By: Diane Stirling
Associate Professor Scott Nicholson, known for his work in meaningful gamification and a number of creative initiatives via the Because Play Matters Game Lab while at the School of Information Studies, is leaving to pursue a new adventure and to plow new educational gaming ground.
Nicholson has been selected as a professor of games and the director and first hire for a new game design and development degree program in Ontario, Canada. He will direct the new program at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford branch, a program that offers a bachelor’s degree in fine and applied arts. Its students will create board, video, and live-action games with a general focus on games that make a difference, he said.
“Gaming is a new area of focus for the school,” Nicholson relayed, saying he looks forward to the startup of a new educational program which, though it just received approval from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, is already highly popular, with 178 current program applicants.
The professor noted that the school also is working toward a “Play Brantford” initiative, so part of his portfolio will include integrating the educational program within the town and pulling in game development companies from Toronto. Wilfred Laurier University’s Brantford site is located about 30 minutes west of Hamilton and an hour from Toronto. Nicholson said his lab will be in a residence hall that is a gaming residence community for students in the program.
Nicholson joined the Syracuse iSchool in 2001, and was granted tenure in 2007. He has served as director of the Because Play Matters Game Lab and the Game Designers’ Guild (2012-2015). He was director for the Library Game Lab of Syracuse from 2007 to 2011, and served as program director for the master’s of science degree in library and information science program from January 2007 through August of 2011. During his time at the School of Information Studies, he received the Jeffrey Katzer Professor of the Year award (2003) and the Robert Benjamin Faculty Research Award (2005).
During his time at Syracuse, Nicholson founded the Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group for the American Library Association and the Syracuse University American Library Association student organization. He also led the 2008 ALA Reaccreditation process at the school, which resulted in full reaccreditation. Nicholson also was an advisor to a New York State Senate Committee for the development of a state policy on developing the digital games industry development in New York State. From September 2011 to May 2012, he was a visiting associate professor in comparative media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he served as a visiting scholar to the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game lab. While a resident scholar in the Simmons Housing Resident Scholar program, he was an instructor in alternate reality game design creation workshop there.
The associate professor said he appreciated the warm welcome that was offered at the iSchool, and the professional relationships that have been extended. “I have appreciated the mentorship and support I've gotten over the years helping me go from a junior faculty member with no experience to starting a new department [at Wilfrid], he said.