I am a civic media scholar and strategist, from games to mobile media for learning and civic engagement.  In 2004 I co-founded Games for Change, and today continue to build the field of social issue games. Previously, I was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. I am currently a postdoc scholar the UC Berkeley School of Information, after finishing my PhD in 2014 at USC Annenberg.  You can follow me on Twitter @bgstokes and on LinkedIn.

Research Expertise:

  • Civic learning through real-world games: I study how digital media can structure participation in real-time, engaging participants as they build civic skills in the physical world, and form network ties with immediate impact on neighborhood social issues.
  • Participatory design as civic engagement: I also facilitate and teach community-based design, blurring the overlap of digital and physical worlds (from reinventing the bus stop to mobile mapping), empowering participants to tell a collective story about the future of their neighborhood, while learning skills of coding and urban planning.

Research Group Affiliations (see also my Projects): I have been investigating how mobile media can situate civic learning in the physical world with the Situated Engagement Group that I helped start with François Bar at the USC; in my work with Tracy Fullerton at the Game Innovation Lab I study how real-world games shape learning networks; in working with the Metamorphosis project led by Sandra Ball-Rokeach I study neighborhood empowerment by analyzing the local communication ecology; and across all this, in my work with Henry Jenkins in Civic Paths I investigate how civic life is changing for young people in a digital age as part of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics.  I am currently a research fellow at the Center for Media and Social Impact at American University, where I am working with Games for Change to develop a typology of impact for games addressing civic issues.

Additional Background: I have managed programs at NetAid/Mercy Corps in gaming, online volunteering, and online peer learning for global citizenship (now the Global Citizen Corps). Working in educational technology, I was a producer at ProQuest/Bigchalk.com, which reached more than 43,000 schools. I have developed digital games (see the Peter Packet Challenge) and learning communities that engaged more than 150,000 youth in fighting extreme poverty. I studied the single atom wire for my B.A. in physics at Haverford College, and studied West African drumming in Senegal.  

Contact me: If you need to reach me by email, please write bgs@benjaminstokes.net.

* Photo credit: Ida Benedetto