I am an assistant professor at American University where I focus on civic media — especially through our game lab and MA, communication studies PhD, and our Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI).

>> Reach me on Twitter @bgstokes and on LinkedIn. For recent projects, see my news updates.

Background: In 2004 I co-founded Games for Change, and I continue to help build the field of social issue games. Next I was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. I also spent a year at the UC Berkeley School of Information, where I was a postdoc researcher and instructor in their program on data science. My PhD is from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Current research:

  • Stronger neighborhoods with real-world games: I study how digital media can help shape engagement on physical streets and in real communities, introduce neighbors to build social capital, and amplify local culture.
  • Participatory design of civic media: I also facilitate and teach community-based design, blurring the overlap of digital and physical worlds, empowering participants to tell a collective story about the future of their neighborhood, while learning digital skills.
  • How we talk about impact with games: New projects and funding often repeat the same mistakes.  As a field, can unified language and tools help us to work across disciplines and increase impact?  See #GameImpact.

Research history: see my projects page for the latest.  I continue work with the Leimert Phone Company to consider how mobile media and urban furniture can situate civic engagement in local communities (co-founded with François Bar at USC, Ben Caldwell at KAOS, and Karl Baumann); in my work with Tracy Fullerton at the Game Innovation Lab I studied 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 investigated how civic life is changing for young people in a digital age as part of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics.

In Another Era… I 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 bstokes@american.edu.

* Photo credit: Ida Benedetto