Doctoral Scholars & Early Career Profs: DBMK Workshop on Gender, Diversity and Serious Games

Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat (DBMK) – A workshop on gender, diversity and serious games

The interest in serious gaming has increased exponentially in the last ten years as evidenced by the number of policy initiatives, conference meetings and publications in industry and academia. More importantly, many large-scale efforts supported by industry and foundations are now underway to develop and implement serious games and virtual worlds. These developments come with increased responsibilities to making serious gaming accessible and inclusive for all. As digital games are being developed for K-12, new charter school designs adopt gaming approaches, and participation in gaming is seen as a springboard into becoming more technologically fluent, we need to better understand how gender intersects with race to be inclusive and broaden participation in schooling and computing. There is also a pressing need to examine the leisure activities related to interest and investment in STEM, which include gaming. In the vein of the two popular edited book series on gender and games, From Barbie to Mortal Kombat and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the DBMK workshop highlights the emerging work on gender, diversity, identity and sexuality in gaming, as well as implications for serious games.


We—Yasmin Kafai, Brendesha Tynes, and Gabriela Richard—are inviting doctoral students and early career scholars to submit extended abstracts of 1000 words of a paper (or a game), which will be presented as a poster during the workshop and the public panel on April 24th. Research and designs should focus on or extend our understanding of race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity and sexuality in relation to gaming. Abstracts are due on Friday, February 20th at 11:59pm. Any inquiries can be directed to dbmk15@gmail.com.

Potential Themes Include (but are not limited to):

– experiences of players (across race or ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation)

– independent game development (particularly inclusive development)

– inclusive design recommendations or practices (based on research)

– inclusion of games or serious games in the classroom (and its effects or experiences across gender, race or other factors)

– game development practices in the industry around gender, race and sexual orientation


Extended abstracts should include references (APA style preferred), though references will not count toward the 1000 word limit. In lieu of a 1000 word scholarly article, potential participants may also submit a game that covers these themes as a demo, with a poster describing the game and how it relates to the workshop themes and related research.

This NSF-funded workshop will occur at the University of Pennsylvania from April 23-24. All accepted participants will have their travel and hotel paid for through the workshop grant.


Workshop Organizers:

Yasmin Kafai, University of Pennsylvania

Brendesha Tynes, University of Southern California

Gabriela T. Richard, University of Pennsylvania


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