develop new skills.

November 23, 2011

Mind/Games #1: Reducing Implicit Bias with Games

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:09 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here’s a little more (okay, a lot more) to digest along with your turkey (or tofurkey) this year…

Given that one of the major goals of Tiltfactor’s current research is to design games aimed at reducing implicit bias held toward (or by) women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), I thought it would be worthwhile to take a step back and discuss what psychologists have discovered about implicit bias – and how games might be an especially powerful means of reducing or combating it.


November 7, 2011

Game Day at Lebanon Public Library!

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by @ 6:15 pm

Attention NH/VT Upper Valley kids!

The Tilt team is heading to the library, and we’re bringing our games with us!

On November 12th, we will bring many classic games (such as Set, Uno, and Apples to Apples) as well as our own mid-design stage games for some fun times.

We hope you’ll join us as with games, it’s always the more the merrier!

Game Day
Saturday, Nov. 12
Lebanon Public Library

Mark your Calendars!

October 31, 2011

POX now available on iPad!

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Happy Halloween everyone! We’ve been keeping this a secret for sometime now and we’re happy to announce that POX: Save the People® is now available for the iPad!

All of us here at the Tiltfactor Lab are very excited about the release!

Based on our board game, POX: Save the People® is a 1-4 player game in which players fight the spread of a disease that threatens to take over a community. The game is based on the way a typical disease spreads, and players must work together to contain the spread of infection by either vaccinating or curing citizens.

October 26, 2011

Building Spatial Skills Through Puyo Puyo Games

from tiltfactor
by @ 5:54 pm

Puyo Puyo games are simple puzzle games that require the player to rotate falling pairs of objects to build combos of four or more of the same color.  If the objects aren’t matched, they stack up and if they reach the top, the game is over.  As the levels progress, players must rotate the pairs more quickly in order to survive, as the speed at which the pairs drop increases.

Examples of combos in Puyo Puyo games

One commercially successful example of a Puyo Puyo game that I played as a child is Sega’s Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine.  The final level is depicted below, so you can get an idea of the gameplay.

October 17, 2011

Why So Few? Hmmm?

from tiltfactor
by @ 7:58 pm

Why SO Few report

Our entire team has read the research report by the Association of American University Women (AAUW) that offers compelling evidence to help explain what is going on in the US with science, technology, math and science and women. By the way, in 1885, a group of AAUW members conducted a survey that debunked the popular theory that higher education was bad for women’s health. . . So, thanks to the organization for that one, and for more contemporary research on women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

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