As millions of students eagerly await word on their college applications, those hoping for acceptance to the University of Pennsylvania now have an extra reason for excitement. Penn (my alma mater) has declared the 2011-2012 school year to be the Year of Games: Body and Mind. As part of the Penn Reading Project, all incoming freshmen will be sent a copy of Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken, and invited to participate, along with faculty leaders, in discussion groups as part of new student orientation in the fall. The Provost’s office is sponsoring a grant program to provide opportunities for both faculty and students to create, participate in, and learn about games.

Year of Games programs will include lectures and symposia with celebrated scholars, conferences, site visits, etc., in an on-going exploration of the role games play in a wide variety of academic disciplines. Game playing connects the physical and the mental, and so mind and body will be central to the year’s conception of games.