The Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University has named Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée as the new Director of the Serious Games Graduate Certificate. The program, started by Dr. Carrie Heeter, aims to promote meaningful design in games.
Dr. Heeter has praised Dr. LaPensée as a more than worthy successor to lead the program.
“We have one of the top individuals in the game industry running our Serious Games Program,” said Dr. Heeter. “She is an award-winning designer, writer, and artist of games, emergent media, and comics. Honestly, I can still hardly believe I know her. I can hardly believe she is on our faculty. I am thrilled that she is taking over the program as I retire.”
Recently retired, Heeter's impact at MSU and the broader games community continues through the legacy of the program. It involves a carefully crafted three-course, transcriptable, university graduate certificate in serious games which can be completed fully online. The course sequence, which includes Foundations of Serious Games, Theories of Games and Interaction Design, and Understanding Users, is designed to give game designers, business practitioners, teachers, and researchers graduate-level insight into serious game theories, serious game design, and human-centered design.
This work is carried on by Dr. LaPensée, an Assistant Professor of Media and Information as well as Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. Dr. LaPensée has a noteworthy background in game design with experience in creating 2D adventure games, tabletop games, web-based games, mobile games, VR games, and games for museums. She brings a combination of game design and research experience to the role, with several award-winning serious games, such as When Rivers Were Trails, which was developed through the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at MSU.
Dr. LaPensée was recognized by the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018, won the Adaptation Award at IndieCade 2019, and she was inducted into the Global Women in Games Hall of Fame in 2020.
Much like Dr. LaPensée's work, which spans from board games to video games to virtual reality, the Serious Games Graduate Certificate advances games of all forms.
“Dr. LaPensée has already been having substantial impacts on the Serious Games Program,” said Dr. Heeter. “Now that she is taking over as director, her big picture thinking, and bold actions will bring new initiatives and directions into being.”