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Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • A graphic with DETROIT in large block letters with a view of the game graphics embedded.

    Using Gaming to Build Community Connections: Dot’s Home

    Janay Pope

    Ever since I could remember, there was always something to do in Detroit with my family. From spending time by the river, I enjoyed festivals like River Days, auto shows, Fourth of July fireworks, and the Eastern Market every weekend to enjoy breakfast with my parents. When people think of Detroit, some everyday things that come to mind are Motown or Motor City. Many focus on the downtown area, yet the city is much bigger than the new Campus Martius. As the downtown area grows into a fast-paced shopping and tech hub, the rest of the city is not receiving the same love.

    My family has been in Detroit for generations and has seen how the city has changed, yet there was not much in the mainstream media about how different things were when my great-grandmother and grandma were growing up. Now, through different forms of media: film, art, and gaming, Detroit’s history is making its way to people not just outside the city but throughout the state of Michigan.

    Dot’s Home

    Games for Change is an organization that facilitates communities of gaming creators and also hosts multiple events annually. In 2022, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) helped housing justice organizers, Weathered Sweater and Rise Home Stories Project compete in the Games for Change Festival. Their forward-thinking video game Dot’s Home was recognized for its narrative-driven interactive component and won awards for best impact and for being the best civic game.

    Dot’s Home is an interactive narrative-driven video game that can be played via desktop or mobile devices. It follows a young African American woman who lives with her grandmother and can time travel to the past with their family house key. Through her journey, players get to decide her path as she learns about the housing crisis and disparities that took place over the years in her hometown, Detroit, Michigan. Dot meets family members from the past, including her grandmother, and players learn about the different challenges for each generation, from redlining to the Detroit riots and gentrification. The game is profound with its use of current cultural references and its ability to rope in the past entertainingly, so players stay engaged throughout the storyline. Not to mention it is fun and relaxing to play when there is down time, and you want to learn something new!

    Ready. Set. Play!

    Detroit and many similar places continue to face housing crises today. There are also so many amazing creatives in the tech world working on intersecting education and video gaming. Dot’s Home may have won the award, but plenty of interactive games deserve their flowers. Below are some honorable mentions from the Games for Change organization that resonated with me or that I found to also be impactful in the way Dot’s Home has:

    • Svoboda 1945: Liberation – Charles Games
    • Blackhaven – Historiated Games
    • MadeVR – Take me to the end of the Assembly Line from Singing Cicadas

    To learn more about the advancements of gaming and how it is working to connect with communities, be sure to check out Games for Change.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A picture of the blog author’s campus with the words ‘Welcome Home & Away’.

    Creating a Home Away from Home

    Janay Pope

    Whether you are a freshman moving into your dorm, a senior living on your own, or a transfer student getting adjusted to a new school’s structure, being away from home can be a unique, exciting moment in your life. Yet, it can also be stressful or, at times, lonely. It is a new experience for some college students to make new friends and explore a new community independently. Many college students go through a period where they realize they can start over but do not know how to start or feel awkward exploring a new environment. Here are some lessons I’ve learned on making new friends and creating your new home away from home.

    Finding Resources

    Moving out of the house away from one’s parents may seem like the highlight of college, but no one prepares you for feeling homesick or feeling like a stranger in a new community. This was the case for me coming from Michigan, moving to Oxford, Ohio, and later transferring to Florida A&M University located in Tallahassee, Florida. I went from a virtual space during my first and second years to an in-person experience, so getting involved on campus was challenging. It felt like everyone had a head start because they had already been there. One of the ways I overcame this was accepting guidance from faculty, joining on-campus and off-campus organizations, and connecting with local businesses where I could meet people in the same situation as me but who came from different backgrounds.

    Getting Connected

    A great way to get connected is to get involved with events on campus. Most will have back-to-school events to kick off the new semester. If you prefer to leave campus, get involved in the community. Some towns may seem small, but sometimes less is more because there is beauty in simplicity. Here is a list of things to do that may spark ideas to explore the community around you.

    • Local theater
    • Festivals / carnivals
    • Restaurants
    • Community/botanical gardens
    • Flea markets & local markets
    • Local sports teams involvement
    • Car shows, museums & local competitions

    These are just a few general ideas of what you could explore. I recommend getting familiar with the behavior of the city you are in. Is it a quiet town or a city that never sleeps? Finding where a town is in terms of characteristics will help you find your space and maybe even create one of your own.

    Creating a Space for Memories

    Whether you’re in a dorm or apartment, decorate your room or space until you can’t anymore. Hang pictures and leave space for new memories you will make. If there’s a Pinterest post you have always loved…recreate it! Make your space yours. If you have symbols of home, showcase them in your room and allow it to be a place of comfort when feelings of homesickness arise.

    Bringing Home Traditions

    Finally, it is okay to take home with you. One of the best experiences about living away from home is meeting peers who have their own traditions and coming together to explore those traditions. Just because a city does not partake in activities you experienced back home does not mean they are unwilling. It is important to celebrate where you come from and be introduced to others from different backgrounds. Create an event on campus related to something you did in your hometown or create new traditions with your friends. As you move through your college career, remember that home can be wherever you want it to be if you make it yours.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!