Lien Tran to join as trainer for 2023 YSEALI Game Changers

YSEALI Game Changers 2023 logo

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has invited Lien Tran via a funded cultural engagement to participate as an international game design trainer and workshop facilitator for YSEALI Game Changers (YGC) in May 2023.   YGC brings together mid-level professionals to learn about and explore, through a 2-day game jam,… Continue reading Lien Tran to join as trainer for 2023 YSEALI Game Changers

International Women’s Day op ed on virtual reality for a just and real-world reality

Illustration by Nikki Muller, New Thinking Magazine

International Women’s Day 2023 On #InternationalWomensDay, Lien Tran published an op ed in New Thinking Magazine entitled “Leveraging Tech to Address Gender-Based Violence Impactfully” on how emerging tech, including the VR simulation “A Just Reality” project, can fill a major gap in essential skills training for law enforcement who respond to and investigate sexual assault & domestic… Continue reading International Women’s Day op ed on virtual reality for a just and real-world reality

Games for civics op ed published in New Thinking

Illustration by Nikki Muller (New Thinking magazine)

The majority of Americans know little about civics and government; video games could prove the unorthodox solution to our miseducation. This is the topic of Professor Lien Tran’s second op ed as a Public Voices fellow with The OpEd Project.    On February 4, 2023, New Thinking magazine published her op ed entitled “The Game of Life: Leveraging Tech for Civics Education“.… Continue reading Games for civics op ed published in New Thinking

Emerging technology’s role for telling critical Asian American history

Photo by Red Morley Hewitt

Professor Lien Tran is part of DePaul University’s 2022-23 The OpEd Project’s Public Voices fellowship. Professor Tran’s first op ed entitled “Lunar New Year Offers a Chance to Reflect on Asian American History“, was published in VISIBLE magazine ahead of Lunar New Year on January 22, 2023. In this op ed, Tran shares examples for how… Continue reading Emerging technology’s role for telling critical Asian American history

Transformed Reality VR Workshop

Meaningful Play 2022, East Lansing, MI, USA

October 12-14, 2022

Presented by Lien Tran, Brighten Jelke, Lynn Baus, Chryselle Rego, LeAnne Wagner

In this workshop participants will learn about a set of resources and processes for creating a VR training experience and test a working project in a VR headset (Oculus Quest 2). This workshop is meant to be an informative primer for people curious about getting started in essential skills VR learning and training, specific to the use of immersive branching narrative experiences and assessment. The facilitators have been working on the creation of trauma-informed interviewing training modules for law enforcement. While the goal is to create improved training materials that address gender based violence, the team has developed a unique understanding of small team VR content creation and the process involved.

Workshop Resources

Project Consideration Worksheets

We provided some high-level worksheets to participants to help them determine whether designing and developing a similar VR training experience is a viable option for a particular context.

Presentation Slides

Our presentation slides, found here, also reference the VR training white paper by PwC from 2020. Here’s the link for those who are interested:


To learn more about our VR project “A Just Reality”, visit the project page.



If you’d like to connect with our team, please reach out to Lien Tran at lien.tran[at], Director of Matters at Play, or LeAnne Wagner at Leanne.Wagner[at], Director of PUSH Studio.

Teaching the Next Generation of G4C Developers

Teaching the Next Generation of Games for Change Developers Lien Tran participated in the 2022 Games for Change festival as a panelist speaking about how she has been approaching teaching the next generation of games for change developers as a college professor. Below are a few of the slides shared during her segment. Previous Next… Continue reading Teaching the Next Generation of G4C Developers

Dwell wins GLS Creativity and Design Award

Lien Tran receives Creativity and Design award at the 2022 Games+Learning+Society conference in Irvine, CA.

Judges for the 2022 Games+Learning+Society conference’s game showcase awarded Dwell the Creativity and Design award in June 2022 in Irvine, CA.  The games showcase selections were double-blind peer-reviewed. 30+ games were selected for showcase, and a panel of expert judges reviewed the games for award consideration. There were a total of four awards, 1 of… Continue reading Dwell wins GLS Creativity and Design Award

Matters at Play collaborated with several subject matter stakeholders on the creation of Poor Not Guilty: Fines and Fees Challenge, including the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC). The challenge is now available on the NHLC’s website along with a suggested Street Law lesson plan.

Did You Know fact provided within one of the 3 Fines and Fees Challenge scenarios referencing NHLC’s #IAskForHelpBecause campaign

The Fines & Fees Challenge is an interactive educational tool based on a series of real-life experiences that highlight how fines and fees for petty offenses create impossible situations for those experiencing poverty and/or homelessness. Each scenario asks the player to make a series of choices in response to an inciting circumstance with the goal of escaping the cycle that financial punishment systems trap them in. To varying degrees throughout the U.S., cities and states impose heavy fines for minor offenses at every stage of the criminal justice system. Millions of Americans get trapped in a cycle of punishment simply because they can’t afford to pay these fines and fees. Without any means of escape from a system designed to punish poverty, many Americans lose their jobs, homes, and even their children. Almost every state has laws that punish and fine people experiencing homelessness for engaging in necessary activities, such as sleeping or sitting in public. These types of policies criminalize homelessness and fail to address its root causes, like the lack of access to affordable and adequate housing.

Partnering organizations on the Poor Not Guilty: Fines & Fees Challenge

About the NHLC

The National Homelessness Law Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and seeks to serve as the legal arm of the national movement to end and prevent homelessness. We believe that the human rights to adequate housing, healthcare, food, and education lie at the heart of human dignity and we envision a world where no one has to go without the basics of human survival. 

For more on the NHLC, please visit

Matters at Play’s Lien Tran will be joining a seasoned panel of international retired and active members of law enforcement to discuss how we need to rethink training when it comes to gender-based violence (GBV) at the 2022 Gender Justice and Human Rights Symposium at the University of Miami from April 21-22, 2022. Lien joins the panel to share a social innovation project that a team from DePaul has been researching and developing since the latter part of 2021.

DePaul University’s Matters at Play lab and PUSH Studio have joined together to explore how technology and social innovation could enhance law enforcement response to GBV. Through design research including stakeholder interviews, our team has identified the opportunity to improve interview techniques for law enforcement so that through simulated interviewing of a victim they learn best practices that are trauma-informed and victim-centered.

Lien will share her perspective, as a designer of interactive and transformational experiences, for how timely it is to innovate and take advantage of technological advances to enhance the education of law enforcement for the essential skills like communicating with and interviewing sexual assault victims, and investigating serious crimes like GBV.

Lien will be joined by team member Brighten Jelke in providing demonstrations of the prototype to interested symposium attendees during the Friday afternoon break out sessions.

The project builds upon Lien’s previous course collaboration with University of Miami’s School of Law’s Human Right’s Clinic (UMHRC) on its COURAGE in Policing Project employing human-centered design methods to research and propose possible solutions for reducing bias in policing of GBV.

About the Panel

Title: Rethinking Training for Law Enforcement

ModeratorBianca Joseph, International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Region 5 Coordinator Senior Police Officer, Member of the IAWP Board of Directors


Deborah Friedl, IAWP President
David Thomas, Program Manager, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Mirko Fernandez, Project Coordinator, UN Women Consultant & Jane Townsley, Senior Police Advisor, UN Women Consultant
Novelette Grant, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Retired), Jamaica Constabulary Force/UN Women Consultant, Spotlight Initiative
Lien Tran, Assistant Professor, DePaul University School of Design

On March 22, 2022, at the 2022 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA, Professor Lien Tran joined an esteem group of educators to share new ways to look at games for change and learning. This Educators Summit session called “Teaching Games with Games 7: Changing the Game” was particularly useful for seasoned and new game educators alike, as the issues covered are important, yet not always easy to address within game courses and programs.

Professor Tran shared 3 case studies – Toma el Paso, Dwell TM, and Fines & Fees Challenge – for how games that she designed or co-designed have been discovered and used in ulterior contexts than originally intended over the years. She also shared insights into how designers should account for possible untapped audiences and the educators motivated enough to search, find, play, and learn games that bring awareness to real-world complex social systems. Designers should consider what the teachable moments are for their intended audience; these same teachable moments may be particularly useful for others to get a glimpse into these unfamiliar and surprising systems.



  • John Sharp  (Professor of Games & Learning, Parsons The New School for Design)
  • Colleen Macklin  (Associate Professor of Media Design, Parsons School of Design at The New School)


  • Kishonna Gray  (Associate Professor, University of Kentucky)
  • Dr. Edmond Y. Chang  (Assistant Professor of English, Ohio University)
  • Shawn Pierre  (Visiting Assistant Arts Professor, Independent)
  • Lien Tran  (Assistant Professor, School of Design, College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University)
  • TreaAndrea Russworm  (Associate Professor of English & Associate Dean, UMass Amherst)