GameDesk is a nonprofit research and outreach organization that seeks to reshape models for learning through game-play and game development with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The organization develops project-based learning with a strong focus on purpose, ownership, and personal value. GameDesk (originally developed out of research and support at USC) has now been in development, practice, and evaluation for over four years in various schools in the LA area.

By using games and media technologies in a project-based environment, students develop an appreciation for STEM learning, team-building, and a belief in themselves that carries over into all aspects of their lives. The GameDesk Institute is an association of teachers, scholars, game-designers, school administrators, researchers, educational institutions, writers, engineers, artists, and career specialists who work to develop and implement GameDesk methodology and materials.

GameDesk projects include:

  • Dojo: Helps players learn to control their emotional reactions
  • Aero: Allows the player to control an albatross in flight and learn, through play, how various aerodynamic principles are applied to achieve flight and movement in flight
  • Therobt: Illustrates thermal energy and heat transfer through gameplay
  • Math Maker: Provides activities that require students to grapple with an apply mathematical standards in both game design, game logic, and game programming activities
  • Motionplay: Provides students the opportunity to develop an experiential knowledge that involves senses, perceptions, and mind-body actions and reactions
  • Bloom: Reveals the key components required within the photosynthesis process, and how these requirements react with each other on a molecular level.

The GameDesk Institute has also developed PlayMaker School, which it launched in September 2012 with funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with New Roads Schools.



Lucien Vattel
Executive Director

West LA

Area Served: 
Southern CA

# of Employees:

Nonprofit (Donations)

Guidestar Report