2014 Conference Report:
By Anastasia Salter, NASAGA 2014 Board Chair and Conference Chair

Dear NASAGA Members,

Thank you everyone who joined us in 2014 for our conference in Baltimore! I enjoyed meeting everyone and spending a few packed days playing, learning, and exploring new ideas with you. Last year’s conference included some great NASAGA traditions, including our preconference certificate program, alternate reality game, and banquet. New events included an unconference, poster session, and game jam. Koreen Pagano kicked us off with a fantastic keynote on building “characters” for learning. She asked participants to imagine everything from an ebola dog to a personification of drought as tools for starting dialogues. John Chen joined us for an exciting keynote on telling stories through play. He brought the audience to their feet for a rapid geolocative scavenger hunt that sent us around the hotel taking photos and acting things out.

We found plenty of time to play throughout the week, with a NASAGA game night that featured a display of new games. With the help of NASAGA newcomer Lee Zickel, I ran an alternate reality game of dueling gaming societies, pitting the “Digerati” against the “Board of Gamers” in a recruitment drive that ended peacefully when a new society was formed embracing physical and digital games equally (you can read more about it in this issue of SIMAGES).

eramat setupOne highlight of the conference for me was playing the culturally-driven simulation board game ERAMAT, developed in collaboration with Maasai pastoralists in Kenya by Jacob Loorimirim Mayiani, Michael Deaton, Jennifer Coffman, and Alexandra Hickling. We were all very impressed and immersed in the community decision-making of the game, and the team was awarded the NASAGA Rising Star. You can learn more about the game here: http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2013/proceed/papers/P1280…).

I was inspired by the ideas all week, from the lively conversations at the unconference (which brought in local participants through THATCamp Games) to Dorval Mallman’s simulation of mental models and collective bargaining to newcomer Peter Wonica’s workshop on making educational board games. I hope everyone took away lots of new things to make and think about, and I look forward to seeing you all in Seattle in 2015!

-Anastasia Salter