David Simkins, professor of Interactive Games and Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), is among the nation’s foremost theorists and designers of higher education games. He has pioneered dozens of innovations, ranging from video games that teach statistics to in-class games that illuminate anthropological research on the origins of man. In his keynote address, Simkins notes that graduate programs in political science, international relations, law, and medicine already make extensive use of educational games and simulations. He notes that while undergraduate educators must remain focused on conveying knowledge, they must not neglect the importance learning by doing. Well-crafted educational games, he insists, are an essential complement to traditional undergraduate teaching.
Mark Carnes, professor of history at Barnard College, Columbia University, is author of Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College (2014). He is also a founder of the Reacting to the Past pedagogy and author of several of the early Reacting games. Here he argues that while “high-impact practices” have had a positive impact on learning outcomes and retention, college teachers and administrators must do far more to ensure that students embrace the life of the mind. Educational gaming, he contends, has the power to jolt students from their accustomed passivity and draw them into the intellectual wonderland that attracted most educators to careers in higher education in the first place.