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Alexandra To, “Uplifting Us: Design Opportunities in Centering Racialized Experiences in Games”

Thursday, December 9, 2021 @ 5:00 pm 6:30 pm EST

This event is virtual and will be streamed live on Zoom (mit.zoom.us/j/96579656038) and recorded.


Photo of Alexandra To

People of color have always been present in games as designers, developers, players, and critics. As Kishonna Gray further expounds, gaming is a site for “resistance, activism, and mobilization among marginalized users.” In this talk Alexandra To will describe some of the game design opportunities present in centering the experiences of people of color from the beginning through the lens of 1) a design process that focuses on the creation of joyful counterspaces, 2) game design choices that embed encountering and processing racial trauma, and 3) exploring the work that players of color are actively engaging in to create custom content that represents them where it may not exist. Through these projects we can begin to articulate an agenda for racially inclusive game design.

Alexandra To is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University jointly appointed in the Art + Design (Games) department in the College of Art, Media, and Design and the Khoury College of Computer Science. Her core research interests are in studying and designing social technologies to empower people in marginalized contexts. She uses qualitative methods to gather counterstories and participatory methods to design for the future. She additionally has extensive experience leading teams of educational game designers and has designed award-winning games. She has received multiple ACM Best Paper awards and published at CHI, UIST, CSCW, CHI Play, ToDiGRA, and DIS. Alexandra is a racial justice activist, a critical race scholar, game designer. She received her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Symbolic Systems with a minor in Asian American Studies from Stanford University.