IUPUI: GenCon Educational Partner Pilot School


It was recently announced that my alma mater, Indiana University & Purdue University of Indianapolis was selected by Gen Con to be the pilot school in their forthcoming Educational Partners Program. So I called up a former professor of mine, and good friend, Mat Powers to find out more about what this partnership means. Mat, who is a lecturer for the Media Arts & Science program at the IU School of Informatics, spearheads IUPUI’s part in the partnership.

Mat was contacted a couple of months ago by Jake Theis, the senior marketing & communications manager for Gen Con, LLC about participating in the program. Unfortunately, I can’t share much  about what they’re cooking up, because IUPUI and Gen Con don’t want to announce anything too early as they are still working out the details. Since the program is in its infancy, the partnership is exploring all their options.

What Mat could tell me is that the focus seems to be on educational games, or serious gaming, as well as connecting students to the gaming industry. Gen Con is also very committed to growing its presence in Indianapolis with a recent five year contract to keep the convention in the city and breaking attendance records in recent years. This is definitely another opportunity to expand Gen Con’s influence in the gaming industry. Mat informs me that the real exploration will occur post-Gen Con, when the students are back in classrooms for the Fall Semester and more details will be available as the program becomes defined.

Gen Con Indy
Gen Con Indy

However, for this year’s Gen Con, the partnership has begun developing relationships with the student body by extending free badges to several influential student organizations including the Gamer’s Guild, Cosplay Club, Anime Club, and the 3D Game Developers Group and giving those students access to meet with industry insiders and guests of honor. Mat hopes to get the Women in Technology group and Q-Media (the film/animation group) involved too.

I’m certainly a little jealous that this opportunity didn’t exist while I was attending IUPUI. Having graduated from the Media Arts & Science program, I would have definitely been on point with at least one project.

The press release follows:

Gen Con LLC has entered into a partnership with the Indiana University School of Informatics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis that will make the campus the first institution to participate in Gen Con’s Educational Partners Program.

“Given the academic reputation, enrollment size and proximity of the campus to Gen Con, partnering with IUPUI seemed like a natural fit for Gen Con Indy 2012,” said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con LLC. “The IU School of Informatics at IUPUI offers some innovative specializations such as storytelling fundamentals and gaming, and their students and faculty will add a unique voice to discussions on current topics in the industry.”

With its new Educational Partners Program, Gen Con hopes to give programmatic access to selected academic institutions, allowing students and faculty to interact with key members of the gaming industry and participate in educational, informative seminars.

“We are proud to collaborate with Gen Con on its Educational Partners Program,” said Mathew Powers, assistant professor at the School of Informatics. “The School of Informatics uniquely integrates computing, social science and information systems design to explore how people use computing and technology to live, work, play and communicate, so it only made sense for us to collaborate with Gen Con, which is known worldwide as the best place for the creation and development of truly original gaming fare.”

Gen Con will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year, as well as the 10th anniversary of its show in Indianapolis, Aug. 16 to 19. According to the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, Gen Con Indy 2011 provided more than $36 million in economic impact to Indianapolis, largely attributable to its record turnstile attendance of 120,000.

For questions regarding the Education Partners Program, including how to get involved, please contact Jake Theis, Gen Con senior marketing communications manager, at jake.theis@gencon.com

Gen Con LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science-fiction and adventure game convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community.

As one of Indiana University’s campuses, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is known as Indiana’s premier urban research and health sciences campus and is dedicated to advancing the intellectual growth of the state of Indiana and its residents through research and creative activity, teaching, learning and civic engagement. Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and other notable publications, IUPUI has more than 30,000 students enrolled in 21 schools, which offer more than 250 degrees. IUPUI awards degrees from both Indiana and Purdue Universities.

As the first school of its kind in the United States, the Indiana University School of Informatics is an innovator in a fast-paced and dynamic field. The school uniquely integrates computing, social science and information systems design to explore how people use computing and technology to live, work, play and communicate. We then apply that insight to develop innovative IT solutions impacting fields like health care, biology, business, law, entertainment and media. With nearly 2,000 students currently studying informatics on IU campuses, top-notch programs and highly regarded faculty, the School of Informatics is dedicated to preparing students for the power and possibility of computing and information technology.

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