He tākaro, he huarahi ako
Games for Learning
For Equity & Social Impact
Speakers & facilitators
Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher and developer of tools, communities, and materials to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity
Her recent books include “Connected Gaming: What Making Video Games Can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy”, “Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming,” “Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual Worlds” and edited volumes “Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional Perspectives and Inclusive Designs on Gender and Race in Gaming”, “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming.”
Kafai earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University while working with Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab.
"The new credo is that it's not just about playing but also about making games; that is connected gaming."
Amy is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cook Tribal Inlet Council. Originally from Chugiak, Alaska, Ms. Fredeen is of shared Inupiaq and German descent.
Amy helped form a partnership with E-line Media, an industry leader educational games, that created Never Alone, the first video game made with an indigenous community. Amy served as the lead cultural ambassador, ensuring an inclusive development process. Never Alone shares and celebrates Inupiaq culture and stories through 26 embedded mini-documentaries.
Never Alone won a 2015 BAFTA for ‘Best Debut Game’, and has had 3 million downloads to date.
Amy supports other non-profit organisations, and is currently serving as a board member of Cook Inlet Native Head Start. Amy has previously served on the board of Directors of Make-A-Wish of Alaska and Washington; Alaska Center for the Performing Arts; and as the President and Chair of International Funders for Indigenous Peoples.
"Our Youth have more opportunities than we could have imagined possible three generations ago. However, they need to be aware of those opportunities and have the courage to reach for them. Cook Inlet Tribal Council believes in the power video games to bring our traditional wisdom into the future and connect Our Youth to their Potential."
Director of Innovative Educational Ideas and research fellow Arizona State University Center for Games and Impact. Independent researcher, educator, and consultant in game play, gamification, communities of practice, and learning communities.
Bronwyn has been engaged in research and community development around games for learning for the past 15 years, exploring how we can cultivate creativity identity, agency, citizenship, leadership, and community through gameful practices. Bron cut her teeth in games for learning long before Minecraft exploded into the world, through her 10 years with the highly successful Arizona State University Quest Atlantis program. She now explores, curates and supports teachers using Minecraft in their classrooms and builds community for the next wave of teachers keen to make a difference through gameful practices. She works with learners and teachers in schools and online in a number of contexts. Her website, The Get Game Hub, is a place to share case stories of teachers taking their first adventurous steps into gameful learning practices, including classroom integration of Minecraft.
"The research is out there, gameful learning practices are reaching the students our systems are failing. Get in touch with your sense of fun and everyone wins!"
Harko Brown is not a doctor or even a professor although at one time he did fall through the cracks to complete a Masters of Sport & Leisure Studies with a Social Sciences Honours degree (Waikato University). Harko is a past university lecturer who saw in the new millennium by swapping higher educational theory for incredibly satisfying chalk-face practicals as a school teacher in the Bay of Islands where he lives with his wife and six children.
Harko has written two recent books – ‘Ngā Taonga Tākaro: The Matrix’ (2016) commissioned by Physical Education NZ and he collaborated with his talented teenaged daughter Yves Tennessee to pen an educational thesis on Maori games icons titled, ‘Te Mara Hupara: 30 Ancient Maori Artefacts for Play, Learning and Education’ (2017). In 2015 Harko was co-opted by the NZ Government to organise and lead the first Aotearoa/NZ Maori delegation to the World Indigenous Games in Palmas, Brazil. He truly believes that if the educational and environmental propositions of those historic Games and our own ancestrally derived games legacies were embraced by NZ social institutes and incorporated into town planning that we would have a much more peaceful, loving and harmonious society.
"When Kupe first sailed to Aotearoa a millennium ago he was invited by inhabitants already here to hakari (game play, dance, sing, whaikorero). Games were the nexus of society, supporting education and sustaining social order in the land of the long twilight. Utilising the intricacies of ngā taonga tākaro with our young people today, we can advance forthrightly into a spiritually rich and societally transformative future."
James has worked for 15 years in the Canadian game development hubs of Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, and he is currently a Lead Game Designer at Magic Leap and Weta Workshop in Wellington. He's contributed to games ranging from the award winning block breaker Shatter, to the blockbuster spy fantasy Splinter Cell Blacklist. James has served as Chairperson of the New Zealand Game Developers Association since 2016. Since 2001 the NZGDA has supported the efforts hundreds of professionals and dozens of Kiwi studios creating interactive entertainment for global audiences.
Rachel Bolstad is a senior researcher and emerging game designer at NZCER. Rachel has led the planning and programming for the Games for Learning conference. She currently leads a research project called “Games for Learning”, and recently released her first digital game, “Curriculum for the Future” created in collaboration with Gamelab.
Andrew and Michael are history educators who primarily use non-digital games as a method to engage students with history's complexity. They have a particular interest in how games can generate debate, hone students' argumentation skills and develop critical thinking when applied to historical contexts and their contemporary implications.
“As history teachers we have an obligation to teach students that things are complex".
Diana-Grace is a passionate educator with an interest in digital cultures and how futures thinking and ideas about complexity challenge many of the norms and assumptions of teachers' work. In 2016 she collaborated with her Year 7 & 8 students to transform an ordinary classroom into a year-long game design studio workshop. This year she is stropping out another game design space in her work as a lecturer in the School of Education at Auckland University of Technology. Most recently, with a community of other educators Diana-Grace is exploring the questions: How do ideas of the future inform action in the present? What changes could happen and where that would create a shift in our education system so it better meets demands of the knowledge society? Diana-Grace is totally convinced that Game Design facilitates improvement of ideas within diverse groups. Her favourite game is Never Alone and once, she was killed by a polar bear 94 times in one night!
"I feel quite unwavering about game design, I know I need a bit more language to be able to explain it, but I see and hear different things [in my classroom] during game design that I do not hear or see happening in other areas of the curriculum."
Leanne is an educator who puts play, curiosity, and wonder at the heart of her teaching and her own learning. With a background in both early childhood and vision impairment education, Leanne has been keenly observing the learning that occurs when her primary age students play games, so it was only natural that she and her class would delve into game design. Their first success was the highly popular and adaptable "E-limb-ination" zombie apocalypse tag game, designed by year 3 and 4 students. Aside from game design, Leanne is also interested in bringing all sorts of games into the classroom to enhance learning, from role-playing dice for character development in writing, to presidential election games to support civics education. What's not to love about playing games right?
“I’m always in awe of how much my students already know about game mechanics. Where did they learn this? How did they learn this? Ah yes, through play!”
Ben graduated from Auckland School of Architecture (BAS) in 2001. He has created, developed and taught on computer game, architecture, drawing, digital and spatial design courses at Unitec, AUT and The University of Auckland. After completing a Masters in Art and Design in the area of game environment design and story implementation he worked for 2 years as a game designer at Gameloft Auckland and currently teaches Play and Game Design at AUT University’s School of Art and Design and Bachelor of Creative Technologies. He is the current director of the PIGsty: Play and Games Lab at AUT and is the Director of the Art + Design Minor Programme. He is currently also a board member of the NZGDA (NZ Game Developers Association) and is an active member of the NZ commercial and indie game scene. An enthusiastic and critical analyst of games, Ben seeks to build upon current media conventions and broaden the landscape of gaming in both AUT and NZ. Ben’s research interests include: Aesthetics of interactivity, play, game narratives, and community His current teaching areas are game design and production, interactivity, and play.
“We tread a sea of cultural resistances. To prove the benefits of play on learning is not enough, the narrative needs to reach the community. We have work to do - luckily the sea is finally parting”.
Warren is an enthusiast for innovation in learning, pulling on methods and technologies from non-learning industries and childhood education to get great results in the professional adult world. He is passionate about game design for learning, and especially interested in the use of social and tabletop games for learning for taking a first step towards bringing more game design into learning experiences. In addition to designing learning for companies around NZ he is also an advocate for innovative practice in the education sector, networking with key educational leadership organisations such as NZCER and the Springboard Trust.
A Sysdoc learning specialist for the past 12 years, he has applied this approach to learning with clients both in NZ and the UK, seeing great results in learning engagement and gaining industry recognition in the process.
“There will soon come a time when all learners, including adult learners, demand a standard of instructional design that is equal to the rich learning experiences that they seek for themselves outside of the classroom. Games, as a medium, are perfect for achieving this richness of learning. Or as my favourite public speaker, Kanye West, explains it: "Listen to the kids, Bro!"
Dan’s superpower is to combine game industry practice with curriculum to make learning engaging, applied and irresistible to young people. Dan is the founder and CEO of Gamelab, and his goal in life is to make game creation accessible to everyone, including learners and teachers with no prior knowledge of coding and game design.
Dan and his team at Gamelab believe that the ability to create games allows learners to do something real, to articulate their knowledge in new ways, to find and solve problems, to think and collaborate as designers. To this end, they have built Gamefroot, an online platform that enables young people to learn through making and building their own games and simulations. Dan and his team have run game creation and design workshops for young people and adults in schools, libraries, and museums all over New Zealand. Gamelab also collaborates with educators to design online programmes that support students to explore multiple areas of the curriculum through the design and creation of digital games.
“Young people learn through doing! Whether they are coding a game and tinkering with algorithms, debugging how bacteria spread in a simulation, or writing trigonometry to control a character in a game, we want them to have a learning experience that they will never forget”
Rachel Fenichel is a software engineer on the Kids Coding team at Google. She works on Blockly, a library for creating drag-and-drop coding experiences. Her work powers Code.org, App Inventor, the BBC micro:bit, and more. She is particularly interested in digital literacy and teaching computational thinking through coding games.
"Programming is about manipulating ideas, not semicolons.”
Robert is the Content Design Director at Chrometoaster and was the lead game designer for Game of Awesome. He has worked on digital and print projects for the NZ education sector extensively, designing high-quality resources for teachers and students including the Inclusive Education website, the NCEA Student app for NZQA and — of course — Game of Awesome.
Aaron is Design Director at Chrometoaster and is responsible for the visual design and production of the Game of Awesome. He has 20 years’ experience designing a broad range of some of New Zealand’s most recognised brands which includes projects such as the print and digital editions of Connected for Lift Education. During his career Aaron has also designed a huge range of children’s books, working alongside authors such as Cressida Cowell, Lauren Child, Neal Layton, and Mick Inkpen. Aaron's design work has received numerous accolades and awards both here and overseas.
Going backwards in time, Rich has both done a lot and seemed to achieve very little. He has consulted industry on play and learning, designed curriculums for Unitec and Kineo, dreamt up street-style games and events with Wild Streets, agonised over mega- and tabletop-games for social good organisations, tinkered with tiny hobby games, manipulated minds as a science teacher for ten wonderful years, and built a strange body of acting and writing work with indie film and game studios. Features include degrees in sciences and education, comfortable shoes, and a penchant for heady talk about physical play and games. Rich enjoys smooshing disparate things together “just to see what we can learn,” and is grateful for the many collaborations he’s had with amazing people over the years. Currently Rich looks for projects expanding the reach of playful experiences, and through that engagement help make the world a better place.
"Children aren't learning differently than we were as kids; we're just finally teaching them the way they learn. Play is part of being human. Embrace it and serve with a helping of careful reflection, and irreverence. After all, the only thing solemnity serves is pomposity.”
Rose Jowsey works with The Centre on Water and Environment and DHI, a global not-for-profit company operating in the water sector. Growing up in the top of the South Island on the confluence of two rivers and near the four river plains, gave Rose Jowsey a strong passion for our New Zealand waterways. Having returned to NZ in 2012 Rose took up a role working with DHI as a facilitator of their technical sales team as well as running the DHI NZ ACADEMY. This is where the concept of Aqua Republica was introduced to her, having been benchmarked successfully overseas in Burkino Faso and Singapore. Her first foray into environmental education began and she worked toward bringing the serious game for catchment management into New Zealand and creating our very own ‘Awapikopiko’ catchment, working with her colleague, Carl Johnson. Having created an opportunity to bring Aqua Republica to New Zealand shores, Rose collaborated with eleven organisations across New Zealand to bring the game to seven regional and one district council, and into the classrooms and homes of many students across the nation.
“I believe serious gaming is a fun and engaging way to get important science and environmental concepts embedded into the worldview of our next generation”
I teach year 9 at Dilworth Rural Campus. My background is in Social Studies and Outdoor Education. My pedagogy draws on personal growth and the holistic nature of teaching a person rather than teaching a subject. I am passionate about promoting and supporting innovation that moves us towards an agile, adaptable, and responsive education system that develops youth that will thrive in the ever-changing world we find ourselves living in.
“Games go beyond learning “about” citizenship; they develop students’ personal understanding and emotional connection to the concept”
Kia ora, ko Whetu ahau. I am from Harataunga (Kennedy's Bay), in Coromandel. I am neither a qualified educator nor game designer/developer, instead my journey into this world has been entirely driven by our tamariki and their own journey in Te Reo Māori. I have been a fan of Minecraft since hearing about it in 2010, but have only thought about its use in helping to support our tamariki in immersion style learning in the last two years. Since then, we have been slowly working towards building a place for our tamariki, and others, to play in. Mahimaina has been very experimental and relies on the work of other developers and modders that came before us.
“Our journey with Mahimaina has connected us with many other groups in Aotearoa and around the world who are are all working very hard to see Minecraft, and games in general, used as a high quality educational platform for our tamariki and others”
Visit my website
Simon is a primary school teacher with 14 years’ experience and currently teaches at Selwyn House School, which is a future-focussed, independent girls’ school in Christchurch. Simon’s background is in civil engineering, so he enjoys bringing a technological focus to his teaching. He is particularly passionate about using authentic and meaningful contexts to teach and motivate girls in the STEM subjects. While Simon spends most of this time teaching his own Year 7 class, he also helps run a specialist mechatronics programme for the entire school for one day a week.
“You don't need to be an expert in gamification to start trying it with your students.”
Kia orana! We are a group of Year 13 learners between the ages of 17 and 19. We are from Tereora College, the National College of the Cook Islands on the small island of Rarotonga, which, for those who don't know is one of fifteen islands in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. As Media Studies learners, we are excited to share our experiences of learning through gaming, and we're looking forward to this conference. Meitaki Ma'ata! Kia Toa!
Maru is the managing director, game producer and designer at Metia Interactive, an award-winning game design studio. Maru is the game designer behind the development of SPARX, an interactive game based on cognitive behavioural therapy, designed to help young rangatahi manage their depression. SPARX was placed into a nationwide clinical trial and was reviewed by the British Medical Journal. The game was a success and went on to win two international awards, a United Nations World Summit Award and a UNESCO Netexplo Award. In 2016 Maru was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for her work in gaming and mental health, and recently awarded the Innovator of the Year in 2017 MCV Pacific Women in Games Awards from Xbox. She is currently studying for her Masters Degree in Technological Futures through Tech Futures Lab, working on a project called Takaro, an interactive platform to teach Rangatahi to strengthen spatial awareness skills and strategies that will build confidence in STEM.
“Game-based learning initiatives like Takaro are vital to encourage our future generations to move into the technological space. Rangatahi will make up a sizeable part of our future work force and we need them to be at the forefront of technology."
A life-long affliction has caused Maraea to embed herself in education-related occupations since kindergarten. Since high school she has been a teacher, educational publisher and app developer, and is now in educational research at NZCER. Some severe relapses have resulted in several qualifications, most lately a PhD in child language acquisition. Fortunately, Maraea also has a passion for learning, teaching, children and language, and is particularly keen on fun stuff that gets all these things to work together to make learning and teaching effortless.
Tara is part of the Learning Innovation Team at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and is responsible for enabling innovative learning experiences for learners of all ages through engagement with Te Papa’s collections, exhibitions, cultural and scientific resources, and the Learning Lab. Tara is passionate about supporting all learners and believes using digital technologies in a well-considered blended approach enhances teaching and learning.
Jarek worn many hats in his career: programmer, researcher, academic lecturer, manager, designer, producer and sound engineer. Since 2009 he has designed and created 22 applications, spanning from apps for visually impaired, through games and stories for kids to B2B applications. Jarek is passionate about sound, games, user interfaces and interactive storytelling. In years 2013 and 2014, he led the Gamification Lab’s applied research project focused on audio games and intuitive gesture based user interface (the Audio Game project) at the Lab at the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg in Germany. In 2014, he was awarded VC scholarship at Auckland University of Technology and moved to New Zealand for PhD studies on audio interfaces in applications for visually impaired. He is a creator of Audio Game Hub and Blind Cricket simulator.
Rose was a science and biology teacher before joining NZCER. She enjoys working with teachers and school leaders and has led national research projects related to both curriculum and assessment innovation in New Zealand. Rose is particularly interested in deepening understandings teaching and learning for competency/capability development, including in areas such as systems thinking.
Hamish Barclay is the Head of Middle School, and Brad Milne is the Head of Curriculum Innovation and Leadership at St Thomas of Canterbury College, a Year 7-13 Integrated Catholic School for boys. They are currently collaborating with colleagues to explore what a gamified approach to curriculum design might look like for Years 7-9.
“Even if we get lost in this idea of gamification we just go back and look at what are our school values. It’s not something we could have introduced 3-4 years ago, and say “we’re going to do gamification’. There was a lot of groundwork. We’re not scared to fail”.
Alan Gershenfeld is a pioneer in harnessing the power of digital media for learning and social impact. As a former studio head at Activision, former chairman of Games for Change, and currently co-founder/president of E-Line Media, he has helped bring the power of games and digital media to engage and empower millions. He has worked on social-impact game and media projects with NSF, DARPA, USAID, White House OSTP, PBS, Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, ASU Center for Games and Impact, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.
Stephen Ross has been teaching since 2002 at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College in Taupo. He lives just out of town with his amazing wife (also a teacher) and two kids Nick and Evie (who both love Minecraft and playing with the dogs and horses). At school, Stephen's subject areas are general sciences and senior physics. He has been a dean, a head of faculty and is currently in a 21st century - focussed leadership role. He completed The Mind Lab course in 2015 and has a love of digital technologies and new tech. Stephen really hopes to be headhunted by a gaming company to realise his dream of working with games by day and playing them by night.