For this collection, we've decided to highlight awareness on some of the overlooked perspectives in history and video games. POC, women, and the LGBTQ+ communities have little representation in the gaming community and industry, despite comprising a significant portion of gamers. As such, much of the read and watch media chosen below discusses the trials of finding and presenting accurate, respectful representation for POC, women, and he LGBTQ+ communities in games, and why it is important that we continue to strive for such diversity. The games in the play component were chosen to help highlight the experiences of these groups. This collection is not meant to be fully representative of these communities's experiences—there is so much more that can, and should, be discussed than our monthly sets can cover. We only hope that we were able to highlight some of the work produced by POC, women, and LGBTQ+ creators, and encourage you to seek more out on your own.
It's Your Journey: Native Innovation in Video Game
For Native communities, LaPensee's games are powerful tools for healing...in a virtual environment, people experience memories and history in a controllable way, progressing—or pausing—at their own pace.
Using Video Games in Diversity and Inclusive Education
Dynamic in-game environments that react to input allow players to adopt the roles and viewpoints of different people or groups in a uniquely immersive way. Video games could thus support educational courses and programs whose objective is to foster empathy, raise awareness, and take real action in hopes of making social change.
Where Is the Queerness in Games?
As a first step toward accounting for the complexity and depth of LGBTQ game content, this article offers an overview of the many forms LGBTQ content takes in games and explores some of the challenges in classifying game content as LGBTQ relevant.
Color Coded: Race, Gender, and Representation in Video Games
Toronto journalist and activist Andray Domise discusses the importance of having accurate minority representation and diversity in video games.
Ms. Male Character - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
This video discusses the Ms. Male Character trope in video games, where a female version of an established male character is created, and whose character is primarily defined by their relationship to their male counterpart.
Looking For Love from Fallout to Dream Daddy
In this video, the complex history of gay relationships is examined. The role of narrative and gameplay mechanics have in othering and normalizing gay relationships is also discussed.
Watch history unfold from the eyes of a cat. Help Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, relive the events leading up the CIA engineered coup of his downfall. A game for those who like history, and a reminder of what does and what doesn't appear in US history books.
Point and click your way west to California from Minnesota, playing as an Anishinaabeg forcibly displaced from their traditional homeland in the 1890s. A game that looks into the effects of colonization and displacement of Native communities, and another reminder of what our history books fail to mention.
Play as a trio of best friends navigating their gender identities and sexualities, all while supporting each other. Viewed through Japanese cultural lens, this series also provides an alternative perspective on societal expectations towards gender and sexuality.
Explore the criminal underbelly of Prohibition Era NYC, and perhaps find love along the way. This game reminds us that LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of history, and its relative levity also reminds us that there are more to marginalized people's stories than their struggles.
Fall Into Fall
What do you think of when October comes around? Spooky skeletons? Pumpkin spice lattes? Jack-o-lanterns? Leaves changing color? No matter how you spend your fall days, it’s hard to argue that the colder weather doesn’t provide the perfect excuse to laze around indoors playing video games. From tension building horror games to cozy autumn adventures, we’ve tried to capture the best parts of October in this month’s collection.
USC Experts Explain the Science of Fright
So why might we subject ourselves to these frightful ordeals? The answer lies within both the mind and the body…
Video Games and the Change of Autumn
Autumn's transitional nature enables it to offer different aesthetics and atmospheres - perfectly encapsulating our often-mixed feelings about the season. This flux occurs in games, too: storyline changes; mysterious plotlines, character and atmosphere intricacies; constant environmental transformations; and a powerful sense of mystery, story-foretelling and landscape-opening are all harnessed to be used as game-changing devices.
Things That Go Bump in the Literature
“Haunted houses” could be among the oldest problems in environmental psychology, i.e., the scientific study of the transactions and interrelationships between people and their surroundings.
Lessons from a Terrified Horror Researcher
Horror researcher Mathias Clasen discusses the science of why we enjoy scaring ourselves half to death.
This video examines the various ways player death can be constructed, and the way the death impacts the progression of the game.
Control, Anatomy, and the Legacy of the Haunted House
This video examines the way haunted houses--the variety in which the house itself is a haunted being, as opposed to being haunted by extraneous beings, e.g. poltergeists--can serve as autonomous beings and antagonists in horror games.
You’re on a spaceship living out your astronaut dream! But some of the crewmates aren’t what they seem… First released in 2018, Among Us has seen a huge jump in popularity this year. This surge is probably due to the onset of the current pandemic--the game fills the void of socialization brought about by social distancing.
Travel the world, build your ship, and learn how to say good-bye in this cozy management game about dying. Spiritfarer handles the topics of death and change realistically but compassionately--this, in tandem with current events, has likely contributed to its rise in popularity.
The sound of rain washes over you as you explore the world. A game for those who miss the fall weather of campus, and who need a quiet space to reflect and let your mind wander aimlessly. Sometimes we need a break from the world.
Take a break and hunt for mushrooms among the delightful fall foliage with your grandmother! A game for those who miss the bright autumn leaves of campus, and to help us remember and reflect on those who shaped us to be the people we are today.
Horror games for people who don’t like horror games. Point and click your way out of the dreamworld in this captivatingly creepy adventure. Best played with the lights off and headphones on.
Pedagogy and Play
The StudioLab is a creative technology space, established by the Council on Science and Technology to nurture interdisciplinary learning. It is a beginner-friendly environment for exploring the arts, humanities, and sciences through hands-on experiences. It is because of these values that the StudioLab also celebrates play, and subsequently celebrates games. Although games don’t have to be designed with didactic intentions to be educational, we’ve chosen “Pedagogy and Play” as the first theme for Read / Watch / Play. In this collection, you’ll find a selection of games designed to help the player learn, as well as articles and videos about the gamification of learning processes.
Video Games Don't Have to Be Educational to Spark Learning
“I was bound to learn something, even if just by accident. And I definitely did.”
Gamification as a Tool for Engaging Student Learning
“We are cautiously optimistic about continuing this line of research in the future. Careful manipulation of game mechanisms can have an impact on sustaining and encouraging play via a gamified application.”
How Gamification Motivates
“Gamification can be a powerful solution to address motivational problems within learning or working contexts, as long as they are well designed and are built upon well-established implementation models.”
Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning
“You are likely to learn the most, and enjoy the most, if you are engaged as an active participant, not a passive recipient.”
The Super Mario Effect: Tricking Your Brain Into Learning More
Mark Rober, YouTuber and former NASA engineer, talks about how approaching life like a game can help others learn more and achieve greater success.
Gamification in Education
Dr. Christopher See, lecturer and researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, discusses how he developed a medical examination based escape room, and the ideas behind gamifying education.
Rethinking Engineering Education with Video Games
Dr. Brianno Coller, professor at Northern Illinois University, speaks about how he’s developed and modified video games to integrate into his engineering course curriculum, improving students’ motivation to learn tough concepts.
Solving puzzles is like the process of creation—you try different things, explore various branches, find ideas that work, ideas that don’t, but you eventually end up somewhere.
Solve puzzles, learn kinetics, and challenge your friends as you blast apart the space-time continuum.
Cell to Singularity
Tap-tap away and play through the history of the evolution of life. Start in the primordial soup and eventually create civilization.
You’re going on a lunar mission in this short demo! But you know what they say about best laid plans…
Nimbatus Drone Creator
If you’re finding it difficult to get your hands on the parts needed to construct robots and drones, or you’re totally new to tinkering and not sure how to start thinking about it, here’s a virtual testing space for all the trial and error you could want.
Explore your artistic side as you create surrealist, mildly unnerving sculptures.