Professor Gottlieb joined IGM this fall. We asked him a few questions as a way for him to introduce himself.
What are your current areas of research?
My research specializes in games, digital media, religion, culture, and learning. In particular I am interested in social impact in fields such as in education, public policy, and politics. For a number of years I have been designing, developing, and researching learning through GPS based mobile gaming. I have created and studied gaming for modern Jewish history, emphasizing civic and democratic education (www.converjent.org).
I have also conducted research in digital media and religious social protest as well as writing on Jewish sacred religious law, learning, and games.
My current research and design project uses ancient religious legal structures to develop game systems for intra-faith and inter-faith understanding. I use mixed methods design-based research to develop the games and to study learning during and surrounding game play and design.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging? What do find most enjoyable?
I find developing new game mechanics systems to be the most challenging and most enjoyable parts of my work. I look to and learn from players as they play through prototypes, providing feedback and clues to ever-improved game mechanics for learning as well as more deeply understanding how people learn. We learn as we play, and so figuring out how that happens is incredibly challenging and also fascinating and deeply rewarding.
What drew you to become a professor?
My own teachers have inspired and encouraged me to pursue curiosities and the excitement of learning. I hope to do the same for my students. The world around us is a fascinating place, and the inspiration to make great games can come from the unexpected: a great work of architecture, a political debate, a visit to an interesting factory -- any place we can learn new rule-based systems holds opportunities for the next great game.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love skiing and spending time in the woods, so Rochester is a great place to live. I also have a passion for pinball.
What advice would you give students about IGM and RIT?
I encourage my students to think strategically about their portfolios – to consider each class project as an opportunity to both explore their passions in game design and to think ahead to how they will showcase their work to potential collaborators and employers – or even market and distribute a game themselves. I ask my students to consider learning and game play, and I also suggest that my students draw from great game and play theorists – many of whom have thought through tough problems that designers often face. And if ever a theorist argues that “it can’t be done” – to take that as a great design challenge and an opportunity to break new boundaries in game design and development.