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A New Conference Celebrating Libraries and the Power of Playful Learning

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Next month, FableVision and American University Game Lab are taking our love of games to a new level by co-hosting the Libraries, Games and Play Conference in Washington, DC. Join us and our sister companies FableVision Learning and The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity in exploring innovative uses of educational technology and showcasing the cutting-edge edtech that will help teachers keep students excited about learning.  As longtime supporters of using games in educational spaces, FableVision is proud to co-host this event and share best practices in integrating technology into learning spaces, such as libraries, where technology is often overlooked.

The Idea

Conference organizer J Collins says it perfectly when they talk about how libraries hold communities together. “We need to celebrate the successes that they have had with games and we need to have a serious conversation about how we can better support and recognize their work.”

To make this conference as accessible as possible and give equal opportunity to all attendees, conference admission is free and a travel stipend was offered for those who might not have the funds to travel. However, because not all libraries can spare their hardest workers for a full weekend, the conference will be interactive and shareable. Collins also shared their personal experiences with librarians, and how important librarians are to the communities they serve. "I knew that I wanted to organize this conference after hearing a story from my friend about her work as a public librarian,” Collins said. “She teaches children and adults with games every week. She grew up playing games. And yet she's never made it out to a games conference. Why? For her to leave her post at the library means that ESL classes don't happen, afterschool youth won't find their special friend there, the AC unit might break and spray water onto the books again, and on and on.”


Highlighted Events

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Don’t miss out on the showcase, which will include The Reynolds Center and FableVision Learning’s Fab@School Maker Studio educational technology aimed at fostering more engineering and design skills in the classroom. It helps create practical and affordable makerspaces, using material like cardstock, paper, and inexpensive digital fabricators.

This conference will  bring together leaders and innovators with the teachers and librarians who can use their technology in educational spaces.

Another exciting, must-see event offered at the conference is a closing keynote speech from FableVision and The Reynolds Center co-founder and CEO Paul Reynolds! Paul will speak about libraries’ growing importance in a networked, digital age, as well as the role of creativity in the future of the planet, creative influences from his childhood, and the mission of educators to make young innovators—all topics near and dear to the heart of FableVision.


Conference Details

What: Libraries, Games, and Play Conference
When: April 6, 2019
Where: American University in Washington, DC
Cost: Free!

The deadline for both registration and travel stipend applications is March 15. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to attend this one-of-a-kind conference and learn more about the importance of libraries, game-based learning, and the integration of the two.

Click here to apply for a travel stipend.
Click here to register.

We hope to see you there!

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March FableFriday: Monica Chen, Marketing Coordinator

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A dedicated and quick-witted writer, Monica Chen’s skills in marketing are undeniable. The face behind much of FableVision’s social media content and client communications, Monica is constantly changing and adapting to the demands of her role. Clients are always in good hands with Monica—a professional, yet personal, experience is guaranteed when Monica is leading the charge.

Monica juggles countless tasks throughout her days as FableVision’s Marketing Coordinator, and balances her responsibilities skillfully. A master manager of schedules, spreadsheets, and creative communications projects big and small, there is no job that Monica cannot handle.

“A lot of my focus as a writer has been on the human experience,” Monica says. “I definitely think that translates into how I approach writing marketing content for the studio because I constantly try to consider how the people we design and develop media for, not just our clients but also the audiences who will be using the product, will read the content and internalize the messaging.”

Monica is a 2018 graduate of Ithaca College with a passion for writing, music, and Chipotle. An admirer of art in all forms and a passionate storyteller, Monica blends seamlessly into FableVision’s mission of making “stories that matter, stories that move.”

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Tell us about your FableJourney! How did you hear about FableVision and what brought you here?
I heard about FableVision when I was introduced to Sarah Ditkoff, FableVision’s Communications Director, by an Ithaca College (IC) alum. After emailing back and forth with Sarah a couple of times, I came in for an informational interview at the studio. During that meeting, I told Sarah a bit about my life, what I studied at IC, my previous marketing experiences, and where I was in the job search process. She gave me some more information on FableVision Studios, as well as advice for me as someone looking to enter the marketing field fresh out of college. I remember leaving that meeting and texting my best friend in the elevator before I even left the building: “This place is everything I’ve ever wanted in a job. I want to work here so bad.” At the time, there were no open positions, but a few months later Sarah emailed me about the open Marketing Coordinator position, and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to apply.

How do you approach marketing and outreach for FableVision? From your vantage point, what’s unique about our place in the industry?
When I first started working here at FableVision, I really appreciated and continue to appreciate the time and care we put into how we talk to our audiences and how we talk about our projects. When we speak with clients and prospective clients, we’re not just marketing products, but really we’re marketing the talent and skills in the studio. We’re marketing the experience of working with us and the impact that the product—whether it be a game, an app, a website, an animation, or something else—can have on the people our client wants to reach. In our outreach, we focus on the learning outcomes and the positive messages of our projects to provide helpful resources and supplementary tools to help learning spaces engage students. And because of where we are in the edtech industry, we can focus on the larger goal of fostering creativity and lifelong learning in everything we write and post.

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You recently graduated from Ithaca College. Tell us a little bit about your education there!
I majored in writing and minored in integrated marketing communications and the Honors Program. Although I chose not to pursue a specific concentration within the writing major, a large part of my focus was on fiction and poetry. I had some incredible mentors in the Writing Department and, with their support, I was able to complete a lot of projects I am quite proud of, including a number of short stories, a collection of poetry, and a short novel. In my minor courses, I studied a wide range of marketing-related topics, including strategic communication, public relations, advertising, copywriting and art direction, graphic design, and generalized marketing strategy.

Outside of my courses, I also had the opportunity to participate in many extracurricular activities, student organizations, research projects, and community service activities. One of my favorite projects was the Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival, which I helped plan during the last three years of my undergraduate career. As part of the festival planning process, I took the film festival class. In the course, we watched and discussed Asian American films, studied the historical and social context behind Asian American representation in media, helped organize and plan festival activities, and corresponded with festival participants, filmmakers, and sponsors. One of my main roles on the marketing committee was designing our marketing materials. My first year with the festival, I just started learning graphic design in my minor, so I had to teach myself how to use Photoshop (with the help of a lot of YouTube tutorials) in order to create the posters and brochures we needed. The following two years, I designed the majority of the posters, brochures, flyers, and other marketing materials. It was a great learning opportunity for me and the skills I gained from creating those deliverables helped me a lot in my marketing and advertising courses, as well as in my internships and eventually my marketing career after graduating.

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As both a practicer and consumer of art, what is your favorite art museum that you’ve been to? What is one you’re dying to visit?
For practically my whole life, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was my favorite art museum because when I was growing up, my dad would often take me there on weekends and during school vacation. It will always have a special place in my heart; however, the Van Gogh Museum is definitely another top contender. I was able to visit the museum two years ago when I took a trip to Amsterdam during my semester abroad in Ireland. Vincent Van Gogh has been my favorite artist for years and seeing his life chronicled through his art was incredibly moving. I cried while watching a documentary showcase at the museum—the way he captured the beauty in the world around him despite his intense internal struggles has always had a big impact on my view of life and of my own art and writing.

One of the museums that has been at the top of my list to visit is MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless in Tokyo. Digital art is definitely something I have become more interested in as I have learned more about graphic design. Also, from what I’ve seen in pictures and videos, the museum has some really captivating and beautiful exhibits.

If you had unlimited time and resources to pick up one new skill or hobby, what would it be?
I would love to learn how to make videos, including filming and editing. As someone who has spent countless hours watching videos on YouTube, I am always in awe of the creativity of a lot people on the platform. While some of the YouTubers I watch have backgrounds in media production or film, the majority of them taught themselves filming and editing tricks over time as they continued to post content, or they got help from other YouTubers. I think video is an exciting avenue for storytelling, especially with the mix of visuals and audio. I am always impressed by those who experiment with language, music, transitions, animation, effects, and so on in their videos. Video is something I’d love to explore in both a personal and professional manner.

We’ve heard you’re really into seeing live music! If you had to pick any three bands or artists, what would be your dream concert lineup to go see?
This is an incredibly difficult question, so I’m going to start off by saying that my number one dream concert lineup would probably be 5 Seconds of Summer, Panic! at the Disco, and Queen.

I’m going to follow that statement up, however, with a list of other dream concert lineups because I’ve always been terrible at picking favorites: All Time Low, Blink-182, and 5 Seconds of Summer. All past and current members of Celtic Thunder, in any combination to create a three band or artist lineup. Little Mix, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Panic! at the Disco. All Time Low, Marianas Trench, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Mayday Parade, All Time Low, and My Chemical Romance. Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco. ONE OK ROCK, All Time Low, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Waterparks, ONE OK ROCK, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Go Radio, Mayday Parade, and State Champs. 2NE1, Epik High, and Big Bang. EXO, GOT7, and BTS.


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More About Monica:

Favorite Panic! at the Disco song:Nine in the Afternoon.”
Fiction or Nonfiction? Fiction.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Early bird or night owl? Night owl.
Book or Kindle? Book.
“Modern art,” yes or no? YES.
Favorite genre of music? Pop punk.
Best Boston sport? Hockey, of course (I grew up playing ice hockey)—go Bruins!
Chipotle order: White rice, black beans, chicken, mild and medium salsa, corn, cheese, guacamole, and lettuce. I also like to add the Chipotle and regular Tabasco sauces on top. I would eat this every day for every meal if I could.

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FableVision Founder Peter H. Reynolds Encourages Readers to "Say Something" in New Book

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In the words of FableVision founder Peter H. Reynolds, Say Something is “sequel-ish” to his 2018 tale, The Word Collector. In The Word Collector, main character Jerome found the right words to share with the world, and in Say Something, published by Scholastic, some new friends are finding the best way to speak up and speak out! If you feel in your heart something needs to be said, say it! Say something with your words, your actions, even what you wear! When you have the courage to “say something,” there’s a chance the world will listen.

Say Something is a statement, a proclamation, a call-to-action for young activists everywhere. It reinforces the important theme given to us by The Word Collector: what we say can change the world around us. For kids, it can feel like their voices don’t matter, but Say Something is here to show that they do. It is an inspirational story that brings up an important question that any young reader can ponder: “How can I make change with what I say?” Your voice has power and weight. When you speak, you are making a difference.

Here at FableVision, we tell “stories that matter, stories that move.” We believe in the power of people and storytelling, and we create positive media to help move the world to a better place. FableVision is a place where ideas grow and flourish, and we encourage each other and our clients to always “say something.” We create with our mission always in mind. Each project and idea is treated with the same care and respect, because here at FableVision, we know the importance even just one voice can have.

Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds is available February 26, 2019 through Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, and Walmart. It will be available as a hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle ebook. You can also find it at a library near you! In the meantime, check out the trailer we created in advance of Say Something’s release, available to view on YouTube.


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Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of dozens of books, including The Dot, Ish, and Sky Color. His books have been translated into over 25 languages around the globe and are celebrated worldwide. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother, Paul, and Gary Goldberger. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family.

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FableVision Celebrates Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary

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To commemorate their 50th anniversary, Sesame Street is taking to the streets of the United States to meet kids in their own neighborhoods. From February until December, the beloved muppets will leave Sesame Street to travel cross-country and interact with their fans young and old, symbolizing the spirit of Sesame Street: that it’s for everyone, everywhere. Sesame Workshop will also publish a study on the state of children and their families in an effort to provide insight into how they can continue to support them.

Here at FableVision, we’re celebrating by looking back on our collaborations with Sesame Workshop. From online interactives to live action videos, the media we created further Sesame Workshop’s mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder, and we’re proud of the creativity and teamwork that was involved.


The O Show

Modeled after The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O Show is an animated short FableVision created for Sesame Workshop to help preschoolers build letter recognition skills. The host of the segment, our friend “O,” interviews her orangutan buddy, Otto, about about his breakfast filled with “o” foods, and an octopus pal, Ophelia, about her food-flinging juggling. The segment, aimed to help preschoolers learn a letter of the alphabet, includes elements of humor that parents can appreciate as well. Voiced by Oprah Winfrey herself, The O Show is a delight for parents and kids alike.


The Silliest Counting Show

Follow the adorable antics of four-year-old Victoria and one-year-old Otis as they count six blocks and a fox in Sesame Studios’ The Silliest Counting Show. With story, script, and graphics created by FableVision, and original music and live-action footage produced by Big Breakfast, The Silliest Counting Show was destined to be a lighthearted, fun-filled success.

As Victoria plops each of the six plush squares in front of Otis and counts aloud, Otis eagerly pulls each one into his lap and giggles as he tosses them back to the carpeted floor. The live-action video is fun and silly while promoting early counting skills, patience, and problem solving. Victoria knows Otis is little and just wants to play! Ever-patient Victoria keeps counting and laughs along with her friend, collecting the blocks off the floor as she goes. After she is done counting to six, Victoria hands Otis a plush fox and both giggle. The quirky video is available for enjoyment on the Sesame Studios YouTube channel.


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Skunk: Beach

I bet you didn’t know a zebra, penguin, and skunk could teach a kid about engineering! In Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach, Penguin, Skunk, and Zebra put their minds together to solve a common beach day problem. Penguin wants to build a sandcastle, but all castle-building efforts are thwarted by the ocean waves. After Skunk comes along with a shovel and helps Penguin rebuild, another wave comes crashing through and knocks down the new sandcastle. As Penguin and Skunk sit sadly on the shore, Zebra wanders over and builds a wall out of sand. The three create a beautiful sandcastle behind the wall, and it is finally safe from the waves. The cute and inspiring short video emphasizes the importance of teamwork, perseverance, and problem solving. FableVision team members brought together the script, story, animated title card, and motion graphics, and the studio enlisted the help of Duncan Studio to create the colorful, soft animation of the beach scene.


Spinner Engines

Spin the wheel to play HTML5 interactive games “Grover’s Playground Workout” and “A Little Help From My Furry Friends” on Sesame Street in Communities, a free online resource for parents that provides information on how to best support children 0-5 and provides activities for those children to help them learn and grow. In the game “Grover’s Playground Workout,” FableVision artists animated Sesame Street monsters and arranged them on a spinner, so kids can either click the spinner to select a monster at random or choose a monster they like best. Once a monster is chosen, that monster displays three different physical moves that kids can follow to practice healthy habits!

“A Little Help from My Furry Friends” utilizes the same spinner model, but the spinner is designed to land on a topic related to stress or coping: notice, imagine, count, move, hug, and listen. When the spinner lands on a topic, a video pops up on a separate screen and features a monster discussing the topic. With the help of a Sesame Street friend, feelings don’t have to be scary!


Check out Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary campaign #Sesame50 here and take a peek at our full portfolio to see the other amazing projects our team has created.

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February FableFriday: Nathan Wentworth, Junior Developer

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Junior Developer Nathan Wentworth knew from a young age that he had a deeper interest in games than simply playing them. From playing educational interactives on his dad’s computer and platformers on his PlayStation as a child to teaching himself code in college and designing digital media with his friends outside of classes, Nathan found a way to incorporate his interests into his personal and professional lives.

“I've been playing games since I was six—Zoombinis was one of my favorites when I was a kid, yet another reason I was drawn to FableVision—and I’ve wanted to make them since elementary school,” says Nathan. “So when the time came, I decided to go to college for Game Design. I ended up taking classes in everything from programming to 3D art to writing, which allowed me to really find my love of programming.”

Nathan developed his passion over time, transforming it first from a childhood pastime to his academic focus, and then to a rewarding career path, which brought him to FableVision! In his role as Junior Developer, Nathan serves as the developer on various studio projects, including games and websites. He works with artists, animators, writers, and producers to ensure a polished final product. Let’s jump in and find out more about how Nathan approaches game design, the differences between working full-time and freelancing at FableVision, and his fashion do’s and don’ts!

First off, welcome to FableVision! Tell us about your journey here.
I initially heard about FableVision from my friend Ethan Thibault, a former marketing intern here. He often spoke about how much he loved FableVision. So when one of my professors sent me a job listing for a freelance developer position at FableVision, I knew I had to apply. After a few interviews, I was put on a small two-week project, and I've been on projects ever since! After freelancing for a year and working on three pretty different projects, I was hired full-time as a junior developer.

You just graduated from Fitchburg State. Congrats! What did you study in school?
My college experience was a little unconventional! I originally planned to major in computer science and photography, but when I went on Fitchburg State's website, I saw an article about their new Game Design major, which I instantly knew I wanted to do. What I didn't entirely realize was how new this major was. My first day of class was the first day of the major even existing, so I saw it go through a lot of changes in those four years. The first year or so, I was heavily into 3D art, and I sort of fell into programming by circumstance. I spent a lot of time outside of classes working on my game projects, and I ended up teaching myself a lot about Unity and programming in my free time. This meant that for every group project I just so happened to know the most about programming, meaning I became the dedicated programmer. I certainly didn't mind this by the end, and I did everything I could to help encourage others in my major to code as well.

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What is your favorite game, and how has it influenced your own approach to game design?
This is a very hard thing to choose! My favorite game would probably be Fez by Polytron. Fez embodies a lot of what I love about video games: it's a nice place to be in, full of mystery and puzzles, and has a wonderful, all-encompassing aesthetic. While I haven't made very many things like it, it's helped drive me to always make things with vibrant color palettes, no violence, and tight interactions. I'm often inspired by the Arcane Kids mantra of "the purpose of gameplay is to hide secrets," which Fez embodies. Other hugely influential games for me have been Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy, and NieR.

You’ve had experience working with FableVision in the past—how does working in the studio compare to freelancing?
I've jokingly described my time freelancing for FableVision as "the world's longest programming test," since once I started freelancing here, I never stopped! Once one project ended, I was immediately given another, so it was essentially a full-time job to begin with. Working in the studio as a staff member is wonderful, though. Getting to work with so many incredible people every day is a joy. It's rare that someone gets to say that they love going into work every day, but I sure do. Getting to participate in events and feel more connected to the culture is wonderful too. While working as a freelancer, I worked from home every day, which was nice since there was no commute, but I missed interacting with people.

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We heard you’re into fashion! Can you describe your style?
My personal style is ever-changing. These days, however, I’d say it lands closest to streetwear, though I certainly do enjoy a menswear outfit from time to time. A lot of my fashion interests are aspirational, simply due to how expensive a lot of the things I want are (I don’t see myself getting an Acronym jacket any time soon). Yet, part of this is also due to me caring a lot more about sustainability in fashion these days. I try to care about where/how things are made, who’s making them, etc. This can be tough as a lot of companies don’t make it transparent, but it’s still something I focus on. I also really want to get into making my own stuff, starting with a new bag (inspired by Jon Kyle’s Monopack). I am also forever inspired by my friend and style-icon John Hill, who consistently wears the best outfits I’ve ever seen.

You’re also into photography. What are your favorite types of scenes to capture, and what inspires you?
I was interested in photography when I was pretty young, but I started getting really into it in high school. I bought my own camera (first a compact Olympus DSLR, then a Canon T2i, and now a Fujifilm X100F) and would bring it with me everywhere, always trying to capture the little details that catch my eye. I love the intersection between creativity and documentary. I love shooting events and people (more candid than portraiture), and I'm also drawn to anything with strong lines, heavy contrast, and "geometry." I also enjoy the process of editing photos. I rarely do any heavy photo manipulation, but tweaking colors/levels/etc. to get the photo to look just right is very satisfying.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I absolutely love experimental/underground electronic dance music and nightcore! Internet labels like PC Music and SoundCloud DJs like Non Stop Pop have massively influenced my music taste and who I am as a person. They got me to stop caring about how others perceive my music taste, and they helped me to rid myself of the idea of “guilty pleasures.” Also, while some people need quiet or ambient music to work, I need high-energy. So whenever I have a lot of tasks  to get done, I just put on a favorite mix and immerse myself in my work. I go to live shows and DJ sets as much as I can. I’ve even traveled to New York City to see Virtual Self and JACK NY, which was my favorite show I’ve ever been to. The energy of the music and crowd is one of my favorite things, and I can’t wait for whatever the next show is.


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More about Nathan:

Favorite television show: Ping Pong: The Animation
Worst fashion choice you ever made: American Apparel v-necks
Go-to karaoke song: “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
Favorite cartoon character: Yuuko from Nichijou
Spring or Fall: Spring
Cats or dogs: Cats
Something you couldn’t go a day without: Twitter
Staple item for your closet: Black skinny jeans

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