Carrie Heeter is a professor of Digital Media Design in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University where she also directs the Communication Technology Laboratory and is Creative Director for Virtual University Design and Technology. Heeter has been creating and studying interactive media experiences since 1989. In 1995 she won Discover Magazine’s software innovation of the year award for the Personal Communicator software. The associated web site continues to attract more than 9,000,000 visitors per year. Her recent design projects focus on games for learning. She currently has two NSF-funded studies pertaining to the workshop: (1) design of a science learning game with several variations for use in experimental research on the relationship between gender, play style, and learning outcomes and (2) extending conceptualization and understanding of play patterns, gender, and learning in educational games through interviews with 25 game designers about their observations throughout years of playtesting learning game products. Heeter was PI of the NSF-funded Girls As Designers study comparing process and products of girl and boy-designed games.
Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Games and Girls
On May 8, 2006, 25 researchers and industry professionals from around the world who have been studying gender and games will come together for a workshop titled “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Games, Gender and Computing”. The theme of our workshop alludes to the seminal and widely popular book “From Barbie to Mortal Kombat” edited by Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins in 1998, which followed a conference organized in 1996 at MIT. Until that time, both industry and research endorsed myths about females and gaming. On the one hand, software companies did not believe that there was a commercial market for girls. On the other hand, researchers did not fully recognize the study of game design and play as a resource for understanding how learners, and women in particular, engage in technology. The book challenged the myth that research on games is not useful, as the chapters provided insight into learning, technology, design, and gender studies.
The last decade has brought more computers into homes, more internet access, new game genres, new game features, new platforms, and new generations of players. Gender-related topics have been a frequent focus of academic research on games. The May 2006 workshop will mark a decade after the first conference and a critical time to revisit and review the field to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. This workshop is structured to continue the conversation, integrate new findings, and outline a new research agenda for the field in the following three focal areas:
The New Girls’ Games (Yasmin B. Kafai)
Girls as Game Creators (Jill Denner)
Girls and Casual Games (Carrie Heeter)