By Hannah Montgomery, Graduate Writer

Photograph by Heidi Hannoush, Undergraduate Photographer

Literature, creative writing, internships, and video games? Elliot Melfi has a lot on his plate! Elliot, a senior in ECL, works as the Game Studies Specialist Intern for the Digital Literacy as part of the new Greenlaw Gameroom Initiative. For Elliot, “Working on the Greenlaw Gameroom has been a bit of a dream come true.”

Books have always held a special place in Elliot’s heart. As a child, books were always there for him: “I looked to literature to teach me the things that I didn’t know how to learn on my own, and somehow I ended up falling in love.” As he explains, “Books were my closest friends when I was little, and they got me through some of the lowest points in my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without literature.” For Elliot, ECL with a minor in Creative Writing is allowing him to pay it forward, “I want to write something that makes people feel a little less alone and a little more like there’s a place for them in the world.”

Working on the Greenlaw Gameroom allows Elliot to pursue another passion, video games. Elliot says, “I think a lot of little kids wish that they could play video games in class” although this wish is “only to avoid studying or paying attention.” Through the Gameroom Initiative, Elliot has learned “all about how the two aren’t mutually exclusive; video games are an incredibly engaging, exciting, and interactive medium, which makes them even easier to focus on than most other study materials.” 

Thanks to the Center for Faculty Excellence Lenovo Instructional  grant, the GamingInitiative under the direction of Dr. Courtney Rivard has transformed Greenlaw 316 in the Greenlaw Gameroom a space where instructors can incorporate video games and tabletop games into their lessons to teach “on and through video games.” Elliot explains, “There’s been a stigma against video games in the academic community for a very long time, but the Greenlaw Gameroom hopes to eliminate some of that stigma by encouraging professors to view them as valuable tools for teaching and learning.” 

As with all new projects, the Greenlaw Gameroom is a lot of work, and Elliot has been at the heart of it. Joking that “What surprised me early on was how I ended up assembling a lot more furniture than expected,” in order to set up the room, “luckily I already had that skill under my belt,” Elliot works tirelessly with Dr. Rivard and David Hall, a Ph.D. student in ECL, to make the Gameroom “an interactive, innovative space for teaching and learning.” Explaining his many important duties, Elliot says, “A lot of my duties are research oriented. If a professor wants to somehow use video games to teach their students about a certain subject, it’s my job to do research on what games would be the best fit.” Recently, “a professor wanted to give their students the opportunity to see ancient Greece in its full glory as a living, thriving culture, and we at the DLC decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to test out Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’s new Discovery Tour feature.”

Working on the Greenlaw Gameroom, Elliot works closely with Dr. Rivard and David Hall. Elliot jokes that he still sometimes feels like he should call them Dr. Rivard and Mr. Hall, even with everyone in the DLC lab being on a first name basis, but feels very encouraged because “people I think of as authority figures treat me like a valuable part of the team with something to say.” Elliot says that this communication is the most valuable skill he’s taking from the Greenlaw Gameroom, “In order to set up the Greenlaw Gameroom we’ve all had to update each other constantly on who is doing what, how long it will take for things to get done, and what still remains to be done.” Elliot plans to take these experiences with him “as I make the transition from internships to careers. In addition to all the new references and qualifications I can put on my resume, I’ve also gained valuable experience on how to navigate a workplace, communicate with coworkers, and budget my time between projects.”

For other ECL majors looking for phenomenal internship opportunities, Elliot advises casting a wide net: “Check your heelmail, your department head will constantly be sending out emails about new and exciting internship opportunities… Don’t be afraid to petition your friends in the department, maybe they heard about an internship that wasn’t quite right for them but you would love.” You never know what you’ll find, what you’ll learn, or what dreams will come true!

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