Dartmouth Experience Turns Out to Be a Game Changer

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This story was originally published in the Dartmouth College Fund’s Fall 2012 issue of “GREEN at Dartmouth.”

Max Seidman ’12 graduated cum laude in June with a major in engineering. He discovered game design in a course with Tiltfactor founder Mary Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of the Digital Humanities. Seidman is now project manager for a new Tiltfactor game illustrating problems in health care delivery.

Max Seidman

Max Seidman’12 is a project manager in Dartmouth’s Tiltfactor Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of the Dartmouth College Fund)

Seidman talked to GREEN at Dartmouth about his experience working at Tiltfactor:

“Games, like art, try to give their audience an emotional experience. For games, the emotion is often fun. At Tiltfactor, we add another level: We want players to experience emotions like empathy that will contribute to social change,” he says.

“All design is art, and game design even more so because the mechanics are the message. What you do in the games we create is what we want you to do in real life. Our newest project focuses on encouraging players to act in the common good. That means we have to create mechanics that instill that message in players, and at the same time make a game they’ll want to play.

“The more you practice game design, the easier it becomes. Every project I work on at Tiltfactor widens my understanding of games and how players experience them.

“I didn’t come to Dartmouth thinking I would be a game designer. At first, I looked at game design the way I looked at being an astronaut: Everyone wants to do it, so there’s no chance I could. But after finding the intersection between engineering design and game design—two things I love—I now view myself as a game designer. I realized that, while lots of people think they want to be astronauts, most give it up as a pipe dream. So there is actually room for those of us who really want to be astronauts—or game designers!”