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 describes 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.
The following is a transcript of the video’s content, with human corrections. For any errors the human missed, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Hendershot 00:48
Um, thank you all for coming on the last day of classes in our last colloquium. I’m really excited today to have Alexandra To. She’s an assistant professor at Northeastern, jointly appointed in the art and design or games department in the College of Art, Media and Design and the Khoury College of Computer Science. Her core research interests are in setting and designing social technologies to empower people in marginalized contexts. And she uses qualitative methods to gather counter stories, 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. And Professor To is a racial justice activist, a critical race scholar and a game designer and she received her PhD in human computer and human computer interaction, HCI, from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a BS and MS in symbolic systems, with a minor in Asian American Studies from Stanford University. So welcome to Professor To. Take it away.
Alexandra To 01:50
Awesome. Thank you so much for that warm welcome. Does everyone see my slides okay? Fantastic. Yeah. Um, so yeah, as Heather said, right, I work in the area of racial justice games, and HCI. Very excited to be here with all of you today to talk about some of my ongoing work. And this idea of center, centering people of color in the design of games, and what that looks like, and what opportunities are available there. So yeah, you know, just just very close by and Northeastern, and Boston. Sorry, I couldn’t come in person today. But hopefully, we’ll be able to connect in person sometime soon in the future. Yeah, so I always like to start out talks giving a little bit more context about about who I am. I think that that’s always useful as like a kind of a, you know, relations to like feminist standpoint, theory, right. Like, I think in order to understand the work I’m doing and the context, I do it from, like, you need that information. And yeah, and this also is a bit of a new style of talk for me, I usually only present on like, very completed and finish and like, not thinking about it any more work. But this is an opportunity for me to try something a little new, I wanted to talk to you all about my ongoing research. So it’s imperfect, it’s in progress. But I was hoping that it would give us some good food for thought for discussion afterwards. Yeah, so as already stated, right, I’m an assistant professor at Northeastern, I’m in art and design in the games group and the College of Computer Science. And I work in this intersection of HCI games and critical race theory or racial justice. And the venues that I publish tend to be in intersections of those spaces. So ACM venues like CHI, CHI Play, DIS, FDG, games, journals, and conferences like DIGRA, and meaningful play. And when I do do the work that I do, I’m trying to approach it from this lens of empowerment. So this lens of empowerment, I, when I say that, I mean, there’s sort of two very specific tactics that I try to use in my work. The first being visibility, there’s a lot of different kinds of visibility. But for the purpose of the projects I’m talking about today, I mean, increasing the visibility of people of color as already being present in games as being powerful, and a very diverse group of people who have different needs and desires. And the second second tactic I try to use in my work is this idea of self-determination, which is trying to think about how do we take power and distribute it. So people who are the most vulnerable have agency and impact on the design, deployment and use of technologies, which does include things like games. And also, as Heather stated, for my bio, I tend to use two major categories of methods in my work, I use qualitative research methods. So for me that looks like documenting stories, trying to move people from the margins to the center, doing storytelling work that challenges dominant narratives through the telling of counter stories. And then I also do design research. So when I say I design, I don’t design things that are meant to be solutions, like the final sort of end solution for any problem that I’m studying. They’re more meant to be artifacts that help highlight assumptions or exaggerate underlying dynamics that maybe aren’t quite as visible. I do participatory design research, which involves bringing many different kinds of people to the table in design processes to think about designing better, or more joyful or more empowered futures. Yeah. So yeah, I and again, right, I do a lot of this through the lens of games, because I love games. So the the games on the screen are games that are like, particularly memorable to me. They’re all digital games, but I’m also a big fan of tabletop games and board games. The ones on the left are like the memorable games of my childhood that like first engaged me in this idea of games, and the ones on the right are like the ones that I’ve approached more in adulthood and have enjoyed played recently playing recently, things like that.
But unfortunately, right, games do not always love me back. This quotation at the top is from Tanya DePass, who’s the founder of I Need Diverse Games from this documentary she did about her work recently. And for me, right, and I’m thinking about working in this field and US approaching it from a lens of social justice and specifically racial justice, right, I always think it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a middle ground between finding something problematic and trying to cut it out of your life or cut it out of your heart, or loving something so much that you can never be critiqued right critiquing the media that we consume, and that we enjoy is, for me a really important part of that process and a really joyful part of that process. So I wanted to share this like brief anecdote about my favorite game. Dragon Age Origins is my actual favorite game of all time, I think it came out sometime around 2008, or 2009. It’s very much the game that made me realize that gaming was an important part of who I am my identity, like things I wanted to pursue in life. But I also will never forget this kind of like negative, unpleasant experience I had the first time I played it. So this is an image of the character creation system, Dragon Age Origins is a roleplay fantasy role playing game, and has one of those like, you know, make your own character systems that has all of this level of detail, right, there’s like, you can see on here just for skin, there’s like skin tone and complexion, your eye color, and your if you’ve got tattoos or things like that, the game has a bunch of different hair colors and hair textures. So I think like a lot of people I spent well over an hour really trying hard to make this character that looks like me, that was what I wanted at the time just to play someone who looks like me. And I was really, really happy with what I ended up with in the end, and like, finally started playing the game. But then early in the game on the human human noble path, which is like one of six paths you can choose, you get to meet your parents. So these are pictures of the in-game parents that you need. And they’re both very clearly very visibly white, which isn’t, you know, necessarily going to immediately break that immersion, right, they don’t refer to why you might look different than your parents, like there could be a number of totally reasonable explanations for that. So it wasn’t really that experienced that was that jarring. It was like a little bit of a hint of what was to come for me. But then later in the sort of introduction story, you’re speaking to the person, the character who’s your mother, and there’s this stranger there who’s like a friend of hers. And she brings up this like incident in the household that happened like earlier that day or earlier that week, and she like reprimands you in school do and for me, that completely took me out of the game. Because in my family with my different cultural backgrounds and histories, right, like being scolded in by your parents in front of someone who’s outside the family is just something completely inconceivable, that would never happen. And that was that moment for me of like realizing like, oh, this game system gave me the ability to make someone who physically looks a bit like me. But ultimately, this game is not representative of who I am as a person. There’s like really serious cultural things happening, that like, I think we’re designed to be open to like many different kinds of people, but really was very representative of a very white experience that like did not resonate with me at all. And it is worth noting that since then, BioWare the company that makes Dragon Age has done a couple of different things to experiment with, like how to address this. In other games in Dragon Age 2, they tried this new interesting system of using the character you mean character creation to then model the family members you meet later to look kind of like that. But in the most recent Dragon Age, they just removed your family members, you never actually see them in the game. It’s just like not they’re referenced in text, but you never actually physically see them. So they’ve skirted the problem entirely in the most recent installation of the games. As this kind of brings me to the topic of the talk today, which is thinking about like what are the opportunities that are available? When we’ve sent her the experiences of black, indigenous and people of color, what does that allow? What is enabled? What is exciting about thinking about games from that approach? And I do, I mean, from like a lot of different aspects, I think the conversation around representation can often get really oversimplified. That’s how you end up with situations like this, where it’s like, oh, we let you make a person of color. It’s like, Yeah, but you didn’t actually right? How do we think about this problem a little bit more deeply? Alright, so yeah, so today, I’m gonna, I’m going to kind of explore this idea through three different ongoing projects I have, but I want to just dip into a little brief background on race in games first. And really the the important background knowledge here is just that like this concept is not a new concept. Right? So I mentioned that in the talk abstract.
People of color have always been in games, right as game designers, and developers and players and critics. So this idea is not particularly new. But we can start thinking about how can we push that agenda harder and further and actually center those experiences in the game design at the early stages of the work. And I really like this quotation as well. But I also put in the abstract from Kishonna Gray, who I believe you all have here last year, she talks about how gaming is a really good site for inquiry for resistance and activism and mobilization amongst marginalized users. So the other other bit of background, I wanted to share in terms of how I approach this work is the lens of transformational games. So I personally use this because a lot of the work that I do when I’m designing games is designing transformational games. So you may have also heard these referred to as serious games, or educational games or games for change. But I like the the lens of transformation because it looks at a much broader kind of transformation. But essentially, it’s this idea, right, that that games are an incredibly powerful tool for allowing transformation to happen in the game and then to be taken to the out of game context, right as the ability to alter how we think, what we know, what we believe, how we act. All of these different sort of, you know, range of emotional to psychological to physical experiences are possible with this like very interactive medium. So I wanted to give you a couple examples of that if you’re not quite as familiar with transformational games, right? If we look at a an app like Duolingo that uses gamified elements, right to teach language learning, it’s something that happens in the context of that game, but then it’s taken outside of it. Buffalo is a card games a transformational card game that helps battle internal stereotypes. Never Alone is a really beautiful video game that engages players in learning the culture and folklore of Inupiat indigenous peoples. And then Rosenstrasse is a tabletop role playing game that explores the erosion of civil rights in 1930s and 40s. Berlin, through a sort of historical fiction roleplay of a real life set of protests that happened in Berlin at that time. Yet another kind of category of games I want us to be thinking about, as we’re talking about this work is this idea of like counterspace games. Counterspace games, I think can also be thought of as maybe a subset or a type of transformational game, where we’re taking a counterspace, which is a safe space for members of a marginalized group that allows for identity, expression and celebration, and designing those into games. So this is work that is defined by Erica Principe Cruz is a colleague of mine, where she wrote that, you know, counterspace games leverage these like highly interactive and powerful affordances of games, and play to cultivate psychological safety, interdependence, and collective joy in the way that a real life counterspace would work. So we’re going to kind of take all these concepts together, and then look at these three different projects. So the first project I want to talk to you about is looking at how gamers of color specifically black Sims players are already remaking and creating game content that centers those lived experiences I was talking about. So this project is in collaboration with Angela D.R. Smith, who’s at UT Austin. And this is taking a look at a community that she had the chance to participate in, is a bit involved in herself and she started to notice some really interesting trends in how that community engages in game modifications. So for those of you who aren’t familiar, The Sims is a simulation game. It is one of the best selling PC franchises and the current most recent release is The Sims four. So there have been four versions of the game over the past couple of decades. They also tend to release a lot of expansion packs with a lot of new content at regular intervals. This screenshot is from one of their more recent releases, which was, I believe, a spa day pack.
So the game plan The Sims, typically just kind of models everyday life, usually of people who are in the suburbs. This screenshot is from the first version of The Sims. And that very early version of the game, the first one that was released was celebrated as being quite socially progressive. It doesn’t have simulation of the kinds of oppressive systems that we have in our society or had in our society at the time, there isn’t racism or sexism in the game, it allowed for same sex relationships, which was really unusual at the time that the first game was released. And modding is a big part of gameplay in the sense. So the creation by game players of their own custom content, or custom traits, or other ways of changing the actual format of the game, is a big part of the gameplay. It’s like something that the publishers allow for relatively easily. So the kinds of custom content you might see would be things like different houses in the game, you can see here like this is the same as in a house like you can release different designs, clothing, skin tones, hair textures, makeup in the game. More recently, there’s a lot more like meta gameplay modding. So you can actually change some of the AI behaviors of The Sims, you can allow them to do different kinds of interactions, follow different job paths, you can give them different personality traits that again, effects like their AI and how they interact with other Sims and with the world around them. And I also want to talk a little bit about who the Sims players are, right? So this is a very popular video game franchise, the most recent version has well over 33 million players. And the majority of those players are young women. So specifically women who are aged 18 to 24. And that’s part of why I think this is such an important game or games in the genre are important to look at this when we talk about games, research and games work. That’s an audience that we tend to overlook, even though the majority are quite a large demographic of game players in the US or women over 30. We don’t tend to think of the kinds of games that they play and enjoy as being the, like mainstream games, when in fact, they actually are. So what we wanted to explore with this initial study in this like modeling behavior is why are black simmers modding the Sims, like what kinds of content do they want? What is the motivation behind those things? And then like when they’re actually modding? What is the kind of content that they’re creating and using? So like I mentioned, this is very ongoing work. I think, as of this morning, we’ve conducted I believe, seven interviews. These are one hour interviews that we’re doing over zoom. And the participants have all been recruited from a black simmers Facebook group, which has got 1000s of people in it, who are sharing game mods, they share screenshots of their gameplay, with stories attached to them. They help each other out and like post like YouTube tutorials and things like that about how to create mods yourself, or how to install mods or do things like that. So some of the questions that we ask in this interview study are you know what kind of content is essential to your gameplay, whether that’s content from the base game, or expansion packs, or mods that you either have made yourself or that you’ve downloaded from other creators? We asked them to tell us a little bit about their favorite Sim households, who are the player characters in that household? What do they do? What are their personalities? What’s important about them or enjoyable about them to you? And then for people who create mods, we asked them, like, what mods have you created? And why have you done that? And then if you if for folks who have only used mods, we asked them like, well, if you could create any mod you wanted, what would it be? And like, why would you want that in the game?
So because this is ongoing, we haven’t done formal data analysis, we’ve been doing things kind of on a rolling basis debriefing. So I did want to share a couple of early quotations and themes that are starting to emerge with this work. So the first is just looking at, like, what does representation in the context of this game look like? And what does it mean, and what’s important about that? So a couple quotations here from different participants, right, talking about one participant really wanted to focus on black women in their games as a non binary participant, but who really wanted to explore the sort of softer feminine aesthetic of black women. And they felt like that was a form of resistance against the ways that black women might be stereotypically represented in other games or other game genres. So they talked about hairstyles as being part of that as clothing being a part of that, but then also these sort of other ways that the Sims interacted again with other Sims and with the world. We had other other participants talk about, again, going deeper. Are those relationships interactions? Right? When my sim is talking to other Sims? What are they talking about? Are they talking about things that reflect the real relationships of people that I know, in my in my life and other, you know, communities that I’ve interacted with. But this isn’t something that that the participants necessarily wanted everyone to have access to. So we had this sort of note from from one of the participants about Ebonics, right? So she said that she did want Ebonics to be in the game, so, or, you know, AAVE, African American Vernacular English, but she didn’t want that to be broadly accessible. Like to The Sims in the game, or to other people who play The Sims, right? She’s mentioning like this, you know, I would love to see as represented, but I don’t necessarily want my white Sims to have access to that, that wouldn’t be appropriate. And I have a couple screenshots here again, just like what some of these mods look like. So the one in the background is a trait mod for anime lover, that a very popular sim mod creator released. So again, this changes the personality of the Sim and what they talk about and what they like, and how they interact with other Sims. Then the screenshot in the front here is different a makeup release mod. So this was this creator created different lip glosses that looked good on vaccines, and release that to the public, so anyone could download it.
Heather Hendershot 21:16
And then the second big theme I wanted to highlight today from the sort of preliminary very informal analysis we’ve done, is going deeper into what is representation actually mean? And what’s the purpose of representation. So a lot of participants were speaking about reality. And in fact, I believe every participant that we’ve interviewed so far has at some point brought up the idea of making the game more realistic. So we’re going to like interrogate that idea a little bit. Like when every, when every single person is saying that, what do you actually mean by realistic, and it looks like you’re representing aspects of culture that are not already included in the base game, right. So we had some participants talk about changing the entire neighborhood. So it was filled with other people of color, so that the interactions that their Sims had in the neighborhood were more reflective of what real life might look like. A lot of them talk about how the mods are essential to that you cannot do that with the game as it’s already built. There were a lot of other intersectional identity concerns, right? There are other aspects beyond race that participants in the study that we cared about things about sexuality, about body representation, you know, other you know, less identity relevant things like the jobs that are accessible, or what the actual neighborhoods and cities look like in the game. It’s just a way of reflecting reality, and specifically reality as a pathway to immersion, immersion or escapism is a really big part of why a lot of people play games, no matter what the genre is. But when that game doesn’t reflect reality, right? Very much in the way of the anecdote that I share, at the beginning of my own gameplay, it really pulls you out of it, it can be very jarring. So creating these mods and using these mods are a way of again, having the game actually reflect what the world around us actually looks like.
Alexandra To 23:09
So with the second project I wanted to share today, I move a little bit away from studying games and look more into making games. Specifically, the goal of this second project was to make a game that represented the experiences of students of color at predominantly white institutions or colleges. So this is done with students, Chris, Jamie Dilruba, and Devina. So to give a little bit more background in why this was the motivation behind the project, when you look at the literature on the experiences of black indigenous and students of color, at PWIs, the majority of the literature tends to focus on sort of pathologizing the student of color experience, right tends to focus on achievement gaps and attrition, and the disadvantages the students are at. And while there is a certain amount of reality in there, the sort of over representation of these sort of traumas and this sort of deficit lens of students of color, I think, is really detrimental to how we think about how we talk about how we center those students. Right, that is, it’s missing a big part of of what that experience actually is. So some of the work that does focus on sort of more joyful experiences or powerful experiences that students of color have look at things like cultural centers as this site for identity relevant work. Specifically, there’s a paper last year by Liane Hypolite that was exploring, what is it about black cultural centers that are so effective at increasing feelings of belongingness or just being a space that is like comfortable and safe for black students? And really, the main mechanism that she found that was effective was this idea of seeing other people have gone through the same things as you right? You could imagine a situation of being One of the few number of students in your classes as a freshman, but when you’re going to cultural centers, you’re able to meet students in other departments, students who are older than you, people who have gone through some of the same experiences that you have. And getting a being able to see something like a role model, or just that your experience is not isolated, is incredibly powerful. Some sort of the motivation of exploring this with a game, I wanted to create a game narrative experience that did that same thing that show that these experiences are shared by other people, real life experiences of navigating these situations that would do that sort of same thing of showing other kinds of role models. And I will add to that, that, of course, like ultimately, what is really necessary there is that we advocate for those resources for resources for cultural centers at universities. But again, this sort of game design exploration work as a way of looking at other alternative ways of trying to share that that mechanism that is so helpful and potentially powerful. So in some of my previous work, if we’re talking about representation, and how games do or do not represent diverse peoples, well, I looked at a bunch of different tactics that games are already using, to to achieve good identity representations. This is not just for race, but for other aspects of identity. And in analyzing a bunch of games that actually do have relatively good diverse representation, I came up with this list of five design tactics. So you know, there is visual design that can be an important part of representation in games. But there are also all these other games system things that you can be doing that will make that representation more than just physical appearance, right. So the sending in roles, the way you design conversations, the rule design, the abstract representation of characters are all ways of doing that. So for me, the nice thing about this project was also an excuse to put some of this work into actions. This was all sort of an analysis of existing games that were published and available on the market. But I wanted to be able to take some of this work of mine from a couple years ago and put it into action into active design work. So in addition to lenses of critical race theory, and my work, I also incorporate intersectionality. And in my games work, I often lean very heavily on queer theory, specifically through game studies. So as my team and I were conceiving of what does this project look like, what does the game design work look like? We’re looking to extend some of the rubrics work on queer games to think about, what does it look like to make a game that is designed by for and about people of color? And then the sort of second question that we’re exploring with this project is how do we actually accurately and faithfully capture the experiences of black indigenous and students of color at predominantly white institutions in this game context while respecting and treating those stories well.
Alexandra To 28:01
So we worked on the game design for this proposed game for about three to four months, last year in the fall and spring. And the sort of conclusion that we came to at the end of that prototyping work that we did, was a couple of things. The first was that it was just incredibly special to get to engage in that process of making a game that was, again, by, for, and about people of color. So I had the chance to work with two students of color on this project, a lot of our early work on the project was just all of the preparation of setting ourselves up for success. So we spent a lot of time figuring out how to make a creative design space in our project meetings, that allowed us to deal with topics that can be sensitive, or that can feel a bit taboo, when you’re dealing with people that you are just working with, for the first time, making sure that we found ways to acknowledge and uplift each other’s humanity, making sure that it was a safe place to share vulnerable experiences to design around those to interact with them with each other. And also make sure that we’re doing good and rigorous work. So these are just a couple of examples of what we did that I’m hoping others can incorporate into design processes. One of them is creating a shared list of agreements or community agreements, that very much comes from my work in racial justice spaces where you have to think about like, what kinds of values are you going to uphold in a space? And how do you make sure that everyone is accountable to those values, including supervisors.
See, the goal ultimately was to kind of create an environment where vulnerability is welcome, but it’s not required. And that’s another really important aspect of that. So again, the conclusions that we came through, right so one, it was like very affirming and exciting to do this, right. This was for me, in the space, like one of the first times I’ve shared with students specifically what it was like for me to be in college, as a mixed race person, the experiences that I had that were applied figured affirming, like student activism, the bad experiences that I had being questioned about my own identities. And my students did the same, which I was really excited about, because it gave me space to write about those things and some of my other work. So we actually ended up publishing a short paper just about the design process, there was already so much we found out just getting to do that work together. So a couple of the things we write about that short paper about what that looks like, and feels like to do this sort of BIPOC game design process was that like, yes, it is a little bit scary. We found out that a lot of the game design conventions that are taught to game students and game scholars don’t actually apply in this scenario. So one example for us early in the process was we were making a tower defense game. And one convention in games is that because of things like growth mindset, that are built very well into games, where if you fail at something, it’s sort of psychologically acceptable, because you always come back to life, you get to try again, that simply doesn’t apply when the entire audience or the entire cast of game characters are students of color at a white academic institutions watching students of color, die or fail over and over again, in the context of the game, it doesn’t really have that same impact that like is written about in many different game design theory books. So you know that there’s a bit of pressure when it comes to doing that kind of game design. But for the most part, it’s an incredibly joyful and affirming process to incorporate those kinds of values into a design process. So a lot of what we did was try to empower each other to speak up to say, when an idea for the game was harmful, or when it needed to be thrown out, because it wasn’t working. And it was very joyful to just see like mundane, everyday representation. Our narrative designer, Chris, wrote a bunch of scenes of just students going to the cafeteria together and studying together, doing these things. And just getting to see students of color in that environment doing everyday things, was like surprisingly powerful for all of us, because we realized we didn’t have media that that showed much of that prior to our work trying to spend stuff on the game. So beyond all those process, things that we learned, the other thing that we learned was that yes, we did have enough juice as a team to create a game prototype, just filling it with our own experiences. But at the end of the day, that was not enough to build out a whole game. And we had to actually return to sort of old standby for me, which is collecting people’s stories, there are just not publicly available narratives about what it’s like to be a college student of color at a PWI. We have a lot to share from our own personal experiences, and the experiences of colleagues and friends. But ultimately, if we want to actually do this properly, do it faithfully, we needed to go back and actually collect more data and more stories about this. This is another ongoing interview study that’s happening in my lab. We’re again, we’re kind of asking questions about sources of joy and strength and resilience as a student of color at a PWI. And then asking questions about like, what was surprising? What were you anticipating what went well, what were some things that like you wish you had been more prepared for, for those experiences. And even though we’re not at the design phase, right now, it is this word is trying to take on a bit of a spirit of asset space design, in treating our audience, students of color at PW eyes as experts and treating those experiences as valuable and something that we should send her the design around. So again, I want to share just a couple of preliminary quotations from our early data analysis. This study, I also believe we have around six or seven participants completed at this point, we’re pausing data collection until we pick things back up again in January. But yeah, a lot of the findings are unsurprisingly, about the need for counterspaces.
And part of what we’re trying to do, again, is drill down on the specifics there. So we have students were talking about, like, what it was like to be in a space that level the power dynamics between faculty, staff, and students, so everyone could engage with these ideas of diversity and inclusion. So you could run programming where everyone is in a space of learning together. There is a lot of discussion of what it feels like to be able to lower your guard when you’re in a space because you know that people are not going to come up to you and question things about your identity or ask you to teach them things about yourself. And instead, you can just sort of live in the like affirmation of a space where you know, you’re going to encounter other people who have your sort of shared same experiences. So again, these findings are not particularly surprising. But what they did offer again, is very specific stories that hopefully we can also incorporate into our future games work in addition to just shedding more light on what this experience is like, beyond the sort of lens of deficits in trauma. And then the last project I’ll touch on today, just very briefly is another game design project that more directly confronts those uglier experiences of prejudice and identity that I mentioned do come up in some of my previous work, but wasn’t necessarily the focus of this, as long as project looks at at, again, the power of games to teach and to transform, and also as sort of a jumping off point for thinking about the future in terms of speculative design and designing for the kinds of futures that we might want to engage with the suit with other my other students, Doxa, Xinyu, Heng, and Dilruba. So again, once again, going back to motivations, the original motivation of this work was that I just wanted to be doing participatory design work. This is work that happened at the end of my PhD thesis, I was looking at the topic of interpersonal racism at the time, so it was a little bit more focused on negative and traumatic experiences. But I wanted to engage participants with speculation and thinking about the future, what does it look like to be supported with these sort of negative experiences happen. And while there are a great number of participatory design and speculative design exercises, that have been used to do that kind of future thinking, most of them were not easily adopted to something as sensitive as experiences of racism. And for me, sort of the immediate thought was, like both games are, are again, once again, a very powerful tool for intervening in that kind of space. Because they’re so immersive because they allow you to take on the role of another person role playing has been used in those kinds of very serious clinical contexts for dealing with sensitive topics. And unlike reading a fictional story, or watching a movie, the interactivity of games gives a lot of agency to the person who’s playing or using them, and making choices about how they’re going to interact with the content. So if you’re not familiar, just a brief definition. microaggressions are subtle, sometimes unintended slights, insults, exclusions, there are racial microaggressions. But they’re also microaggressions across a number of other forms of identity, gender, sexuality, etc. So for this work, what I did was wrote an interactive fiction vignette about a college student who experiences a racial microaggression. So again, this sort of first person perspective allows participants to engage with an experience of racial prejudice and aggression from a first person perspective. But without unnecessarily putting that participant in those actual shoes in the way that like a deception study, or something else more live would do. So this story follows a character named Sam, who’s in a research lab, they go to have coffee with a visiting professor, where they then encounter three back to back racial microaggression statements.
So those are your English is so good, you’re so articulate, and where are you from? Where are you really from, where your parents from. And at the time, when I designed this game, the purpose of the game was to be again, a jumping off point for speculative design. So I asked participants to play through the game. And then they did this design activity where they analyze the game. And they started to find opportunities for design started to relate it to their own experiences. And we did sort of participatory design workshops, doing those activities in groups, where then the participants produced these like storyboards and ideas for futuristic technologies that would better support them through experiences of racism or prejudice. So that that work is a bit older. The the current ongoing work in the space comes from the feedback that I actually got, as I was presenting this, this work after it was completed, which was I was constantly getting this question about, like, Oh, this is like, this vignette is really interesting. Can you use it to teach people about microaggressions? So last summer, I had three incredible master students who extended the work, they looked at different opportunities for using the game to teach different ideas about microaggressions. So one version was created to look at historical perspectives on microaggressions. Like where did the stereotypes come from that are then harmfully embedded into microaggressions. Another version looked at this idea of allyship and bystander intervention. So when you see a microaggression happening, how do you recognize it? Label it? How do you speak up either for yourself or for someone else? And then the third version is mostly getting out the information about what is a microaggression? What is it that makes it so harmful for the people who are experiencing it so all these first two are a little bit more aimed at allies and accomplices who might be able to do something when they see it happening or who might be able to like, learn themselves to not inflict those on other people? The third version is a little bit more about people who experienced microaggressions. And understanding, like, why does it make you feel so tired or exhausted? Or, you know, like, why does it feel harmful to like your sense of belonging and space when you hear these microaggressions. And part of the motivation behind this is that a lot of people when hearing a microaggression, will have the instinct to brush it off and act like it doesn’t matter, because it’s not an overt form of prejudice, but they actually do end up being quite psychologically harmful. So one note, I wanted to say about this work, because again, this design work is ongoing, is that I’m very proud of the work that these students have done. But one of the things that we’re doing right now is is choosing to move forward very slowly and cautiously with these games. There are a lot of really great empathy and learning games out there. But there are also some really bad ones that can be more harmful than good. So what we’re doing now is doing a lot of assessment about making sure that the bystander interventions in the game are validated that we’re being sensitive to the fact that these are real experiences that people have had were likely to read these games. So we’re trying to move forward sort of cautiously and how we choose to move forward and release these more publicly.
Mikael Jakobsson 41:19
Alright, so to wrap up today, I wanted to just summarize a couple of my thoughts and things that I’ve been learning through the process of working on these projects, and a little bit about where I hope this work is headed for myself and for other people. So for me, there are a couple of good opportunities here and again, centering, centering people of color in a game design experience. The first one is just to remember when you’re doing work that is meant to have some kind of systemic change, or you’re looking to be more inclusive. The number one thing is to look at what people who are already working in that space are already doing. Right. As I mentioned, up top right, people of color have always been in games, streamers, developers, designers, etc. And there are already plenty of people who are doing the work of reclaiming and remaking game spaces, some of them are doing it within the games industry, and some are doing it by creating their own communities and spheres of influence. So for me, that’s just a general go to tactic whenever I’m working in a space where I’m looking at systemic change is that looking to the people who have already been doing the work, finding ways of of lifting up lifting and supporting it, and sharing resources and spotlight in the work, I think is the the kind of first place to go. The instinct to to always start from scratch, I think comes from a colonial mindset that AI is a habit that I want us as academics to break as much as possible.
Mikael Jakobsson 42:43
The second is not really a directive, it’s more of a of an exciting feeling that I felt, and I’ve seen other people on my teams feel, which is that like, when you get the chance to do that representation correctly, when you get to center those experiences, it really does uplift the joy and humanity of all of the people who are involved. It’s very exciting in a way that like I did not realize I was missing when I first started these projects, and then finally, like, it’s not just about the output, right of what we’re making, it’s also about the processes that we use on the way to that ultimate design, right? So embedding some of these, you know, community values, and centering these ideas of like joy and humanity and rest in a design process is really another way of sort of uplifting all of the people who are going to be involved in your design teams and processes. So I like I said, a lot of this is ongoing work. There are still interviews I used to complete and there’s going to be a lot of game design work that’s happening in my life in the spring. I’m also looking at other aspects of the work with a couple of collaborations. So Chris Martens and I are looking at using tabletop story games as a way to think about speculative liberatory futures. And I’m also working with Christina Harrington on a more generalized design framework that again, kind of centers, the cultural values of people of color, joy, wellness, rust, things like that. I did want to shout out really briefly a bunch of other kinds of things that I worked on. If you ever want to chat about these or connect about some of my other work. I do a lot of work in critical race theory and HCI intersectionality and intersectional feminism and HCI. A lot of my work also is at the meta level of looking at the culture of academia, a short paper that came out like a year and a half or two years ago, on lab counterculture like how do we make academic labs that center equity and think about things like power hierarchies and dynamics and flattening those things. I used to work on scholar activism, and a bunch of other games projects that I really enjoy. So with that, I do want to acknowledge my incredible collaborators as well as my students. They’re the reason why I get to do all this awesome work. This was the first semester that my first year that my lab was doing lab meetings. So we’ve been working a lot about sort of ingraining the kinds of cultural values or just like workplace values that we want to ingrain the lab moving forward that’s been really exciting and joyful work for me to get to do with my students. So with that, thank you all, again, so much for having me here and for your time, and I’m very much looking forward to our discussion.
Heather Hendershot 45:24
Great, thank you so much. Um, I know, we’re all applauding, but we’re mostly muted. But I know everyone’s applauding because that was a terrific presentation. Um, let’s open up to questions and comments discussion with the audience. See, we have just a note from TL so interesting as such important work. Thanks for sharing. Marvez I think just put a hand up, is that correct? And then it went away? Anyone? I kick us off. Um, it’s a kind of it’s a sort of banal question following such exciting and interesting research. But I noticed that you were doing this, the Black Simmers from the Facebook group study was a collaboration with UT Austin. And that there was a note at the top that you had IRB approval from Northeastern, and there were little details like $25, payment to participants and so on. And I thought, um, it might be of interest to our grad students who are working on their theses and formulating their methods and constructing research studies and so on for you to talk about how that collaboration came about a little bit and funding issues and just sort of give them a picture that would help them as budding intellectuals in this area budding scholars in this area.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a that’s a really great question. Yeah, it was really interesting. I I first met Angela in 2019, we both attended the CHI conference, which if anyone is not familiar, it’s like the really big HCI conference in the field was in Scotland. That was that year, which I think was the last conference I attended before we went only to virtual things. So yeah, at the time, there wasn’t that many people talking about race at all in in the field of HCI. Or if they were, they were tending to use a lot of coded language, you know, like things like marginalized or underrepresented, right, never actually saying, Actually race. So when I was attending the conference, and I’m encouraged as for any, any students who are thinking about going to conferences, or who might be able to go or can find the time. That’s that was a really big value, right? I’m going to find people who are excited about the same topics as you. So I was like going to those sessions with like the coded names for like, part of research with vulnerable communities. I got a chance to meet Angela. And also Finda, who is the other co first author of the critical race theory for HCI paper that that we wrote along with Kentaro Toyama who was Finda’s advisor. So yeah, I mean, finding people that you vibe with in academia is like one of the biggest, most important things I think that you can do. Like, we found that we were excited about the same research questions and problems. We did that critical race theory paper together and said, like, oh, well, now this is done. What are other opportunities we have to work together? So I think sometimes when you’re looking to collaborate, sometimes you’re looking for someone very specific. You’re like, Oh, I know, I want to work on this problem. I need someone who has this other expertise, let me go find people. But in other cases, like, my collaborations with Angela, it was like, Hey, let’s have a meeting where we just sit and talk about all the things that we’re excited about. And let’s find an overlap and see if we can spin up a project from there. So that was very much for that project came from. I was mentioning that like I’m in a games group. Angela, I believe is in information science, we’re trying to figure out like, where is there a good fit, with all the things that will get us to move forward in our careers, but also give us the chance to work together. So that was a big part of that. And then in terms of the the logistics, they ended up not being too too difficult. There’s a lot of infrastructure at universities for cross-university collaboration, you want to work with your IRB offices and kind of figure out who owns things, a lot of the logistics come down to like, data safety and security and things like that. So those are all logistics that like, once you know what you want to do, relatively easy to figure out, you know, work with your administrators and people and you know, treat them kindly, and those things tend to work out relatively smoothly takes a while, but it’s not too bad.
Heather Hendershot 49:30
Great, thank you. Um, Marvez is next, and I believe their having some video trouble, but it has fine with audio, so we might not see my best but we can hear them.
G. R. Marvez 49:42
Can everyone hear me okay? Yeah, okay. Sorry. I don’t know why my video doesn’t seem to want to cooperate it but thank you for your talk. It’s really interesting. One, in my lab, we create educational simulations to help teachers practice like enacting moments of equity. And I’m curious How your lab goes about balancing like authenticity with like a simulation design, like, what elements of reality Do you abstract away so people can focus on the like microaggressions? Or the moments of inequity? Yeah, thanks.
Mikael Jakobsson 50:16
Yeah, that’s a really great question. And it’s a difficult one, right? Because you never want to accidentally trivialize things by removing the elements that are important. So really, I think it just comes down to like play testing and user testing for me, right, like bringing as many stakeholders who are impacted in as you can with the time that you have, and making it very clear that like, your, your game, or your system, or whatever it is that you’re working on is not complete, it is open to change, it likely has assumptions in it that are maybe correct or not. And that when you’re bringing someone in to do a user test or a play test, like in the context of games, right that like, that person does not feel pressure to say that it’s good, because of like, you know, the bias of wanting to like, make you feel good, or pump you up or like, say nice things about your research, trying to encourage that. That process of iteration and critique, I think is a big part of it. Like I said, the game that my students and I are working on, on the student of color experience. It’s right, we had a couple of major game design overhauls, right? Where we have been working on this one design idea for like, a month and a half. And eventually we’re like staring at it together. And we’re like, Hey, I think this is actually potentially really harmful. And it’s a very painful moment. But making sure you’re building in that time and those protections to let that happen. And to treat it like a good thing, because hey, at least we’re learning something and moving forward, I think is helpful. That’s also more of a tip for supervisors, maybe then for students, right, but like, make sure that these timelines are not going to sacrifice the quality of the work and end up actually harming people.
Heather Hendershot 51:53
Thank you. We have a question from Tomas, who asks a question. Thanks for the fantastic talk. I was wondering if you thought about any parallels between the Sims and theater as a media practice and the strategies that marginalize […]?
Alexandra To 52:16
Oh, that’s a very cool question. Well, I will say I don’t know too much about theatre so that I probably wouldn’t be able to speak with any authority to those parallels. But your question did make me think of some interesting things that happen in the social media groups around the Sims that I think have some interesting interactions. So I think, you know, something that I I want to do with the project in the future is do a little more content analysis and some of those things. So there are, like I said, the Facebook groups, there’s Tumblr groups around the Sims, there’s discord groups, Instagram, Twitter, like the community is all over the place. But one of the things that especially happens on Facebook and discord is that people engage in a lot of storytelling there. So there are a lot of participants have spoken about this, which is why I’m able to speak to that a little bit more, even though it wasn’t the focus of the study. But people are like, crafting and creating their own storylines with The Sims and taking screenshots of their Sims and like writing up short narratives about their relationships in the game and all these things and then post them to the Facebook group for other people to read as like a kind of mix between like fanfiction, and short storytelling with these like visual aids of The Sims. So I think that’s really exciting to see how people are like engaging that kind of creative activity. I’m not sure if that entirely answered the question you had. Another thing it also made me think of is streamers. There’s a lot of streamers who like to play the game and stream the Sims to other people. Some of them create and use their own mods, some of them don’t. But there is kind of an interesting interaction there. People are sharing a lot of their gameplay for a game that is like a single player game. So I don’t know it’s like, totally related to the question that you asked, but are some interesting things that I’ve noticed as I’ve been like diving more and more into the community aspect of it.
Heather Hendershot 54:08
Super, thank you. Who’s next? Mike.
Mikael Jakobsson 54:19
Hyah, Alexandria, I also can’t turn on the video. But I think your talk was great. So we’re doing a lot of similar work here in the MIT Game Lab. And one of the things that we often think about and struggle a bit with is what how do you create sort of a long term change? If you call me into a community or into a context and you run a couple of workshops, you make some games together, something like that, but then you know, you’re at some point you have to leave what you leave behind? I was just curious about your, your thoughts on that?
Mikael Jakobsson 55:09
Yeah, I really love that question. So one of the the frameworks that I use that I had a very brief site about is called assets based design, and assets based design, right is trying to respond to that sort of HCI framework that we tend to teach our, like, early HCI students of need finding, right? It’s where it’s like when you’re doing work, you go to a community, you assess what needs they have, and you design to fill those needs. And then you leave, like, as you’re saying, right? It’s like, suddenly you disappear from the process. And assets based design is meant to look more at what are the active practices of the community already, right? How do we treat those as valuable? How do we integrate any designs or interventions that we create as being embedded in the existing practice of the community as a way to make sure that those things last and that they’re more long term? Just like dropping an intervention on people than like walking away and saying, like, Oh, I did my study, and I’m done. It’s like trying to more actively work with the current practices. So that’s like the the general like framework in theory, I try to center when I’m doing this kind of work. But I will admit, like a very long term evaluation study is not something that has been on on my sort of research catalog history is something that I really want to do especially as I’m starting to think about moving into educational spaces with potentially younger game players but has not come up directly in my work yet.
So I would love to talk to you more about this maybe other ways that we can collaborate with you for the game that but thank you, that was the good answer. And […] wants to say hi, as well to everybody.
Alexandra To 56:55
Yeah, that sounds amazing. Yeah, thank you for the question.
Heather Hendershot 56:59
Boy now I wish my cats were allowed in my study, but they’re not, they’re too destructive and distracting. We do have video now and as Scot points out now you can see us all smiling and nodding vigorously we can turn on our cameras if we if we choose to. Um Do we have any who’s next Scot
Alexandra To 57:25
Hey unless it’s just me, I think something’s up with your mic. It’s a little hard to hear
Andrew Whitacre 58:03
Yeah, it almost sounds like you’ve got a bad input connection Scott=. It’s it’s robotic sounding
Heather Hendershot 58:12
ah, type your question if you’d like. Exactly. Yeah, Scot=t, did you type in I’m sorry. That’s frustrating
while you’re typing though, it is great to see you that I’m glad to be able to have her very great things from my PhD advisor Jess Hammer so, thank you.
Heather Hendershot 58:45
Okay, we’re just pausing for a second while Scot, Scot who claims he’s not a robot, I think might be a robot. But I guess this is question. I take a minute so we from for anyone else in the interim?
Heather Hendershot 59:10
Now with working video. Yeah. So for the games your lab has been working on what like platforms do you use to develop these games typically. And I’m also really interested how you go through the prototyping stages, like when you feel that a game is ready to move into like its software version.
Yeah, I will say I’m, I’m very enamored of tabletop games and board games. So I that tends to be the medium that I like to stick with. But you know, as someone who’s joint appointed in a computer science department, I recognize I probably need to move into digital a little bit more than I am currently. I also I really like twine so a lot of what I do is very narrative heavy and it’s you know, it’s open source. It’s a very easy to use tool for for folks who are making games for the first time I did. That was one of my summer ambitions that that worked for two weeks and then failed, which is I tried to take a class on Unity over the summer. And I was like, nope, didn’t happen, don’t have motivation to like, learn a whole new thing right now. But a lot of my students, we have a really great games undergraduate program at Northeastern is also a master’s programs, there’s a lot of really great talented game designers and developers that I had the chance to work with. So the BIPOC PWI game is currently being developed in Unity. And in terms of prototyping, I think, again, like a very HCI mindset to want to stick with paper prototyping for as long as you can, just because it allows you to do that thing, instead of like throwing your ideas out, way harder to throw your ideas out when you had someone spend like a couple months developing something on a very specific platform with, you know, sort of very specific mechanics built into it. So I actually, I didn’t put it on any of the slides. But I years ago published a paper at meaningful play on a process for design transformational games, where I talked a lot about like, the iterative cycles you go through of doing research, coming up with your idea, doing the necessary background, turning those ideas into a physical prototype that you continue to play test, and then kind of go back and forth between those cycles. So it’s mostly just incorporating like a very HCI mindset of iteration. And in terms of when you know, you’re done, that’s where I think the transformational framework really comes in handy. That’s Sabrina Culyba’s work. The website, you can find it like transformationalframework.com. She’s got a free PDF of her book available on the website. But she talks a little bit about like, how do you define a transformational goal? How do you make sure that you define your audience concretely? And how do you define the kind of change you want to see and that helps with like, whether it’s like a formal research study measures or just like anecdotal observational behavior that you see, when someone’s playing your game of like, did the change that I hoped would happen actually happen? So it’s all very abstract, I can give a specific example again, for my like early thesis work, I made a a board game that was about encouraging curiosity in underrepresented students in STEM at the middle school level. But the idea of like encouraging curiosity is a very abstract big goal. So using the transformational framework we like kind of drill down on like, what’s a specific element of curiosity that we can actually see that we can actually measure? What we ended up going with was question asking, so then it was a very simple matter of like, every time we test the game, we can literally just like record, like, how many questions? Is each student asking when they play the game? What are the quality of those questions? Can we assess them for like whether or not they’re using aspects of like hypothesis testing, with the scientific method or things like that? So you find those like metrics that you’re looking for, and then you can start to track those over time each time we do a play test.
G. R. Marvez 1:03:08
Great, thank you.
Heather Hendershot 1:03:11
Tomás Guarna 1:03:16
Sorry, this is actually Tomas from from Srushti’s […]. So this is me again, how’s it going? So I’m interested in, in in the extent to which mods can serve as a counter strategy to creating media in the sense that, you know, sure this, you can create beautiful things around the Sims. But first Sims is built as a race blind game, but it’s also a game about capitalism, and the patriarchal family structure, right, it’s like, and it their constraints are very much their ideological constraints. So I was wondering, what are the limits to these media making strategies for you?
Mikael Jakobsson 1:03:52
Yeah, that’s a that’s a interesting question. Um, I will say, I don’t know if this again, directly answers your question. But I do think I’ve seen how, in just a short time working on this project, right, how much the modding community by creating this sense of community by creating the sphere of influence by advocating and talking about the kinds of game content they want to see in the actual game has had an actual influence on the games industry, or like, if we’re just talking at least talking specifically about the Sims, right? So if you look at the promotional material for that expansion pack, I talked about the spa day package, it is very clearly targeted towards black sands players right there the content that’s in there that they’re using, like the trailers are all using, like Megan, the stallion music, it’s like focused on different Black Cultural hairstyles and nails and things like that. So I do think that like, any of this kind of work is actually quite powerful and showing that there is at least a market and an audience if we want to talk about it from a capitalist perspective. But yeah, I mean, ultimate You’re right, right, like, The Sims is a bit unique, and that the modeling capability you can do in there is actually pretty deep, like you can actually change the game mechanics quite deeply one of the modifications. That is in the, I believe the mccc mod package is a mod for child support, right. So that is like a deep element of gameplay. That’s not just like, oh, I downloaded a skin tone that wasn’t available before. It’s like actually changing the structure of the gameplay. So at least for that game, in particular, there’s actually quite a lot you can do to change the structures, but in general, ultimately, yeah, it’s like, what you want is to show that there’s a market and a need for these things that hopefully changes the actual games industry into making that content.
Tomás Guarna 1:05:49
Oh, can I follow up with a question? So I think that’s a very interesting point. But I wonder, because, you know, most, not, not all games can be modded. So I was wondering if you if you if you found anything about EA’s discourse around around allowing much sort of Sims I understand they are allowed sensitive seems to, and they seem to be very powerful compared to other video games where the mods seems to be like, no skins are like something very superficial. I was wondering if you if you saw that as a core part of the proposition that Sims builds?
Mikael Jakobsson 1:06:22
I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I haven’t really read as much about what EA if anything they’ve published about, like how they’re making any of these decisions, I do think that would be an interesting thing to explore the future to like, try to see if you actually, like, get in contact with the folks who are like leading design development over there. But I wouldn’t be able to speculate about that.
Tomás Guarna 1:06:41
Heather Hendershot 1:06:43
Um, we do have a question from Scot now, which I’ll read aloud. The film television industry seems to have turned a corner in sometimes centering BIPOC voices, even if it’s purely for the profit motive. Do you see comparable movement in the commercial games industry?
Mikael Jakobsson 1:06:59
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know that I have felt a huge change from like industry with a capital I write like, really big game companies or things like that. But I do think I’ve seen a lot of again, that, that that sort of distribution of power, right, you know, there are a lot more indie developers, who are able to crowdfund or get their own funding or sell fun, their own games are able to make prototypes, or pilots of their own game content and have found an audience that’s really eager for games that are again by foreign about people of color. So I think the the ability of people to like access the audience directly, and having that power, not just centered and located on like bigger studios, has, I think, created the opportunity for a lot of change in terms of the industry itself, I hope that they catch up. I was I this semester was teaching, rapid idea prototyping with the undergraduates at at CMU. And we were looking together last week at just like basic kind of market game stats from 2020 about, like, you know, like what games are making the most money and, and what are the most popular were the most popular platforms. And that that spider man expansion for Miles Morales was like up there, and one of the top 10 lists, right, like there is a huge market that wanted that game that was excited for it. But it wasn’t a standalone game. It was just an expansion. So I think if the, the games industry would see that, hopefully, that’ll motivate some more change. But yeah, it’s a funny thing, right? Like, it’s these bigger industries, like, you know, entertainment and games, it is, at a certain point going to largely be profit driven. And I think that for some people, that can be pretty disheartening. Like I know, that’s it was a tough thing for me to swallow when I when I finally came around to you know, seeing capitalism everywhere. But in my critical race theory work, right, one of the core tenets of critical race theory is the idea of interest convergence, right. And it means like accepting the idea that social progress and justice historically has not happened unless it’s in the material interests of the majority. And again, I whenever I’ve shared kind of that that concept of interest convergence to the audience’s I’ve had a chance to speak to I do try to encourage people I try not to, to let that bring you down into a defeatist attitude. It’s more like having that knowledge is always going to be a useful tool in any kind of advocacy work you do, like capitalism does drive a lot of the way things happen, at least in the States. And I think that that’s, hopefully a useful leverage point, but it’s not a difficult one to have to deal with and confront. Great, thank you.
Alexandra To 1:09:45
Um, do we have anyone else queued up or any of the following up?
Mikael Jakobsson 1:09:56
I always have a question for all of you, which maybe folks can answer in the chat or out loud, I would love to hear more about the games work that that y’all are doing. If you’d like links to websites or things that I can check out, I’m always excited to learn more and find out what’s been going on over other places in Boston.
Heather Hendershot 1:10:15
That’s, that’s great. And I definitely I would encourage people and our students to email Alexandria later. But also, if anyone has any links they want to share now or any just work that they want to talk about. Anybody else?
Alexandra To 1:10:34
Any and all of that, I’ll put my email in the chat also, for folks who don’t have Thank you.
Heather Hendershot 1:10:38
That’s great. Thanks. I’m just waiting a second.
Heather Hendershot 1:10:45
I think we might be played out because it’s the last day of classes. And I think we might just be a little tired and maybe need to end colloquium a little a few minutes early today. I’m just giving another second for anyone out there. But yeah, I think we may we may be done. Thank you so much, Alexandra, for your time. It was really terrific. Terrific to see your work to learn more about it. I want to take just a minute for a few announcements before I sign off. Um, let’s see, uh, our this is our last colloquium, obviously, this semester, and we’ve got one coming up on February 3, with the title Changing the Subject: Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and the Making of Black Women’s Film History. That presentations by Samantha Sheppard from Cornell, so pretty excited about that. We also have some finalists who for our job search in the areas of computational and or industrial studies, who will be presenting it throughout February and perhaps into March, probably five, five talks there. So keep an eye out for that. We’ll send you updates when we have them. We’ve got someone speaking in Spanish language podcasting, who is a current Nieman Fellow. So that should be great. And we’ve also got Raquel Gates coming. Still in the works, but she said yes, but we’re waiting to see if she is going to be virtual or in person from Columbia University. Speaking on probably on Melvin van Peebles, she she collaborated with the Criterion for on their box set of Melvin van Peebles films. So just to give you a little taste of what’s coming in the spring, and we will keep you posted as that moves along. Thank you again, everyone, for coming and to Alexandra, for your time. Wonderful, and I’m just
Alexandra To 1:12:38
Thanks so much for having me yeah, this is fun.
Heather Hendershot 1:12:40
Great. Thank you.
Alexandra To 1:12:41
Thank you so much.