About us

Named one of Fast Company’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education”, GameDesk is a transformative education nonprofit consisting of a research institute, commercial development studio, online community platform, and physical school.

Our mission is to develop the next generation model of education, revolutionizing the way we teach and learn.  The GameDesk approach is founded upon the principle that kids should be empowered to learn both cognitively and interpersonally by interacting, playing, and making. A defining principle, that all of our work shares, is that learning and fun are not mutually exclusive. Subjects are not presented as abstract problems, but authentic role-play experiences, game challenges, simulations, and design and make challenges that require acquisition of new skills and knowledge.

GameDesk embeds academic content and assessment into a variety of play-based products and curriculum.

  • immersive learning
  • games & simulation
  • digital makers
  • mobile learning
  • role-play
  • emotion based learning

GameDesk transforms the learning environment and increases academic success with a mixture of R&D, user and evidence centered design, content creation, curriculum development, professional development, and engaging popular technology.

Originally developed out of research proposed to explore linking cognitive science to to various forms of interactivity at the University of Southern California, GameDesk has created, tested, and evaluated effective game- and play-based curriculum and software throughout various pilots in schools and community centers in the Los Angeles area. The organization’s focus is to help close the achievement gap and to engage students, particularly those that are low-proficient in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. GameDesk embeds STEM content into game-centered projects and focuses on fostering students’ sense of purpose, ownership and personal relevance.

As a dedicated team of innovators, educators, game designers, engineers, inventors, administrators and students seeking a better tomorrow, the GameDesk team aims to catalyze a major shift in the way society thinks about education and inspires everyone to become part of the movement to make serious learning fun.

For more information about the GameDesk ecosystem, please check out each of the platforms below:

Major Initiatives

GameDesk Studios

GameDesk Studios creates fun, interactive learning technologies that embed academic content and assessment to promote game-based learning and increase student engagement.


Educade is a revolutionary online portal that bridges traditional teaching methods with what engages youth today--the interactivity of apps, game-based learning and hands-on making.

PlayMaker School

GameDesk designed and launched PlayMaker, a next generation school that empowers students to create meaningful relationships with knowledge through playing, making, and discovery-based learning.

GameDesk Institute

GameDesk Institute is transforming the educational landscape and advancing learning technologies through research, professional development, at-risk outreach, and playful teaching tools.


Board +

Board of Directors

Chair – Greg Franks – CEO, Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation

Skip Rizzo – Director for Medical Virtual Reality, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Bill Nye – Bill Nye the Science Guy, President, The Planetary Society

Le Trung – Director of The Third Teacher / Architect, Cannon Design

Adam Fletcher – Attorney at Law, Irell & Manella LLP

Dr. Marguerita Lightfoot  – UCSF Director of Technology and Information Exchange, Professor

Lucien Vattel – Founder/CEO, GameDesk

Board of Advisors

Jeff B. Cohen, Esq. – Entertainment Attorney, Cohen Gardner LLP

David Birchfield, Ph.D. – Director, SMALLAB

Michael Carter, Ph.D. – Serious Games Designer and Director

Joe Ching – Senior Designer, LucasArts

Kathi Littmann, Ed.D. – Charter School Advisor

John Slaughter, Ph.D. – USC Professor of Engineering and Education, Former NSF Director

Themy Sparangis – Chief Technology Officer, LAUSD

Talma Shultz – CTE Director, Los Angeles Small Schools Center