As director and teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, Drew Davidson has his finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest in game design and learning. And he’s always pushing the envelope.
Davidson runs ETC Press, an open-source publishing imprint. He’s also the editor of its Well Played Journal, which focuses on video games, value, and meaning. Davidson led a team of designers to create the Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia, a digital space for teens now replicated throughout the country. In addition, he’s been a leading voice in national conversations on game play, storytelling, interactive media, and more.
Remake Learning: What’s new in your approach to teaching game design to students?
Drew Davidson: We’re getting more formalized, leading an undergraduate game design minor as well as exploring a graduate concentration in game design.
What do you consider your/your organization’s biggest accomplishment as part of the Kids+Creativity Network?
We’re definitely proud of the work on MAKESHOP with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and all the great work we’re doing with the Elizabeth Forward School District. High-schoolers there are continuing to take game design courses through the Entertainment Technology Academy we helped develop. And most recently, a team of students has been working on building an interactive Energy Lab in Elizabeth Forward’s middle school.
What makes a collaboration successful?
I think there’s three key things: (1) Check your ego at the door. (2) Come in with a “yes, and” attitude, and think, “We can work together” instead of “I’m brilliant.” (3) Be open to other people’s expertise and have mutual respect. (4) Also, dedicate the time. The process will definitely pull you from your “job.” Relatedly, someone must own the process of coordination—keep the ball rolling and nudge people to stay in it.
How has the Kids+Creativity Network influenced your work?
It’s enabled us to make a more direct connection around the area, which has grounded our work in real-world impact. The spirit of collaboration is strong in Pittsburgh.
What’s the toughest part about the work you do?
The paperwork. While important, it’s the least inspiring part.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh on a Sunday afternoon?
Hang out with my wife and our pack of pets—three dogs and two cats.