PETLab (Prototyping, Evaluating, Teaching, and Learning)

PETLab is a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The New School for Design, funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative. It is a place for testing prototyping methods and the process of collaborative design with organizations interested in using games as a form of public interest and engagement. Through our work, we connected with scholars and designers in the field of digital media, practitioners working in the spheres of education and social issues, and people of all ages at play.

As a research assistant in PETLab my focus was on the use of the iterative design process as a tool for learning and collaboration. Many of the games I created were urban games, where the city is turned into a game board and players use mobile technology to communicate and compete. The multiple levels of learning that occur in the game cycle, from creator to spectator, was a theme central to my research.

Games topics were typically issues of interests or concern to partners like the Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club, NYPL. When creating games an iterative process was always employed, which resulted in dozens of rounds of prototyping and play-testing before the final launch of a game. When possible the partners were brought in to help create the game and inform the process. After the game was launched, qualitative research methods were employed, often in the form of interviews or surveys, to measure the effectiveness of the project.