Peter McDonald researches playfulness, designs games, and is on the lookout for new ways to play. He currently holds the position of assistant professor at DePaul University, and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 2018. His dissertation, “Playfulness 1947-2017” explores the connections between mid-century art games and the design of contemporary video games.
Peter’s research focuses on the ways that players make sense of and interpret games. Sometimes that means looking closely at the patterns of rhythm and rhyme of the songs that accompany children’s ball games, sometimes it means examining game controllers as semiotic systems. His work has appeared in Games & Culture, The American Journal of Play, and Analog Game Studies, among other publications.
As a game designer, Peter is fascinated by large-scale and pervasive forms of play, particularly Alternate Reality Games. While at the University of Chicago, he worked on several large scale games with funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the NSF, including The Project, The Source, SEED, and The Parasite. These games involved hundreds of players exploring elaborately staged worlds across the south side of Chicago and online. He finds these games exciting, because they offer an invitation to a whole community and explore utopian alternatives to everyday life.
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