Grant to fund gaming lab


From playing Dungeons & Dragons as a child to working with technology at the University of Virginia, a Butler English professor has always been interested in video games.

“The complexity of video games today allows you to immerse yourself in another world, which is the same thing as a novel,” Jason Goldsmith said. “For me, it has always been about the story. That’s what I find most compelling.”

On Aug. 26 President James Danko and the Innovation Fund’s evaluation committee announced their grant awards.

The committee awarded Goldsmith a grant to create a gaming lab dedicated to the study of video games.

According to the Butler website, the Innovation  Fund was founded in 2012 in order to “help the university reach new levels of excellence.”

Grants are awarded to several projects every year. According to the Butler website, applicants must submit a proposal that seeks to “foster creativity and facilitate collaboration.”

The evaluation committee consists of faculty, staff, students and external representatives.

Every committee member ranked their top 10 grant proposals following a set criteria based on Danko’s Vision for 2020. The Innovation Fund’s Executive Director Jason Range compiled a list of proposals for the committee to discuss more in-depth in early May.

Senior Luke Shadiow, a student representative on the committee said the fund gives students and faculty an opportunity to make a difference at Butler.

“It is giving students and faculty the opportunity to put up projects they think will make Butler more unique by 2020,” Shadiow said. “We want to give students and faculty an opportunity to make their big statement on campus. With funding, they can pursue their passions and dreams how they envision them.”

This year, the committee awarded more than $200,000 to 10 of the 37 proposed grants.

Goldsmith was awarded $13,600 for his proposal for a lab for experimentation.

He said videogames are a large part of our culture, so it is necessary to study the effects of videogames and how they influence our understanding in order to keep up with evolving technology.

Goldsmith said he hopes the gaming lab will not only study narrative but also branch out to embrace the study of sociology, gender dynamics, economics and more.

“I hope that video games and computer games become a more serious subject for study,” Goldsmith said. “I don’t imagine a major devoted to this, by any chance, but I would like to see it sort of filter through into other disciplines and departments and see that they’re making use of it in the best way that they can.”

Senior Kate Shertzer agrees the gaming lab will benefit several facets of the university.

“I think anyone in the social sciences, art or technology will get something out of video games,” she said. “They will find something that they can apply, even business and marketing (majors) could explore what goes on behind video games.”

Goldsmith plans to purchase task-specific hardware such as gaming computers. He also is looking for a place to house the lab that is central and easily accessible to all students.

Goldsmith said he hopes the lab will be staffed entirely by students eventually.

Goldsmith plans to receive input from the Butler community to improve his vision.

“I want to go around polling and talking to different people,” he said. “I want to see if this is something they’d be interested in and how they envision it because I don’t want it to be something simply Jason Goldsmith came up with I want this to be a resource for the university.”

Goldsmith said he is very thankful for the Innovation Fund.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “They’re all incredibly helpful and supportive. They recognize that to innovate you need to take risks. It allows me to take risks and that’s where true growth and development comes from.”