Eric Zimmerman is an award-winning designer of board games, video games, and other forms of play. He is an Arts Professor of Game Design at the NYU Game Center, a program he helped design at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
The independent studio Gamelab that Eric co-founded with Peter Lee in 2000 produced videogames like Diner Dash that were enjoyed by millions of players and helped establish today's “casual games.” Gamelab also received the MacArthur Foundation's first major game-related grant to found The Institute of Play, a nonprofit dedicated to games and learning.
Alongside Italian architect Nathalie Pozzi, Eric has designed large-scale social installations that appeared at MoMA and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. With Peter Berry, Colleen Macklin, and John Sharp (as Indie game studio Local No. 12), Eric designs board games and video games, including the award-winning Dear Reader (published by Apple) that turns public domain literature into word game puzzles.
An educator for three decades, Eric has taught game design at MIT, Parsons School of Design, University of the Arts in Berlin, and The Danish Royal Academy. He is a professor and founding faculty at the NYU Game Center, where he is known for taking design classes outside for playground game sessions. His book Rules of Play, co-authored with Katie Salen, helped establish game design as a formal discipline and has remained the standard textbook in the field since it was published in 2004. Eric gives lectures and workshops at major video game studios and universities from Japan, Israel, and Australia, to China, Finland, and Portugal.
He lives in a tiny 6-story walkup in the East Village of New York City and has been described by literacy scholar James Gee as “one of the most creative people I have ever met” and by game designer Brenda Romero as “espresso with legs.”
Photo credit: Cris Moor