Tiltfactor | We are Tiltfactor.
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We are Tiltfactor.

Game design for social change.

We make games. We study how people play. We think games can change the world.  We think games are an art form. We believe games are capable of more.  We teach with games. We speak out with games. We help people through games. We brainstorm.  We research.  We play. We are Tiltfactor.

Can we make a more just and equitable world with games?

At Tiltfactor, we believe we can. The interdisciplinary innovation studio dedicated to designing & studying games for social impact, was founded and is led by Dr. Mary Flanagan.

Tiltfactor uses its unique design methodology, Critical Play, to incorporate fundamental human values and psychological principles to promote learning, attitude change, and behavior change. Tiltfactor investigates the power of story, systems thinking, and empathy to craft powerful experiences that make a difference in people’s lives: by reducing stereotypes and biases, promoting wellness, harnessing new forms of knowledge, and increasing global awareness, Tiltfactor’s approach revolutionizes new technology design for a better world. We develop board games, card games, sports, urban games, and digital games for a variety of platforms, and publish both qualitative and quantitative research results from our controlled empirical studies. Read more about us in our brochure.

What is the mission?

While games can’t ‘fix’ everything, there are subtle social, attitudinal, and learning challenges that can be best addressed in games. Tiltfactor’s mission is to change minds and behaviors for the better using fun and games. We think we can use games to change the world, and we’ve proven it through rigorous research.
Laboratory work focuses on challenges in three areas: fostering public health, influencing pro-social attitudes and behaviors, and creating engines for knowledge generation. We can address all of these, at least in part, through games.

What makes us unique?

Our reliance on psychological principles to help inform the design and content of the games. Our use of rigorous, systematic research methodologies to test and verify the proposed impact of games on players. Our desire for all of our games to change players’ hearts and minds and promote positive human values.

How do we accomplish this?

We are working with major national and international funders and organizations to craft real change. We think from a different perspective and integrate values and social responsibility alongside great gameplay. We are skilled at designing catchy games that teach people something or create new knowledge, and we follow up with rigorous research that proves our approach and creates tangible results. Tiltfactor has created unique game design methodologies that lead to innovation; these are shared as a resource at http://www.valuesatplay.org.

Where are we?

Tiltfactor is now at Dartmouth College. We occupy a beautiful new space in the Black Family Visual Arts Center. Since our origin as the first academic game lab in NYC, Tiltfactor is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and national research groups. We have been previously funded by Microsoft Research, the American Council of Learned Societies, and more.

Who is Tiltfactor?

flanagan-2012-80x80DR. MARY FLANAGAN

Founding Director

Dr. Mary Flanagan imagined and founded Tiltfactor in 2003 and directs the lab. She is a futurist, writer and designer focused on how people create and use technology. Her groundbreaking explorations across the arts, humanities, and sciences reflect a novel use of methods and tools that bind research with introspective cultural production. Known for her theories on playculture, activist design, and critical play, Flanagan has achieved international acclaim for her novel interdisciplinary games, artwork, and theoretical writing, her commitment to theory/practice research, and contributions to social justice design arenas. She is particularly interested in exploring issues of equity and authorship in technological environments and reworking commonly understood paradigms to provide collective strategies for social change. At Tiltfactor, Flanagan and her team study and make social games, urban games, and software that fosters a joyful commitment to humanistic principles, learning, and fun. She has invented many games and is the creator of “The Adventures of Josie True,” the first web-based adventure game for girls. As a scholar interested in how human values, gender, and culture are in play across technologies and systems, Flanagan has written more than 20 critical essays and chapters on games, empathy, gender and digital representation, art and technology, and responsible design. Her three books in English include Critical Play (2009) with MIT Press and Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) with Helen Nissenbaum. As an artist, her internationally exhibited work ranges from game-inspired systems to computer viruses, embodied interfaces to interactive texts. She is the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. http://www.maryflanagan.com

danielleDANIELLE TAYLOR

Administrative Genius 

Danielle Taylor is a graduate of Middlebury College with a B.A. in Studio Art and Anthropology/Sociology, as well as a graduate of the University of Iowa with a M.F.A. in Drawing and Painting. After working at the University of Pennsylvania in the Graduate School of Fine Arts and then putting forth a valiant effort to harness the dot.com craze with a company called theartbiz.com, she was lost in the wildness for several years and then one day found herself on the Tiltfactor doorstep. They kindly took her in and now she lives there.

gili

GILI FREEDMAN

Postdoctoral Researcher

Gili Freedman graduated from Haverford College with her B.A. in Psychology and from the University of Texas at Austin with a Ph.D. in Social Psychology. Prior to Tiltfactor, her research focused on social exclusion. Although her research is now bursting in new directions at Tiltfactor, she is always on the lookout for any instances of rejection. This makes her an excellent party guest.

max

MAX SEIDMAN

Game Designer

Max Seidman is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a B.A. in engineering sciences with a focus on human-centered design. When he’s not gaming he spends his time working on games, designing games, and thinking critically about games (with the occasional break to eat and sleep). At Tiltfactor, Max worked on design and production team for such games as: POX, Buffalo, Awkward Moment, Stupid Robot, Gut Check, Bill of Health, Smorball, Beanstalk, and many more. Hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Max stands a whopping 6′ 20″ and is made of pure radiation. In his spare time he enjoys medieval fencing and writing about himself in the third person.


sukie

SUKIE PUNJASTHITKUL

Project Manager, Game Designer

Sukie Punjasthitkul is Tiltfactor’s project manager. Formerly a researcher at Dartmouth Medical School’s Interactive Media Lab, Sukie has a diverse background that includes video and audio editing, compositing, media encoding, web production, tech support and repair, Q&A, and system administration. Sukie has a MS in Evaluative Clinical Sciences from Dartmouth College. He thinks old technology is still useful.

bineshii

BINESHII HERMES-ROACH

Bineshii is a Native American at Dartmouth from Minneapolis, MN graduating with the class of 2017. She is majoring in Studio Art with an Engineering minor. Her focus in Studio Art is in Printmaking and Digital Arts. Bineshii has enjoyed games her entire life – not just video games, but also tabletop games like Magic: The Gathering and Pathfinder. Currently, her most played video games are Undertale, Cities: Skylines, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, however this changes pretty frequently as new games come out and she rediscovers older games. One of her favorite hobbies is wasting hours of her life browsing Steam sale games.

andrea

ANDREA SEDLACEK

Andrea Sedlacek is a ‘20 at Dartmouth College. She is hoping to major in Government and Women and Gender Studies and possibly minor in International Studies or Public Policy. Andrea loves cooking, singing, swimming, running, planning fundraisers, and everything outdoors. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures and anything involving food.


alexis

ALEXIS WALLACE

Alexis Wallace is a 2017 at Dartmouth studying psychology and English. She works in the lab as a marketing consultant, developing strategies and practices for Tiltfactor. In her spare time, Alexis enjoys binge watching shows and films that center on humans and technology, such as Black Mirror, Westworld, Ex Machina, and Circle (all of which she highly recommends).

jiachen

JIACHEN JIANG

Jiachen seems to be a normal member of Dartmouth’s class of 2020, but things aren’t always as they appear. Unbeknownst to most, Jiachen relived the events of October 7th, 2016 over 30,000 times in a Groundhog Day-style loop. Before finally breaking out of the loop, she was able to master a vast number of useful skills including: fluency in 17 programming languages, sleight of hand, parkour, the art of deception, unarmed combat, juggling, marksmanship, and the ability to recite the entire script of the TV show Firefly. While her 100 years of October 7th were a trying time, they ultimately shaped her into the impressive individual she is today.

julia

JULIA HOLGADO

Julia is a total enigma, but here’s what we do know: She came from New Jersey. On the academics side, she’s a Thayer 3-2 student originally hailing from Vassar College’s Class of 2018, where she studies Computer Science. Here at Dartmouth, she’s studying Computer Engineering. Her favorite games include almost anything Fire Emblem or Pokemon. She wishes there was more appreciation for video game soundtracks, especially the orchestral kind. Okay, so not a total enigma.


jaki

JAKI KIMBALL

Jaki is a 4+1 CS + Digital Arts master’s student and a jaki of all trades. She is very suggestible to trying new recipes in the kitchen. Despite being easily persuaded in all things food, she staunchly resists iOS updates despite persistent reminders…at least until her favorite mobile games get updated.

jim

JIM KEHOE

Jim is a game designer at Tiltfactor with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, is a Master of Engineering Management candidate at Dartmouth, and is most importantly the reigning champion of his fantasy football league. Prior to Dartmouth, he spent several years as a design engineer in his home turf of Boston, MA. He enjoys long walks along cheese displays, pretending to be a good cook, taking extra turns, and thinking about modular design. Any situation involving laying tiles, bidding, or drafting is his happy place

ruba

RUBA IQBAL

Ruba is a part of the class of 2020 at Dartmouth College. She hopes to major in some kind of language or linguistics or something. She also wants to take the pre-med track in order to become a neurosurgeon, so she can, you know, mess with people’s brains and stuff. She can already read them, so she’s already a step closer anyway. She’s from Detroit so she cannot be messed with.


Spring

SPRING YU

Spring Yu is a member of the class of 2019 at Dartmouth College from Wading River, NY. She is currently planning to major in Studio Art. She enjoys playing puzzle and indie video games and is on the Dartmouth Figure Skating Team and Street Soul. In her free time, Spring watches cartoons and laments the lack of cats on campus.

nicoleNICOLE CHEN

Nicole is from southern China and went to high school in Singapore. After living in a place where it’s summer all year long, she was really pumped for a Hanover winter her freshman year but soon learned her lesson. At Dartmouth she’s a computer science major and Japanese minor. If you take CS classes with her you’ll hear her complain a lot about the insane amount of work but the truth is she actually enjoys coding and thinks it’s a purifying experience. In her spare time Nicole enjoys sketching, listening to podcasts, and watching movies. (Her favorite director is Quentin Tarantino. Seriously, she has watched Pulp Fiction like a million times). Her happiest moment is when the new season of Sherlock comes out.

abby

ABIGAIL LIVINGSTON

Abby is a student in the class of 2018 at Dartmouth and is majoring in History. During her off term at Tiltfactor, she is working to further develop an online voice for both Tilt and the game design company Resonym. Abby enjoys many types of board games and family games, and has finally gotten over her 50-game losing streak in Yahtzee.


amanda

AMANDA HERZ

Amanda is a Dartmouth ’18 from New York City. She’s majoring in Film & Media with a minor in German Studies. Her favorite games range from Assassin’s Creed to Pokemon Emerald to League of Legends, but the list goes on an on. Beyond gaming, some of the things she loves are stand-up, surrealism, football, rapping, all kinds of food (provided that it’s delicious) and just… hanging out. Her guilty pleasure is hoarding Lunchables (just the pizza kind).

shelley

SHELLEY GARG

Shelley Garg is a sophomore at Dartmouth College studying computer science and economics and is interested in learning about innovative means of impacting social change, especially through technology. As a student researcher at Tiltfactor, Shelley has been involved with studies analyzing the impact of our games and understanding how different platforms affect game play. Shelley is also a competitive Netflix binge watcher.

jordan

JORDAN HALL

Jordan Hall is a Dartmouth ’16 from Buffalo, NY. He’s majoring Computer Science Major with a Digital Arts modification, and has loved games his entire life. He’s a Kingdom Hearts fanboy, and yes, he’s totally stoked about KHIII finally coming out. He channels all of his free time into making things, writing, and playing around with Javascript.


jesus

JESUS MORENO

Jesus Moreno is a member of the class of 2016 at Dartmouth College. He is working as a programmer at Tiltfactor helping to create backend infrastructure as well as to design and implement games. He is currently pursuing a major in Computer Science and is interested in all things technology but recently has been focusing web applications.

caitlyn

CAITLYN LEE

If you look closely at the Baker Berry Bell Tower when the light is just right, you might just be able to make out a shadowy silhouette looking back at you, planning. Where once the criminal underworld of Dartmouth was made up of petty warlords vying for control, it has now been unified under this ruthless mastermind. She goes by many names: “The Watcher,” “The Puppeteer,” “Caitlyn,” but one thing is for sure–if you need something done, she can make it happen… for a price.

christine

CHRISTINE QI

Tachyon particles have the unusual ability to travel faster than light and be sent through time. While scientists doubt that we’ll ever be able to time travel, we could, in theory, send data back and forth through time. And that means that someone in the future is already sending data back to us, we just lack the conduit to receive the data.

Late one Tuesday night when Christine was up late on stack overflow a freak accident (a lightening rod, an improperly grounded laptop, and coffee spilled across fingers and a motherboard) turned her into that conduit. With information flowing into her brain constantly from infinite points in the future, Christine will be unstoppable–as soon as she has her Dartmouth degree.


AbbyABBY CHEN

Abigail Chen is a member of the class of 2017 from Yorktown, Virginia, who is studying Computer Science and Human Centered Design. She strongly believes in interdisciplinary innovation and that games are an exciting and largely untapped potential for teaching and learning. For the time being she enjoys board games like Betrayal at the House on the Hill as well as video games like Journey, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, and playing Nuzlocke runs of Pokémon. Her other hobbies include creative writing, photography, analyzing animated works, sleeping, and making new recipes.

savannah

SAVANNAH LIU

Savannah Liu is a sophomore from California at Dartmouth College. People have told her that her purple hair looks natural – “I know purple’s an unnatural color, but you know what I mean.” Apart from everything that’s wrong with the environment, her biggest problem right now is that she has never been to an Aziz Ansari show.

shivang

SHIVANG SETHI

Shivang Sethi is a ’17 at Dartmouth College pursuing a major in Computer Science and a minor in Digital Arts. Shivang is interested in product design, digital design and fashion. He loves playing and critically analyzing video games. Shivang grew up in New Delhi, India where he loves traveling, eating amazing food, running, and playing squash.

john

SARA HOLSTON

Sara Holston is a ’17 at Dartmouth College, studying English and some Computer Science. She has a geographic identity crisis about where she’s from, hailing from both Menlo Park and Philadelphia. She has been interested in game design since she learned that there are people engaged in making games to save the world and her mind was blown. She is hoping that she will gain enough world-saving experience to be recruited as the newest member of the Batfamily.

simone

SIMONE WIEN

Simone Wien ‘16 is a Geography modified with Economics major and a Public Policy minor from New Rochelle, NY. At Tiltfactor, Simone helps test and evaluate games and has an interest in understanding how cultural identity is reflected in the types of games that people play and enjoy. Having never played a video game until coming to college, Simone now spends much of her free time doing, uh, “research”.

emma1

EMMA MARSANO

Emma Marsano is a member of the undergraduate class of 2018 at Dartmouth College, as is interning with Tiltfactor for the Winter and Spring terms of 2015. She has not declared a major but is interested in cognitive science, literature, and romance languages. At Tilt, Emma manages social media accounts and helps design studies comparing digital and non-digital learning platforms. In her free time, she skis and drinks coffee, though not simultaneously. She’s from the SF Bay Area in California and, as such, is not entirely sure she’ll survive winter in Hanover, but she’s working on it!

jinny

EUN “JINNY” SEO

Eun “Jinny” Seo is a member of the class of 2016 from Dallas, TX. She immigrated to Texas when she was 9 years old and proceeded to name herself after a character from Harry Potter but spelled it incorrectly. She’s still not sure why her parents let a fourth grader name herself. Currently, she is double majoring in her lifelong passion, studio art, and computer science modified with digital arts.

luisa

LUISA VASQUEZ

Luisa Vasquez is currently an undergraduate at Dartmouth, class of 2018. She is working as an intern with the lab through the Women in Science Project. Although she is undeclared she’s planning on majoring in either Computer Science or Engineering, and maybe pursuing minors in Human Centered Design and Digital Art. She’s interested in all different aspects of game development, from the initial research, visual design, programming, playing them… etc. Her favorite board game is Ticket to Ride, which she enjoys playing with her mom and close family friends, with whom she gets far too competitive.

marco

MARCO BARRAGAN

Marco Barragan is an undergrad in the class of 2016. Born in Mexico, he currently resides in New Rochelle, NY. He is a computer science major with an interest in foreign languages. Marco enjoys playing video games and watching Netflix. Give him any spicy food and he will eat it.

nikita

NIKITA SHAIVA

Nikita Shaiva is an ’18 from New Jersey. She is planning on majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Computer Science. Nikita ended up at Tiltfactor because she thinks it represents the hallmark of a liberal arts education—combining aspects of computer science, psychology, digital arts and gaming to effect meaningful social change. Her favorite game is the strategy board game Sid Meier’s Civilization. Nikita is also an avid tea-drinker, tennis-player, mystery fiction-reader, photographer, and list-maker.

will

WILL ROSSI

Will Rossi is a junior at Dartmouth College, currently studying Mechanical Engineering and Studio art with a minor in Human-Centered Design. His passion lies in product design, as he believes that creation lies in the intersection of science and art. He hails from San Francisco, CA, where he enjoys running, exploring different food trucks, and playing fiercely competitive games of Monopoly and Scategories with his family.


AFFILIATES + ADVISORS

Ruth Catlow is one of our key collaborators. She is an artist and co-director of furtherfield.org and Head of School of Design at Writtle College, UK.

Geoff Kaufman is a social psychologist and collaborator with Tiltfactor. He is an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s HCII.

Tracy Fullerton M.F.A., is an advisor to the lab and is the chair of the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinema-Television and Director of the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab at USC.

Chris Egert, one of our frequent collaborators, is Associate Professor, Interactive Games and Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Helen Nissenbaum collaborates with Mary Flanagan on Values at Play. She isis Professor of Culture & Communication, Computer Science at New York University, and Senior Fellow, Information Law Institute, NYU School of Law.

Celia Pearce is an Associate Professor in Game Design at Northeastern University.

FRIENDS + ALUMS

Shaun Akhtar, Goyo Amaro, James Bachhuber, Jonathan Belman, Dorothy Bennett, Sebastian Bierman-Lytle, Sharang Biswas, Alice Bonvicini, Jack Bowman, Perrin Brown, Francisca Caporali, Jordan Carpenter, Joyce Cho, Matthew Cloyd, Fabio Ernesto Corredor, Tsomo Cuomaoji, Amaris De La Rosa-Moreno, Sebastian DeLuca, Jim Diamond, Zara Downs, Michelle Earhart, Sarah Ettinger, Angela Ferraiolo, Sarah Gabriele, Ken Hullican, Jennifer Jacobs, Janet Kim, Yoon Ji Kim, Jacklyn Kimball, Shloka Kini, Jasmine Kumalah, Charlie Laud, Dylan Leavitt, Rebecca Leong, Xinqi Li, Laurence Liao, Alannah Linkhorn, Si Jie Loo, Suyin Looui, Lesley Lopez, Anna Lotko, Katie Lukas, Emma Marsano, Brian Mayzak, Robert McAvinue, Amdrea McClave, E McNeill, Jarah Moesch, John Montgomery, Jesus Moreno, Tina Moschella, Erika Murillo, Nicole Newman, Nick O’Leary, Royce Park, Madeline Parker, Mehta Punjasthitkul, Anupama Ramakrishnan, Viviana Ramos, Joe Ramsawak, Ashlee Roberson, Will Rossi, Lucas Sanford Long, Brendan Scully, Jinny Seo, Gareth Solbeck, Junjie Sam Tan, Cote Theriault, Shenielle Thomas, Kaya Thomas, Sydney Thomashaw, Robinson Tryon, Luisa Vasquez, Dana Venerable, Linden Vongsathorn, Simone Wein, Cecile Williams, and Menghan Zhao. We’re so proud of you guys!

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