12680 ED: Diversifying and Expanding Inclusive Game Design for Serious Games and Serious Pathways in STEM

06/12/2015 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
CA Ballroom F

Organizers: Gabriela Richard, Yasmin Kafai, Brendesha Tynes

Research on games and equity has spanned the past few decades, most notably seeking to understand the lack of female representation in games, in game playing, and in game making. Yet three key groups were not adequately represented in this discussion – male and female players of color, male players in general and LGBT players – because research on these groups has largely remained lacking. Similarly, while one might argue that women have now arrived, not only making up half of the consumer market, but also making up one of the more significant demographics than the young male audience typically assumed, according to the Electronic Software Association (2014). However, recent events have highlighted that this increased presence has not necessarily been met with increased acceptance, or amelioration of the problems associated with representation in games, in game culture and in development. The continued problems of inclusion and representation become most apparent when we look at the insidious nature of gatekeeping, marginalization and vitriol aimed squarely at female play, inclusive game design, and critical game journalism and scholarship that has garnered headlines and social media presence over the past two years. As digital games are developed for K-12, new charter school designs adopt gaming approaches, and participation in gaming is still seen as a springboard into becoming more technologically fluent, we need to better understand intersections between gender, race, identity and sexuality to be inclusive and broaden participation in schooling and computing.

This highly interactive panel will be made up of educators, academics, game developers, and diverse players who will discuss some of the major themes around play, marginalization, and inclusive design for leisure and learning, in order to help set the course for the next generation of games. We will cover three major themes in the panel: (1) a historical perspective on gaming, equity and inclusivity (lead by Brendesha Tynes); (2) the current research highlighting the need for diversity and inclusivity in gaming for serious games (lead by Gabriela Richard); and (3) future directions and policy implications for diversity and inclusivity in design (lead by Yasmin Kafai). We will start with the first two major themes and lively questions for panel members across areas of expertise for a total of 30 minutes. For some of the questions, we will project visual material (pictures and video) for further illustration and discussion. We will then break up the audience into small groups in a highly interactive exercise and discussion on possible policy implications for addressing diversity and inclusivity in design. The small groups will be presented with scenarios based on current hot topics and issues around games and equity, including, for example, the Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian incidents. These scenarios will be presented in a game-like fashion, through cards with different incidents and prompting questions. We will engage the audience in a group discussion with panelists about these current issues, and recommendations, based on research and expert suggestions. We will end the panel with further discussion through audience-lead questions.

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