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Podcast: Why the Games Learning Society matters

Two videogames observers reflect on the demise of a cutting-edge research group at UW-Madison.

Two videogames observers reflect on the demise of a cutting-edge research group at UW-Madison.

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Photo illustration by David Wolinsky.

Photo illustration by David Wolinsky.

As far as most people are concerned, the Games Learning Society at UW-Madison is just an obscure corner of academia. But within the video games world, GLS has driven important developments in the educational and social role of games. In its own small way, GLS has also shaped the fortunes of game developers and the tech industry here in Madison.

GLS founders Kurt Squire and Constance Steinkuehler recently announced that they’ll be leaving UW-Madison and that GLS will shut down in January. The group held what was presumably its final annual conference in Madison earlier this month.

I asked my friend David Wolinsky, who attended the conference and runs the video-games oral-history project Don’t Die (I strongly recommend checking out this project, and I’m someone who doesn’t usually follow games that closely), and Tone Madison co-founder Mark Riechers, who’s had some experience with GLS and also keeps up with the games world, to share some perspective on this.

David and Mark explained the role of GLS in the gaming and academic worlds, how its departure will impact game developers in Madison, and of course the mounting climate of contempt for research in Wisconsin. Give our conversation a listen below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and catch WORT-FM’s weeknight local news show, which partners with us to produce these. Thanks to Dylan Brogan for producing this interview.

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