I am an assistant professor at American University, specializing in civic media and neighborhood empowerment.  My research is based in our Game Lab and Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI). My teaching ranges from our Communication PhD program to an innovative course on playful cities in our Game Design MA

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

Background: In 2004 I co-founded Games for Change, the leading festival and hub for social issues and games. I was then a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. Most recently, I spent a year teaching data science at the UC Berkeley School of Information. My PhD is from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Current research:

  • Stronger neighborhoods with real-world games: I study how communities can use digital media to shape engagement on physical streets and in strong places, including to connect neighbors and preserve local culture. (A book is forthcoming.)
  • Participatory design of civic media: I facilitate and teach community-based design, especially with urban furniture like rebuilt payphones and our humanities truck.
  • 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 empower local communities (co-founded with François Bar at USC, Ben Caldwell at KAOS, and Karl Baumann); I worked with Tracy Fullerton at the Game Innovation Lab to investigate how real-world games shape learning networks; with the Metamorphosis project led by Sandra Ball-Rokeach I studied 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 learning for global citizenship. Working in educational technology, I was a producer at ProQuest/Bigchalk.com, which reached more than 43,000 schools. I developed digital games (e.g., 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: The best way to reach me is by email, bstokes@american.edu.