Design Talks April'23: Games, Gender & Race

Last April, Elle Ma and Thalia Johnson (both HDR candidates from the UTS Games Studio Research Lab) presented their research projects at the Design Talks seminar series organised by Dr Baki Kocaballi, from the UTS Interaction Design &  Games Discipline.
This talk focused on games, gender & race.
If you missed the opportunity to join this insightful and energising discussion, you can watch the full video here.

Designing for Social Justice within Games Development

Presenter: Elle Ma

Abstract:  Social justice and video game development can intersect in ways to explore and deliver innovations that can help reduce prejudice within video gaming communities. Video games are powerful cultural symbols that cannot just provide entertainment to the community but help minority groups deal with everyday prejudice. However, sexism and racism run rampant within competitive online shooting games. This is highlighted by misogyny and colonisation, respectively. Furthermore, dark patterns, a branch of behaviour psychology, in game development can also keep the status quo. Ultimately, looking into behavioural patterns and social justice principals could help reduce prejudice within this genre.

For more information about this project, click here.

How video games give players the opportunity to explore gender

Presenter: Thalia Johnson

Abstract: This project aims to explore how video games give players the opportunity to explore gender, focusing on transgender and non-binary people’s experiences while giving baseline information on cisgender people. This review will explore the literature created within four categories: mental health, social, the avatar and the game world, and teaching and therapy tools. Mental health benefits help give the player critical thinking, as well as creating an escape to relieve stress and help with depression and anxiety. Games further allow for more social interaction, giving transgender people support, while also allowing some to come out and socially transition within a safe environment. Researchers have found that video games help give players the ability to create their ideal self, which transgender and non-binary people use to help figure out their gender identity and expression. Finally, video games can be used as tools both to help transgender people with mental health help but also to spread awareness about transgender people. My project will gather the thoughts and experiences of transgender and non-binary people, culminating in a framework that can be used by video game designers to help create video games that are better tailored towards transgender and non-binary people. 

For more information about this project, click here.



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