2018 Attending Meaningful Play Conference for the First Time (+ Got My Picture Taken with MSU’s Mascot, “Sparty”)

The Meaningful Play Conference was amazing. I ate this giant pickle!


Well, actually, this picture was taken with some new friends I made at the conference. (Huge digression about pickles in 3…2….1…: And it wasn’t my pickle. I don’t like pickles. I once dropped a pickle off in my brother’s girlfriend’s mailbox because I don’t like them. So if you ever receive a pickle in the mail, it may be from me.)

The people I met were all interested in gaming, and several shared an interest in empathy. This conference was a big “a-ha” moment. I realized that there is this entire group that uses stories and play (which involves emotional investment) to teach people about how to be more empathetic. One of the most awesome presentations I saw was from Sandra Danilovic. You can read about her work here.

I also attended a presentation on failure. This was incredible. A good reminder that all “shit” is compost. These were my favorites:

Plus, I bought a game that’s designed to create meaningful listening exchanges. I’m so excited to use this for writing and for facilitating conversations with my students!







The strange part was that she/he/they was either shy or purposefully silent, so I had to get a non-verbal confirmation that I could grab a selfie with Sparty.



And just like that, Sparty was gone.I’ve checked an important item off of the MSU bucket list. Fare thee well, Sparty.

My interaction of Sparty reminds me of an activity I did at a workshop on using Photovoice as a methodology. To understand the process, the leaders of this workshop facilitated a Photovoice activity. We were prompted to go out and take a picture that represented MSU to us.


Below is the picture I took:

In the the second part of this workshop, we created a pop-up installation with the pictures that the facilitators printed out. It was awesome to see the diverse ways in which attendees saw MSU. I found that taking a picture that zoomed in on my own individual experience. This is a place where I’ve made a lot of connections and developed enough personally to start to develop a more personal relationship with a larger community. The ivy felt like an appropriate metaphor. Plus, you know, it’s green and many MSU folks¬† LOVE ALL THINGS GREEN! This activity helped me realize how much I really do love MSU. While MSU has issues, I also recognize all of the students, grad students, GEU, and faculty who are actively taking these issues on. This work ripples into bigger social conversations about safety, the environment, and discrimination.¬† And I’m proud to be among these activists, including (but certainly not limited to) those in the Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures + the Curriculum, Instruction, & Teacher Education departments.