Technology frequently marginalizes people from underrepresented and vulnerable groups; more and more, we’re learning how social media platforms, AI systems, machine learning algorithms, video games, etc., can enact, amplify, or perpetuate discrimination based on dimensions of identity such as race, gender, and sexuality. In this talk, I will share several studies within a project that exemplify the methods I use for gathering personal narratives of marginalization and for developing and evaluating empowering games and social technologies. The CARE (coping after racist experiences) project uses interactive narratives to study how people experience, cope with, and seek support for interpersonal racism such as racist microaggressions. I will share qualitative interviews, user testing, and participatory design work that brings people from marginalized backgrounds to the table in designing for a more empowered future. I will end by proposing several promising avenues for future work that extends my work adapting critical race theory to HCI and games research.
Alexandra To is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University jointly appointed in the Art + Design (Games) department in the College of Art, Media, and Design and the Khoury College of Computer Science. Her core research interests are in studying and designing social technologies to empower people in marginalized contexts. She uses qualitative methods to gather counterstories and participatory methods to design for the future. She additionally has extensive experience leading teams of educational game designers and has designed award-winning games. She has received multiple ACM Best Paper awards and published at CHI, UIST, CSCW, CHI Play, ToDiGRA, and DIS. Alexandra is a racial justice activist, a critical race scholar, and game designer. She received her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. and M.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction and a minor in Asian American Studies. In her free time she both DM’s (dungeon-masters) and plays in several D&D campaigns.