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September 28, 2020
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Political snarls drive prominent game educators out of Wisconsin

Political snarls drive prominent game educators out of Wisconsin

July 26, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

I do worry it’s a setback for UW-Madison...But hopefully not for the game development scene."

- Constance Steinkuehler, co-director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Games + Learning + Society Center, on her and her husband's decision to leave the state.

Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire, the married pair of video game researchers and educators who have long called the University of Wisconsin-Madison home, are planning to decamp for California.

That's notable because the pair (pictured) have been a significant force in Wisconsin's nascent game development scene: they co-direct the university's Games + Learning + Society Center, and Steinkuehler (who leads the Higher Video Game Education Alliance and once served as a video game czar for the Obama administration) founded and currently chairs the state's annual Games & Learning & Society Conference. 

They've both been significant figures in trying to attract game development talent and resources to the state, but now they tell local outlet Isthmus that they're moving to California to take jobs at the University of California in Irvine due, in part, to a "disrespectful" and "cantankerous" political climate in Wisconsin.

“We realized we can put our backs into building through the university, but without the support of policymakers, we’re hamstrung,” Steinkuehler told Isthmus. “That’s different in places like California and New York. I would rather not spend my time on administrative problems that make my life difficult.”

The pair have been working to establish a formal game development program at the university for at least a decade, and Isthmus speculates that their decision to leave will delay that process or torpedo it outright. UC Irvine, by comparison, already has a game development degree program in place.

It's yet unclear what will happen to the GLS Conference or GLS Center, though Isthmus again suggests that this year's GLS Conference, which kicks off next month at the university, may be the last.

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