Lishan AZ Named Inaugural Game Designer-in-Residence

This fall, MICA welcomes Lishan AZ as its inaugural Game Designer-in-Residence, a newly launched residency program that invites nationally recognized game designers to teach and research at MICA. 

Sponsored by MICA's new B.F.A. in Game Design, Lishan will spend a year on campus where she will work in the program's state-of-the-art Game Lab, part of MICA's newest building, the Dolphin Design Center.

"Lishan's unique background working in tabletop, mixed reality, digital and community based game projects highlights the diverse and powerful ways in which games can engage communities-which aligns closely with our program's goals," said Game Design Chair Jason Corace.

A recent graduate of the M.F.A. program in Interactive Media and Games at the University of Southern California, Lishan has a background in computer science and her design practice incorporates her technical proficiency with a commitment to advocating for underserved spaces and communities.

"I applied to MICA's Game Designer-in-Residence position because it's a unique opportunity to continue to grow my design practice while teaching what I love," she said. "I look forward to connecting with the many communities of artists and designers at MICA and Baltimore at large."

During her residency, Lishan, a Silver Spring, Md. native, will research and develop an interactive experience that connects passengers on Baltimore public transit through smart phone integration and low-cost physical materials, such as notebooks and playing cards.

By encouraging a playful intervention in a space occupied daily by transit riders, Lishan hopes her project will empower players to interact with and reclaim that space, encouraging a warmer and more social atmosphere on Baltimore's public transit.
As an example, one aspect of the project includes interactive journals tethered to rows of seats on a bus or train, which will prompt riders with a challenge or idea for creative self-expression, sharing opinions or interacting with content written by other passengers.

Prototypes based on Lishan's initial research have already been tested on the Los Angeles public transit system, and she looks forward to collaborating with the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) and its riders.

Lishan AZ is a game designer and writer who creates experiences that blend digital and non-digital play while inviting players to collaborate in shared spaces. Her work explores Black women's resistance, identity and historical perspectives. Lishan's M.F.A. thesis, Tracking Ida, is an escape room-style alternate reality game about Ida B. Wells' crusade against lynching. The project was awarded the Best Gameplay award at Games for Change 2017. Lishan earned an M.F.A. in interactive media and game design from the University of Southern California, and a B.S. in computer science from Columbia University. In 2017, Lishan was selected Forbes 30 under 30 in Gaming. In addition to Games for Change, she has exhibited work at IndieCade, LA Weekly's Artopia, Tokyo University and the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).