What's in a Name?
The story of GAMBIT can be found in our name itself the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. First, read our Mission Statement, then break down our name with us into three component questions: Why GAMBIT?, Why Singapore and MIT?, and Why a Game Lab?
The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab was a five-year research initiative, extended to six years, that addressed important challenges faced by the global digital game research community and industry, with a core focus on identifying and solving research problems using a multi-disciplinary approach that can be applied by Singapore's digital game industry. The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab focuses on building collaborations between Singapore institutions of higher learning and several MIT departments to accomplish both research and development.
Learn more about the history of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab through its final report.
Our name partly represents our existence as an opening gambit into a new stage of development for the games industry as a whole, for Singapore as a new digital arts and entertainment center, and for the examination and consideration of games in an academic environment.
That said, GAMBIT is also an acronym, reflecting the broad and interdisciplinary scope of the research pursued within our initiative:
- Gamers - Player cultures and communities. Behavior, habits, and values.
- Aesthetics - Concepts of expression and representation to engage the senses.
- Mechanics - Rule design, constraints, system dynamics, and challenge.
- Business - Best practices for risk and project management, industry trends.
- Innovation - Novel and hybrid genres of gameplay and demographic appeal.
- Technology - Software and hardware interfaces, computation, and rendering.
Why Singapore and MIT?
In the past, video games have been developed in Asia and then translated for Western audiences, or vice versa. In today's environment, entertainment is developed for a global market from the outset. In the words of GAMBIT Lead Principal Investigator Henry Jenkins, "The next generation of game designers will need to be able to communicate in a global context and appreciate the cultural diversity that characterizes current game production."
GAMBIT creates a space for just such conceptual and cultural cross-pollination, enabling students and researchers from Singapore to collaborate with MIT researchers and game industry professionals in international research projects. Beyond technology development, GAMBIT will also conduct research on the artistic, creative, business and social aspects of games. The new initiative will also provide Singapore game researchers and professionals with access to cutting-edge technologies, the latest conceptual developments and links to international game development and research communities.
"We are excited by this collaboration with colleagues in Singapore and the opportunity to push game research and the industry in new directions, and we very much look forward to initiating an international dialogue among leading scholars, designers, students and gamers," says Lead Principal Investigator William Uricchio, a specialist in trans-national media distribution and reception.
Why a Game Lab?
Academia and industry have long had a somewhat problematic relationship. Academics shake their heads at the constraints imposed by the limitations and tastes of the popular market, and professionals in the industry consider the academics' view from the ivory tower to be unrealistic. Industry professionals are also too busy keeping their projects financially afloat to read dry academic papers.
GAMBIT aims to serve as an interpreter between academia and industry by creating playable, real-world demonstrations of the concepts and research being conducted in academia. GAMBIT's game lab provides a place for students, academics and industry professionals to work together to develop games that both expand the boundaries of what is done in games while still keeping a close eye on whether the games are financially feasible and, perhaps more importantly, are fun to play.
Again, in the words of Henry Jenkins: "Studio-based production, across all media, has had two effects: ensuring a relatively high standard of production and capping opportunities for innovation and individual expression. As the costs of games get pushed higher and higher, many wonder where fresh new ideas will come from."
Fellow GAMBIT LPI William Uricchio adds, "[GAMBIT provides a] unique chance to reflect on games and to push them in new and unexpected directions, whether in terms of emerging technologies and interfaces, diverse cultural vocabularies, or important niches that have simply been neglected in the rush to seize the largest market share."
In short, GAMBIT aims to produce real, commercially and artistically viable games that model new directions for both academia and industry to explore.