Let's Talk About Playdates

A crowd waits in the event lobby space of the CID.
Image from recent Sound Horizons Playdate.

It’s Friday morning in the lobby of the CID. Some people lull about, grabbing a cup of coffee or helping themselves to a donut, others cheerily chat, already wide awake. Newcomers hesitate when they come by: is it better to sit on the couches or in the back with the tables? A colorful presentation is projected on the huge screen above the main stage area with a title that sounds, of course, absolutely fascinating. Residents of the hall walk by, going to classes or finding a seat. Set up at the front of the stage is a spherical contraption with many different lenses pointing in all different directions: ICAT’s famous 360 camera. A microphone is tested and people find their seats. A Playdate is about to start.

Playdates are the lifeblood of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). They are a place every week where we come together to showcase the various previously funded projects. As a research institution within Virginia Tech, ICAT’s core function is funding interdisciplinary research projects that push the boundaries of arts and technology. Some of the most notable playdates recently have been Dear Younger Me, Playing Covid Proteins, and Embodied Art.  

In this blog post series, we will be taking a more in-depth look at Playdates. The primary purpose is to bring attention to Playdates as a resource for students and faculty to stay engaged with the current research community at the intersection of technology and the arts.

Secondarily, it’s to solve the “Well, what even is a Playdate, anyway?” question that many ICAT employees and associates face. Whenever the topic of Playdates comes up with colleagues or friends,  this follow-up question is almost inevitable. The issue is that the answer is less straightforward than it may seem on the surface. We aim for this series to be a place where everyone can point to and say, “Yes! This encapsulates everything that a Playdate is to ICAT.”

However, before we continue, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Taylor Lane and I’m currently working toward my master's in Communication. I am the Marketing and Communication Graduate Assistant for ICAT. As this is my first semester working for ICAT, I believe I am uniquely qualified to offer an introduction to others on what a playdate is as I use this series to take a deep dive look for myself.

Here’s an idea of the kinds of posts that we are going to talk about in this series:

What is a playdate?

How are playdates useful to [insert your major/department here]?

Why do we care so much about playdates?

If you would like to keep up to date with future playdates to find the one that speaks to you, Subscribe to our email list. You will receive a weekly email letting you know about all the interesting playdates that will be in the CID every Friday morning. Continually, stay up to date with all the major points of interest in ICAT by keeping up with our blogs!