Podcast: Barbie and Mortal Kombat 20 Years Later

Co-hosted with MIT Women’s and Gender Studies, part of its Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat panel discussions.

In Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the third edited volume in the series that includes From Barbie to Mortal Kombat and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the authors and contributors expand the discussions on gender, race, and sexuality in gaming. They include intersectional perspectives on the experiences of diverse players, non-players and designers and promote inclusive designs for broadening access and participation in gaming, design and development. Contributors from media studies, gender studies, game studies, educational design, learning sciences, computer science, and game development examine who plays, how they play, where and what they play, why they play (or choose not to play), and with whom they play. This volume further explores how the culture can diversify access, participation and design for more inclusive play and learning.

Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher and developer of tools, communities, and materials to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. Her recent books include “Connected Gaming: What Making Video Games Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy,” and “Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming,” and edited volumes such as “Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of Electronic Textiles and Education” and “Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional Perspectives and Inclusive Designs for Gaming.” She coauthored the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan for the US Department of Education. Kafai earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University while working with Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and past President of the International Society for the Learning Sciences. Justice Walker and Emma Anderson are doctoral students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Gabriela Richard is an Assistant Professor of Learning, Design and Technology at Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on understanding the intersections between culture, experience, media, and learning, particularly in the areas of online and emerging technologies, including gaming. Her work has focused on understanding the ways that gender, race/ethnicity, and sexuality are defined and experienced in game culture and online gaming in order to inform inclusive and equitable designs for learning with serious games, as well as play and participation with gaming and emerging technology more broadly. She has written extensively about games and learning, as well as youth learning, engagement, and computational thinking with electronic textiles, game design, and online communities. She was an NSF graduate research fellow, an AAUW dissertation fellow, and a Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vicky Zeamer

About Vicky Zeamer

My passions fall more in the realm of human-centered design. I have spent my previous education and work experience in the tech industry, specifically focusing on how user experience (UX) can help guide the development of technology to be better for people and society. At MIT, I earned my M.Sc. in Comparative Media Studies where I wrote my thesis on how the dining out food industry shifted in response to the proliferation of digital food culture on Web 1.0 & 2.0. I earned my B.A. at Wellesley College where I studied both how people and societies function and create culture (American Studies) and how computer science and design could be leveraged for innovation (Media Arts and Sciences). I am currently a UX Research role at HubSpot in Cambridge, a software company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses grow through an online marketing and sales platform. I sit as a user-centered researcher within the Machine Learning (ML) engineering team where my main focus is to gather insights about our users and strategize how to create ML-enabled solutions for our customers. Being at the intersection of technology and people is really my sweet spot.


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