Our team is led by Dr. Benjamin Stokes and based at American University in Washington, DC.  

APPROACH: The future of cities depends on  participation and engagement. Our lab in Washington, DC, investigates the power of playful tactics to advance equity, strengthen the sense of place, and build strong communities.

Recent research

Our DC Storytelling System launched in 2018 in collaboration with the Smithsonian and with the DC Public Libraries (2019) as a new approach to circulating stories of local history and activism tied to neighborhoods and civic institutions.

Report: Cities Remix Pokémon GO (2018) — the first large-scale investigation into how cities can appropriate and remix commercial games to advance local goals, including within “open street” festivals and with neighborhood libraries. The report provides a few hints at the future of cities as participatory spaces, showing how playful engagement can connect disparate groups and organizations.

Report: “Impact” with Games — rethinking “impact” with games, and how the right language is crucial to overcome fragmentation. In partnership with Games for Change, with funding from the Packard Foundation.

Recent funding and collaborators:

  • The Henry Luce Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in support of our work with the Humanities Truck
  • The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with Niantic, Inc., in support of our research on cities appropriating Pokemon GO (see the report “Cities Remix a Playful Platform“)
  • The Packard Foundation and Games for Change, in support of our work on the Game Impact Project
  • Smithsonian Women’s Committee for their support of our DC storytelling system for the “Right to the City” exhibit at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
  • The Leimert Phone Company and our experimental game Sankofa Says (featured at IndieCade, and profiled in forthcoming book)

Additional research includes:

Meet our full team and alumni.

To stay in touch, reach us @bgstokes and bstokes@american.edu.