My name is Eric and I practice game design.
I have worked in the game industry for more than 25 years, designing everything from massively multiplayer online games to retail PC/console titles to card and board games to large-scale installations. It is difficult for me to express just how much I love inventing new forms of play.
My first industry job was at R/GA Interactive, collaborating with Frank Lantz in the mid-1990s on the design of Gearheads. In the late 90s, I partnered with Word.com on SiSSYFiGHT 2000, a game about playground social conflict of which I am still very fond. In 2000, Peter Lee and I founded Gamelab, a studio that grew to 30 people over a decade and produced dozens of award-winning games. Gamelab created original titles like the best-selling Diner Dash and worked with companies like LEGO, Disney, Mattel, VH-1, Leapfrog, Fisher-Price, Nickelodeon, and HBO. Gamelab was a fiercely independent studio before "indie games" became a buzzword, and many from our merry band have gone on to do amazing things.
One of Gamelab's bigger projects was Gamestar Mechanic, a site that let kids design their own online games. Gamestar Mechanic was originally a collaboration with literacy scholar James Paul Gee and was funded by one of the MacArthur Foundation's first game-related grants. In the wake of Gamestar's success, Peter Lee, Katie Salen, and I co-founded The Institute of Play, a nonprofit that transforms education through play. Under the leadership of Katie Salen, the Institute opened Quest to Learn, a grade 6-12 public school where the entire curriculum is based on games and play as a model for learning. The Institute of Play is still thriving under the guidance of Rebecca Rufo-Tepper and Arana Shapiro and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. I currently Chair the Board of the Insitute.
Teaching is very much part of my design practice. I have taught at universities including MIT, Parsons School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, and have led hundreds of classes and workshops on game design around the world. I am a founding faculty at the NYU Game Center in Tisch School of the Arts, where I am a full-time Arts Professor. Our BFA and MFA programs are bursting with amazing faculty and students and it is a genuine pleasure to be a part of this talented group. On the scholarly side, I’ve written about game design in books like Rules of Play, co-authored with Katie Salen, considered the standard textbook for game design.
For the last several years I have been collaborating with architect Nathalie Pozzi and her company Nakworks on large-scale installation projects that combine game design and architecture. Our work has appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and in museums and festivals in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, and the Netherlands.
Along with Colleen Macklin and John Sharp, I am co-founder of game design collective Local No. 12. We have published The Metagame, a card game about cultural debate. Local No. 12 recently Kickstarted a game for smartphones that uses public domain literature as the basis for a puzzle game. Other current projects include a followup to my strategy boardgame Quantum with Paris-based FunForge and an interactive narrative set during the May 1968 protests in Paris.
What motivates me as a designer today are still the things that drew me in the first place: finding delight in design collaborations, exploring how games create meaning, giving players contexts for creative expression and deeper understanding, and bringing new kinds of mischief into the world.