Laurier Portfolio

Below you will find three works selected from my portfolio–two games and one article on publishing games scholarship.

Game: Allergies & Allegories: A Food-Allergy Knowledge Translation Game.

2016. Web. [Public release forthcoming].

Splash Screen

Allergies & Allegories is a web-based game that trains players to recognize the social, cultural, and emotional experience of life with a serious food allergy. The game constitutes a portion of my dissertation and it draws on previously published scholarship in which food-allergic children were interviewed and reported social and psychological anxiety and stress related to their food allergies. Allergies & Allegories translates those interviews into an interactive, multimodal experience through which players can learn to perceive and recognize the environmental, social, and cultural challenges food-allergic children face. In the game players work with Mia, a child with a peanut allergy who is transferring to a new school.

Throughout Allergies & Allegories players work with Mia to navigate various commonplace scenarios mentioned throughout the aforementioned interviews, such as school lunches (food-allergic children are often teased and excluded by their non-food allergic classmates), inter-generational family dinners (some grandparents have difficulty internalizing the severity of food-allergies), and special events (the social importance of events like Halloween can be trying for food-allergic children).

The project itself arose out of a collaboration between myself and researchers at GET-FACTS (Genetics, Environment and Therapies: Food Allergy Clinical Tolerance Studies). GET-FACTS is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded initiative that raises awareness of food allergies in Canada. More specifically, GET-FACTS scholars have produced patient-centered research on the practical, commonplace experiences of life in Canada with a food allergy.

Previous Demonstrations:

  • University of Waterloo – Arts Alumni Event. Waterloo, ON. Oct 2015.
  • Sustaining Partnerships to Transform Scholarly Production. Whistler, B.C. January 2015.

Related Conference Papers:

  • “Designing Games for Knowledge Translation.” Canadian Communication Association. Congress 2016. University of Calgary, AB. May 2016.
  • “Commonplace Games.” Canadian Society for Digital Humanities. Congress 2015. University of Ottawa, ON. June 2015.

Additional Images (click to enlarge)

AllergiesAndAllegoriesRoll AllergiesAndAllegoriesEpipen Pizza

Game: Disclosure: Training Professionals to Respond to the Disclosure of Intimate Partner Violence.

2016. Web. [Currently in Development].

Screenshot 2016-05-31 10.48.00

Disclosure is a game that teaches professionals the proper procedures to follow when a patient or client indicates that they’ve experienced intimate partner violence. The need for such a game is rooted in the complex nature of abusive relationships which often makes it difficult for individuals to pursue services and resources that could address and potential ameliorate their situation. Financial dependency, fear for one’s safety or that of their children, denial, shame–these are some of the reasons that victims of intimate partner violence might be unwilling to discuss their experiences of abuse. However, when an individual suggests that such abuse is taking place in a professional setting, such as emergency room, physicians have a responsibility to broach the subject and refer the individual to appropriate services.

Disclosure represents the best and worst practices for interacting with patients in these scenarios in order to convey the best possible approach for professionals to take. The game itself makes use of Twine, leveraging the game engine’s capacity to represent branching decisions in order to depict the outcomes of various decisions made by professionals in cases where intimate partner violence is present. While Twine is primarily a text-based medium, the engine has been modified to visually represent various professional settings, as well as depict patients/clients, including their facial expressions. In light of earlier generations of training games which often emphasize clear correct/incorrect binaries, oversimplifying the issue at hand, Disclosure is being designed as a dynamic and variable game capable of producing numerous and complex scenarios that compels players to engage with the specifics of their playthrough and engage earnestly with the material.

Disclosure is being designed for VEGA (Violence, Evidence, Guidance and Action), a government-funded public health initiative in collaboration with medical professionals at University of Toronto/Sick Kids and social service experts at McMaster University.


Article: On the Publishing Methods of Our Time: Mobilizing Knowledge in Game Studies

2015. Web. 

In this article, published in Scholarly and Research Communication, I address issues regarding games scholarship, game development, and cultural relevancy. The article begins by recognizing that game designers and even game scholars themselves have openly asked whether or not videogame academics are irrelevant–see Mitu Khandaker’s   “Toppling the ivory tower: Are videogame academics irrelevant?” Kill Screen, 1(2), 68-71. At the same time scholars such as Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Planned Obsolescence) have implored those in the liberal arts to do more to assert the cultural relevancy of their scholarship. These two issues intersect one another in the realm of scholarly publishing where game scholars could do more to influence game designers, engage with the public, and assert the relevancy of game studies and design from an arts perspective by writing more accessible scholarship intended for a wider audience.

I go onto to submit First Person Scholar (FPS), a middle-state publication based in the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo, as an model for engaging in such public scholarship. I detail how FPS has reached beyond the traditional scope of game studies to engage a wider audience and assert a new degree of relevancy for the game scholar.

Related Conference Papers:

  • “On the Publishing Methods of Our Time: Mobilizing Knowledge in Game Studies.” Sustaining Partnerships to Transform Scholarly Production. Whistler, B.C. January 2015.