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Stephen Walter

Managing Director, Engagement Game Lab

Stephen Walter, managing director of the Engagement Game Lab, makes and studies media for civic engagement and social justice that aim to foster and amplify experiences of complexity, pluralism, and play. The Engagement Game Lab is an applied research lab at Emerson College dedicated to innovating the ways people participate in civic life and expanding the study of citizenship in a digital era. Its current projects include Community PlanIt, a game platform and social network designed to facilitate official community planning processes (used in such cities as Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, LA, and Cape Town), Civic Seed, a social role-playing game that facilitates the relationship between volunteers and local community organizations, and Nyami Nyami, an SMS-based early warning/early action game for understanding and predicting river levels along flood-prone areas of the Zambezi River in Zambia. Through its partnership with the City of Boston, the Lab runs the Design Action Research for Government project, aimed at evaluating and disseminating experimental methods of civic engagement for local governments. Steve has worked at the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston EMS, Boston Center for the Arts, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the PBS television shows Frontline and Nova. He’s also worked with the International Red Cross, Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Tufts University, Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and the MacArthur, Knight, and Pearson foundations.