Cultures of Collaboration and Community

So I figured I’d do something different this week and talk about the importance of Serious Play beyond its academic endeavors.


So I know the overall tone of this blog is academic because that’s sort of what we’re here to do, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the things I know that everyone in the collab feels is important, but doesn’t always get highlighted to the public through the weekly posts we make here. 

Today, I’m here to talk about community. I want to talk about support and trust and all of the things Serious Play has and why it’s crucial to preserve a culture of collaboration when so much of academia is built on isolation and cut-throat competition. 

When we all sat down to play at Lunch Zone to play Crypt of the NecroDancer, the atmosphere in the room wasn’t just fun and friendly, but it was familial. Here we are, faculty members, doctors, and future doctors, all taking turns and having fun trying and failing at navigating musical dungeons. We played musical chairs, swapping who sat where as we changed who was playing and discussing how our different backgrounds and research interests affect our understanding of the game.  

However, what I think is more important is what goes on outside of the collab, outside of the times where we are discussing games critically and doing our best to incorporate different theoretical readings into whichever show we’re running. Be it emotional or academic help, everyone in that room has supported me and other members, just as I have done for them. I don’t submit anything to seminars without Erik giving me feedback on my paper. Laya was the first person from Serious Play to hang out with me and welcome me to Milwaukee. Krista-Lee barely knew me when she sat down and helped me write my seminar paper about Twitch. Ryan has given me journals from his own subscriptions when he sees something up my academic alley. Nathan showed me how to use the streaming software so I would be able to run my own shows. Janelle backed me up so many times in seminar that I’m less nervous about voicing what I think in class discussions. That’s not even speaking to the people who weren’t able to make it into the Lunch Zone that day or to David, who sat in for his first stream with us. 

These are the sorts of environments I believe need to be fostered in academia, because I don’t think I would be as strong of a writer and researcher without the inspiration and help I’ve found from people within this collab. That’s not to say that there’s not plenty of room left for me left to grow, of course, but I know that I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have without everyone in Serious Play. I also know I’m a lot happier knowing I’ve got a dozen people to turn to for support. I think one of the greatest compliments I could give regarding Serious Play is that I wish for every graduate student to have a community like this, because I don’t think that any one person could reach their full potential without a group of people like the friends I’ve found in Serious Play.  

Casey James


  1. Hi, friend. I must say, I really enjoyed this. I read the transcript first, then listened to it and I think that this medium really highlights what you’re talking about here. It feels way more personal/familial and I think gives a really nice overview of what we do on the blog AND what we do in and out of the lab as a group. This group is much more than just a research collaboratory, though it definitely is that. Thank you for sharing this with us and for emphasizing what makes this group so special.

    Also, special thanks to you Kelly for always being an advocate in and out of the classroom. I always feel more confident speaking up in and out of seminars because of how affirming and supportive you are as a friend and colleague.

    • I’m glad you like it! Also happy to have you in SP and along for the grad school ride for the next H A L F D E C A D E

  2. Thank you for the excellent work here Kelly! I wanted to ask you what’s inspired this particular medium, and the excellent prose direction, as well as the excellent audio quality.

    • My students keep writing about how hearing someone’s voice appeals to their emotions more than text [they’re writing about podcasts right now]. I also think that making the blog multimodal/multimedia is important :). Audio quality comes from audacity #freeware.

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