LabEx ICCA has been a supporting partner of FabLab LudoMaker since 2017.
Inaugurated in June of 2016, LudoMaker is a “young” FabLab specializing in games, toys and playful devices. It aims to be a place of education, research, and innovation in the fields of cultural products and cultural industries, especially in relation to (video) games and education. LudoMaker is an original research and training site, extending beyond its academic purpose to showcase the emergence of new forms, as well as the places were object design and artistic, recreational, educational, and cultural product creation occurs.
Launched by the Department of Education Sciences at University Paris 13 as part of the IDEX “Innovative Teaching” call for projects, LudoMaker gives students, teachers, and researchers a chance to discover, design, prototype, and test out recreational products and applications, both educational and otherwise, from toys and board games to video games.
Providing design training for cultural, recreational, and educational products
The FabLab operates on two levels: the first can be described as “formal” and refers to the program’s implementation across university curricula. As part of various teaching units dealing with themes of designing, developing, and creating recreational and/or educational media, the FabLab is open to students, teachers, researchers, and professionals (game designers). Over the past thirty years, Paris 13 University has been developing a research and teaching unit in this same field, and consequently included the FabLab in several of its programs, including the Bachelor’s Program in Pro Level/Game Design (IUT Bobigny, MMI Department, UFR SIC, LABSIC) and the Master’s Program in Game Studies (University Paris 13, Department of Educational Sciences, EXPERICE). A second, more “informal” approach follows the pedagogical trend out of which the FabLabs were born. Outside of institutional education, the program is open to individual initiatives and personal projects furthered by students, teachers, and staff at USPC. Personal initiatives relating to design, creation, and innovation are encouraged, and supported within the boundaries of the site’s legal, technical, and human means.
A center for applied research: creating and designing cultural products
With its original focus on games in their varied forms, FabLab encourages applied research that experiments with playful and/or educational products. Several serious game projects have been designed or are currently in development.
One example is “The Porter Case,” a game developed by Ashley Eschenbourg, who teaches in the English department at University Paris 13, in collaboration with our pedagogical engineer. The Porter Case is a LARP (Live Action Roleplaying Game) that helps players learn English. Players must reenact the different stages of a trial (based on real news stories) in English, using news articles and court reports as props, all while pursuing a series of goals specific to the game.
A meeting place for students, researchers, and industry professionals
The FabLab relies on a network of professionals from the game and toy industries, and from the world of education. Since it was first launched, it has hosted industry players from all of these sectors, bringing together authors, publishers, and designers. Several professionals with whom we work have become regular fixtures in the FabLab’s training programs.
A masterclass on the cultural industries
Starting in January 2017, a series of masterclasses focusing on the game industries and their actors was organized. The goal of these classes is to invite professionals from the board and video game industries to present their field of activity, sparking discussions with students and researchers. Three topics are currently explored:
- (Video) games and journalism: in line with the LUDOPRESSE research (funded by LABEX), the idea is to invite (video)game journalists to discuss the current state of the industry with students and researchers, and to talk about professional opportunities, challenges, and economic models in the digital age.
- Publishing roleplaying games in the digital age: publishers and designers are invited to present their work and discuss the evolution of the industry and the growing role of crowdfunding.
- Trades and professions in the video game industry: researchers and students are given a chance to meet with professionals, stakeholders, groups, and teachers, in a way that expands on the research project “A ‘French Touch’ in the Video Game Industry?”, which feeds into ongoing research conducted within the laboratory on “the evolution of skills and professionals in the video game industry.”
Partnerships with industry professionals
The FabLab also pursues more direct partnerships with the industries. Based on professional challenges often related to issues of design, these partnerships allow students to discuss or experiment with various approaches. Projects of this kind include partnerships with Origames and Wild Games, and have been established with the aim of offering testing and consulting services in the field of video and board games.
Multimedia libraries and museums
Partnerships are also underway with the Plaine Commune multimedia libraries and several local communities. The purpose is to train cultural outreach professionals in the use of games and 3D design. Multimedia libraries are often interested in the development of FabLabs within their institutions and are often looking for a resource center providing training and similar services. Training programs are offered throughout the year. Museums have also shown a growing interest in using enhanced and/or virtual reality devices during visits. In collaboration with the Paris 13 incubator, a partnership has been set up with the company Art Of Corner Studio, which specializes in 3D imagery, in order to beta-test a virtual reality program for museum and art studio visits.
An international network of GameLabs and FabLabs
As a place of training and research on games and education, the FabLab is becoming increasingly involved with a booming network of university GameLabs in the field of international research. At the national level, a partnership with Gamixlab (Paris-Est Créteil Higher School of Engineers) has been set up, which includes regular exchanges and meetings between students and instructors. At the European level, a first round of common courses and student exchanges has been established with universities in Liège, Brussels, and Louvain-la-Neuve, involving teachers and researchers from the Liège GameLab and the JMVLab.
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