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Wednesday, June 11 • 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Let’s Prototype: Women at the Intersection of Learning, Games, and Design

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Let’s Prototype: Women at the Intersection of Learning, Games, and Design
Facilitator:  Amanda Ochsner
Panelists: Elisabeth Gee, Deborah Fields, Yasmin Kafai, Colleen Macklin, Mary-Margaret Walker  

GLS Joins the Conversation

There is a cultural shift taking place in the games industry. Each year at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, there is a topic or theme or two that tends to dominate the conversation. In 2011, that topic was free-to-play social games and you couldn’t walk down a hallway in the conference hall without hearing the word Farmville muttered at least six times. In the spring of 2014, that topic was diversity. Recent years in the past have seen a single session at GDC relating to issues of diversity and gender. That session is a small session and there are often grumblings in the hallway, bemoaning the fact that those people are still talking about that stuff and why don’t they just shut up already? This year, however, GDC hosted an entire track of sessions around these topics—the advocacy track—and it was a big deal. Many of these sessions, such as the panel #1ReasonToBe, about developers’ reasons for persisting in a tough industry culture, and Manveer Heir’s talk Misogyny, Racism, and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand? received standing ovations from audiences. This conversation about opening up the industry so that it is a more welcoming place for all aspiring developers to develop their creativity and grow the impact of games has struck a cord, and it is a conversation that is not just being had by underrepresented minorities or academics—newcomers and leaders alike are stepping up to the table with ideas and actions.

With the roundtables and panels on games and diversity gathering so much momentum at the Game Developers Conference in March, we decided to bring the conversation to the Games Learning Society, having a special panel with experts who innovate at the intersections of learning, games, and design. Our community’s unique blend of educators, game developers, academics, and hybrids of any combination of these is the perfect site for tackling some difficult, but essential issue. For example, are there approaches to teaching game design that are more inclusive or which foster greater diversity of ideas? How can educational institutions design introductory classes that are appealing and welcoming to a broad array of students? Can colleges and universities be more effective in providing mentoring opportunities for young developers? How can what we know about learning inform how we arrange design teams and approach the process of game design?

Join Us for Prototyping Through Networking

In the #1ReasonToBe panel at GDC, Colleen Macklin noted that the games industry has the power to tackle the diversity issues that it faces. “We’re designers,” she says, “we’re talking about systemic issues, and we design systems.” Continuing the theme of design, she argued that we need to fix the system: “Let’s infiltrate the established pattern and change it. Let’s start prototyping and making our field a place where we all want to be” (Wawro, 2014). In this session, the GLS community will start prototyping to design the spaces that we want to learn and work in.

We still start by holding a panel session, moderated by Amanda Ochsner, with Colleen Macklin and other well-known speakers joining us as invited panelists. These women are all leaders in our field, doing smart, innovative work to help build a better future for our field. Immediately following this session, we will host a special networking event for the women of the Games Learning Society community and their allies. Each person in attendance will write out on a notecard a single-sentence statement about what they’re going to do, starting that very day, to prototype a better games and learning community. That could be mentoring a young woman at their institution or workplace, or it could be a new, more inclusive approach to game design that is proven to foster diversity and creativity. When making an introduction with someone, participants will swap notecards and start their conversation with their proposed contribution. Participants will also be encouraged to tweet their statements using our special hashtag:  #GLSprototype. 

avatar for Deborah Fields

Deborah Fields

Independent Research Consultant & Temporary Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, Utah State University
Dr. Deborah A. Fields is a Temporary Assistant Professor in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University and an independent research consultant. Deborah researches children’s connective learning and identity engagement through designing with digital technologies... Read More →
avatar for Elisabeth Gee

Elisabeth Gee

Professor, Arizona State University
I'm the Associate Director of the Center for Games & Impact at ASU, and co-directing the Play2Connect initiative with Dr. Sinem Siyahhan at Cal State-San Marcos. I'm interested in gender and gaming, game-based affinity spaces, and intergenerational play.
avatar for Yasmin Kafai

Yasmin Kafai

Chair, Teaching Learning & Leadership Division, University of Pennsylvania
Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher, designer, and developer of online communities and tools (ecrafting.org, stitchtfest.org, and scratch.mit.edu) to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. Book publications include Connected Code, Connected Play, The Computer Clubhouse, Textile Messages, and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat. Kafai earned a doctorate from Harvard University while working wit... Read More →
avatar for Colleen Macklin

Colleen Macklin

Founder and co-director, PETLab
Colleen Macklin is a game designer, professor in of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design, and founder/co-director of PETLab (Prototyping Education + Technology Lab), a lab that develops games for learning and social engagement. PETLab projects include disaster-preparedness... Read More →
avatar for Amanda Ochsner

Amanda Ochsner

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Southern California

Mary-Margaret Walker

Mary-Margaret Network, Mary-Margaret Network
I started in game development 25 years ago at Origins Systems and continued on to The 3DO Company. After six years in game development, I became a recruiter. My primary focus is on career development and building companies using soft skills, social media and technology tools where... Read More →

Wednesday June 11, 2014 12:00pm - 1:00pm CDT

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