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Why Gaming is Important in Academia: A Conversation with Professor Shabnam Kavousian, Ph.D., Lecturer and Mathematics Education Liaison, Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Bloomington

group gaming

I recently sat down with Professor Kavousian to discuss the importance of gaming in academia.  Game Days were originally organized by CITL (Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning). However, for the past year Professor Kavousian has organized and hosted them in the Department of Mathematics. This event has a committed participation from faculty, and lecturers across disciplines from the IUB campus. Professor Kavousian states, “At an early age, I’ve always loved playing games as well as the study of mathematics. Instinctively, I knew there was a strong connection between games, gaming, game theory, and the field of math.” Throughout her education, she recognized the similarities and dynamics of strategically solving board games, and how she could teach students to apply similar strategies to mathematical equations. She said, “People think I’m weird when I play board games by myself, but it helps with analytical thinking and logic.”  Like David Letterman, I couldn’t resist spoofing his “Top 10” list.  Therefore, I present to you, “Professor Kavousian’s Top 10 Reasons Why Gaming is Important in Academia.”

1. Gaming allows faculty and instructors to sit and discuss pedagogical tools that are relevant and can be applied to diverse fields of study.

2. Games (board, cards, digital, and virtual worlds) help to solve real-life economic, social, and cultural situations.

3. Gaming creates more interesting ways to engage students in projects which incorporate mathematical logic and theory.

4. Gaming allows participants to introduce new and old games, thus revitalizing new ideas and perceptions with different exploratory outcomes.

5. Gaming can create a tight-knit community of faculty and instructors from across the IU campus. The participants have been from a variety of disciplines such as Mathematics, Media and Communication, Philosophy, Music, Apparel Design, and Informatics.

6. If used in classroom correctly, Gaming has a great potential to create a deep interest for learning and motivating students.

7. Generally, students find it hard to follow the rules of mathematics, but find it much easier to follow very complicated rules of the games.

8. Planning and hosting a Game Day brings together like-minded colleagues with similar interests.

9. Gaming creates a social and informal environment/space.

10. Where else can you find highly educated people who can play board games in the middle of the day?

Professor Kavousian hopes to develop a course that teaches teachers how to effectively incorporate games and gaming into the math curriculum. Finally, I asked Professor Kavousian, how can libraries support the growing field of games and gaming particularly on the IUB campus?  She responded that sometimes it’s hard to find theoretical games to use in class. Librarians can help locate those hard-to-find games, and grow its collection. I informed Professor Kavousian that the Wells Library host its annual Game Night prior to the start of the fall semester.  She was delighted to hear this, and is optimistic that the library will find a way to host more game nights throughout the year.

games night


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