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Eric Zimmerman is a game designer, entrepreneur, artist, author, and academic who has been working in the game industry for nearly 20 years.
Eric’s diverse activities have made him one of the New York Observer’s “Power Punks,” one of Interview Magazine’s “30 To Watch,” one of International Design Magazine’s “ID 40” influential designers and one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Digital 50” along with Stephen Spielberg and Will Wright. Eric has received a “VIP Award” by the International Game Developers Association for his years of work in the game creation community. Eric has been called “The Lou Reed of Games” by Stephen Johnson in his book Emergence and leading games scholar Dr. James Paul Gee has written that Eric “is surely one of the smartest and most creative humans I have ever met.”
Eric was the Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer of Gamelab, a game development company based in New York City that was named one of 5 “Rising Star” design firms by HOW Magazine. Gamelab’s games, which include the casual game blockbuster hit Diner Dash, have won awards from the GDC Independent Games Festival, Games for Change, ID Magazine, Art Directors Club, ARS Electronica, as well as finalist nominations in the Webby Awards, the IGDA Developers Choice Awards, and the Zeebys casual game awards. Founded in 2000, Gamelab created innovative games for broad audiences, including singleplayer and multiplayer online games, as well as games in other media both on and off the computer. Gamelab worked with partners including LEGO, HBO, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Disney, Mattel, PlayFirst, PBS, Fisher-Price, Leapfrog, and many, many others. Gamelab closed its doors in 2009.
Gamelab spun off two successful companies, including Gamestar Mechanic, an online site that was funded by the MacArthur Foundation that lets kids create games. Gamelab also created the Institute of Play, a nonprofit that looks at the intersection of games and learning that has launched two schools in New York City and Chicago based on games and play as the model for learning. Eric’s game design work prior to Gamelab includes the critically acclaimed SiSSYFiGHT 2000 as the PC games Gearheads and The Robot Club. He sits on the board of the Institute of Play, the advisory board of Games for Change, and the Advisory for Digital Media for Global Kids.
Since Gamelab closed, Eric has been exploring commercial and independent games in a variety of media. With architect Nathalie Pozzi, he has created a series of award-winning large-scale physical games exhibited in museums and galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Eric co-founded experimental game collective Local No. 12 with Colleen Macklin and John Sharp, whose projects include the Metagame, a card game about aesthetic debate. He collaborated with Curious Pictures and Deepak Chopra to create Leela, a game for the Xbox Kinect about play as a form of meditation. With filmmaker David Kaplan, Eric created the award-winning short film PLAY. New projects include the Brooklyn Game Ensemble, a design collective working on an independent game inspired by the work of Argentinian author Luis Borges.
Eric has taught courses at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program, New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and Game Center, Parsons School of Design’s MFA in Digital Technologies Program, and School of Visual Arts’ Designer as Author MFA Program. He is a founding faculty at the NYU Game Center, where he currently works with the faculty and staff to shape the curriculum and teach game design as a full-time professor.
Eric lectures and publishes extensively on games, including frequent keynotes at major industry events. He is the co-author with Katie Salen of Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, the definitive textbook on game design (MIT Press, 2004). He is also the co-editor with Katie Salen of The Game Design Reader (MIT Press, 2006) and co-editor with Amy Scholder of RE:PLAY – Game Design and Game Culture (Peter Lang Press, 2003). Eric trains Shaolin Kung Fu at the USA Shaolin Temple under Sifu Shi Yan Ming.
Eric is an internationally recognized creative force, design scholar, and pundit on game design and game culture.