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!

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.

December 14, 2017

Design thinking, climate & farming

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by @ 3:15 pm

There’s a new article by Matt Hongoltz-Hetling (@hh_matt) on Iowa farming strategies at the Weather Channel featuring some ideas from Professor Flanagan about motivating sustainable farming! There is other commentary from other faculty here at Dartmouth as well. Enjoy thinking about motivating sustainable behavior!! (Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes).

December 5, 2017

Tiltfactor 2017 Year in Review

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June 22, 2017

Seeking a Graphic Designer at Tiltfactor!

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Typographers, fashionators, and makers of things most beautiful: Mary Flanagan and the Tiltfactor team are looking for an inventive new partner in design! We just posted an opportunity for an excellent graphic designer in our creative lab for social impact at Dartmouth College.

We do both print and digital projects, as you likely know, so we are looking for someone with a broad range of skills. Apply with your portfolio if you have inventive design chops and care about our mission. Remote work is possible, but for us to consider that, please be both an excellent designer and very organized.   The official posting is here!

June 29, 2016

Flanagan honored with Vanguard Award from Games for Change

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Tiltfactor’s director Mary Flanagan was honored at the 13th Annual Games for Change Festival in June 2016!

Flanagan was awarded the Vanguard Award. This award recognizes the significant contributions of a practitioner by being a champion, advocate, and mentor for a new generation of game creators, and rewards outstanding individuals in impact games.

The Games for Change Festival organizers noted that Flanagan is:

“… A leading innovator, artist, educator and designer, whose works have included everything from game-inspired art, to commercial games that shift people’s thinking about biases and stereotypes. Flanagan established the internationally recognized game research laboratory Tiltfactor in 2003 to invent “humanist” games and take on social change through games.”

July 7, 2014

Geoff Attends Human Computation Roadmap Summit in DC

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Tiltfactor researcher Geoff recently represented the lab (and the Metadata Games project in particular) at the 2014 Human Computation Roadmap Summit, held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, from June 18-20. This 2.5 day workshop, which brought together a diverse array of scholars, researchers, and industry representatives from the field of human computation, focused on identifying key success stories and laying out potential future research directions concerning the use of various facets of human computation (including systems such as crowdsourcing platforms, social networks, and online games) for the betterment of society. In addition to utilizing a number of unique and creative approaches to trigger thought and discussion (e.g., an illuminating conversation with scientist and author David Brin centering on the value of science fiction in highlighting future horizons for human computation), the summit gave participants the opportunity to form smaller working groups to devise and iteratively refine a set of detailed research roadmaps for the potential employment of human computation to address a particular social cause or issue.

June 30, 2014

Max Presents Tiltfactor Research at Games for Health 2014

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Earlier this month Tiltfactor game designer Max Seidman represented the lab at the annual Games for Health conference in Boston. The conference is exactly what it sounds like: a place where game experts, health professionals, and health stakeholders come together to share innovations in improving health and health care through games, as well as to be inspired to make further breakthroughs!

July 12, 2013

Full launch of Play Southend tomorrow!

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We are excited to launch Play Southend, an online game to imagine the future of Southend-On-Sea in the UK, tomorrow at the Village Green arts and music festival! Play Southend draws on open participatory techniques to develop a collective vision of the town created by its communities. In the game, players — of all ages and experiences — take on challenges, such as obstacles and prizes, that are entirely created by community members. Players play over time and the world grows through endless drawings.

April 29, 2013

Celebrating Different Games

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The first ever “Different Games” conference in 2013 was a resounding success. What a receptive community and the organizers, presenters, and attendees were all passionate, smart, and offered so much as game designers, writers, and researchers. I’ve never been to a conference that started off by following an inclusiveness statement, and now that I have, I think it is a great idea to get folks on the same page and open for what is to come. I sat in on the Queering Games panel run by Naomi Clark and Riley MacLeod; then went to the Twine workshop and read great IF/games by the Twine community. After that, there was a tremendous modding exercise of Awkward Moment where huge groups make their own in order to provoke discussion.

November 19, 2012

Creative Thinking

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The world we live in is constantly changing, and there has been a shift toward looking for new solutions to old problems through creative thinking. I have a great interest in social change through social enterprise and the ways in which organizations can strategize to maximize improvements in people’s well being. My work at Tiltfactor has only expanded my interest in making change in the world through creative thinking. As a former Mathematics major, I learned how to break down difficult problems into a series of tractable steps in order to find a solution. I was taught the habit of critical thinking: testing my conclusions to make sure they are based on adequate data and accurate reasoning. As necessary as this thinking is, I felt that I did not “think outside the box” enough. I was challenged but not challenged outside of my analytical thinking skills. I was looking for answers without really developing and acknowledging the ways in which I was getting there. The work I have done at Tiltfactor, especially having the opportunity to participate in game design, has allowed me to dive into my creative thinking and incorporate it not only to my work at the lab but outside of it as well.

November 3, 2012

Tiltfactor games receive Meaningful Play 2012 awards for Best Digital Game, Best Non-Digital Game

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contact [at] tiltfactor[.]org
(603) 646-1007

November 3, 2012 (Hanover, NH)Meaningful Play 2012 has awarded Tiltfactor Best Digital Game for POX: Save the People™ for iPad, Best Non-Digital Game for the party card game Awkward Moment™, and runner-up for Best Non-Digital Game for another Tiltfactor party card game, buffalo™. Each game went through a competitive peer review process for inclusion in Meaningful Play, with awards decided by conference attendees.

November 2, 2012

Meaningful Play 2012 – Recap

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Postdoctoral researcher Geoff recently represented Tiltfactor at the International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play, held at Michigan State University. The conference brought together over 250 attendees representing more than 10 countries, all joined in the quest of designing and studying games that aim to enlighten, educate, inform, or persuade players in significant ways. During the three-day event, Geoff attended a number of inspiring keynote talks from the likes of Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler, John Ferrara, Donald Brinkman, and Michael John, and panel discussions on topics ranging from “games for health” to “games and gender.” In addition, Geoff presented the Tiltfactor games Awkward Moment, buffalo, and POX for iPad at the conference reception and game exhibition, and delivered two well-received talks: one highlighting the completed games and initial research findings from the lab’s National Science Foundation-funded project to design games to reduce gender stereotypes in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and the second presenting the lab’s Metadata Games project as part of a panel exploring the interface between games and data. Special thanks to Carrie Heeter, Brian Winn, and the conference co-chairs, as well as Carrie Cole and the Michigan State graduate students, for organizing such a fantastic and inspiring conference!

August 1, 2012

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

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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.

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

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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.

March 18, 2012

I’ll be at TransTalks this week

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I will be speaking on behalf of my artistic practice and Tiltfactor with Christopher Robbins, of the Ghana Think Tank, at TransTalks: Practice Makes Practice, a series of conversations among invited speakers, the MFA students in the Parsons Transdisciplinary Design program, and the public dedicated to exploring design’s capacity to investigate, disassemble and reframe the political, economic and social forces that define our everyday practices.

The goal for Flanagan is to allow the conversation to follow a similar path to the design process:  How do each of these artist/designers decide upon their design question? What methodologies are developed that shape that question? What outcomes could be considered successful? And importantly, in the form of a post-mortem across several projects as a reflective form of practice, How does failure play into particular experimental design endeavors?

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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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 17, 2011

¡POX en español!

from tiltfactor
by @ 10:51 pm

¡Algo nuevo! ¡Tenemos las instrucciones para POX: Salve la gente, en español! Descargue las aquí.

Why So Few? Hmmm?

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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.

September 19, 2011

DiGRA 2011 – Tiltfactor Wrapup

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The Tiltfactor team was busy at DiGRA 2011. Thursday September 15th, I presented (with  Jonathan Belman)  our paper on the design approach behind POX: Save the People. Friday September 16th, Jonathan Belman shared our latest paper on our Grow-A-Game cards, “Grow-A-Game: A Tool for Values Conscious Design and Analysis of Digital Games,” with audience members on Friday. Read the essays now!


Digra2011 – GrowAGameTool-BelmanNissenbaumFlanaganDiamond
See below for full citations on these articles!

September 1, 2009

1/2 of GTxA Gather at DiGRA 2009

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by @ 8:50 am

nullMichael Mateas, Noah Wardrip Fruin, and Mary Flanagan, half of the art-theory collaboration Grand Text Auto, gathered at the Digital Games Research Association’s 2009 Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory in Uxbridge, UK. Mateas is speaking on “Operational Logics,” Wardrip Fruin’s paper is “Agency Reconsidered,” and Flanagan is presenting the co-written paper, “Anxiety, Openness and Activist Games: A Case Study for Critical Play,” and speaking in an interactive workshop called ““Some Assembly Required”: Starting and Growing a Game Lab.” In between these presentations, both of Flanagan’s more recent books (Critical Play and re:SKIN), and Wardrip Fruin’s Expressive Processing are available in the MIT bookshop on site!

August 26, 2009

Using Playtime Productively!

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by @ 11:37 am

Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan was interviewed in, “Labeling Library Archives Is a Game at Dartmouth College” in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the new NEH project called “Metadata Games.” The interview perhaps overplays the “free labour” aspect of the game itself. Using play time in novel, productive ways likely harms no one. If the game is fun, engaging, and playful, it will attract players, and players will like to play regardless if the hours are “productive” or “wasteful.”
players collaborate with [giantJoystick]
At Tiltfactor, we have a philosophy that play is not a useless activity. Players are constantly learning and growing through game play. Play promotes collaboration and experimentation. If it does even more than that? We say, YAY! – IF it contributes to the Commons and to access to knowledge for the public.

May 29, 2009

Inspirational Examples

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by @ 12:56 am

Heads up from Frank Lantz at Games for Change 2009 for some inspirational examples of games helping us understand social change. Check out the blog Overcoming Bias, by economist Robin Hanson;  Intuition Games’ Gray game, which has players attempt to get players in a mob to switch sides; the phenomenon of “Kidney Chains,” where nonsimultaneous altruistic organ donations, if organized, can occur in optimally useful networks. Lantz talked about the practice of Min – Maxing in games, and the kidney chain is a game-like optimal solution to solving a social issue (there are 60,000 people waiting for kidney transplants at a given time). Finally he discussed optimal social solutions: complexity theorist Bruce Sawhill has noted,  “You no longer want to find the best solution — you want to be living in a space of good solutions, so when the problem changes, you’re still there.”

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