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Panel Discussion: From Toxicity to Dignity (How Gamers Create a Communication Space)

Toxicity is so widespread in our online communities, it is hard to imagine a future without it. Multiplayer gaming is no different, but our research points to a solution: gamers are designers! For the love of the game and for self-preservation, many gamers bypass existing tools, and instead stitch together the safe spaces and friendly online communities they need. Utilizing a jumble of communication tools, gamers choose when to hide or reveal layers of their personal identities based on comfort level. Gamers are already designing systems with flexible, activity-based self-representation as a route to safer online communication–as designers and researchers, we can look to them for solutions to toxicity management in online spaces.

From this panel, you will learn:

  • Gamers are already designing for their own dignity in online spaces.
  • As designers, we need to listen to what gamers (and users) are telling us.
  • Identity is at the core of how people communicate in online spaces.
  • Expressing yourself online puts you at risk for marginalization, racism, sexism, and other toxic behavior.
  • Dignity means designing tools to allow for identity expression while ensuring a safe space for our users.
  • Design Anthropology help understand problems users encounter to go beyond surface-level fixes.

Your Speakers

Ben Clark is a UI/UX designer in the DFW area. He is a recent graduate from the University of North Texas, where he completed a BFA in Communication Design and a minor in Art History. Ben is interested in intersectionality and justice in design and cares deeply about creating accessible and affirming user experiences.

Jessica Keller is an applied anthropologist and researcher with a passion for understanding the role identity plays in gaming and entertainment media user experiences. She is an M.S. candidate in applied anthropology at the University of North Texas and currently serves as Co-Chair for the Society for Applied Anthropology Podcast Project. Jessica strives to improve the user experience by centering users’ voices.

Christina Wasson conducts applied research at the intersection of design, technology, and language. After finishing her Ph.D. at Yale, she worked for E-Lab, a consultancy that pioneered the use of ethnography in design. Christina was on the founding steering committees for the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) and the Global Business Anthropology Summit. Since 2001 she has taught design anthropology at the University of North Texas.

Sally Darling is a researcher pursuing her M.S. in applied anthropology at the University of North Texas. Before pursuing an anthropology degree, Sally specialized in operations management for production and retail environments, giving her a firsthand look at the barriers to inclusivity baked into technology used in the workplace. Her current research interests include exploring barriers to digital access and the role of ethnography in digital research. Sally lives in lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son.

Lisa Stocker is a social scientist turned UX researcher. She has more than 10 years experience leading research and strategy projects in academic, non-profit, and industrial sectors. She previously completed an MA in Human Development, and is currently working towards an MA in Interaction Design. Lisa is passionate about utilizing human-centered research to drive design decision-making and positive social change.

Jingwen Wang is a Dallas-based UX designer and information architect. She has worked in China for 7 years as an educational designer. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in Interaction Design at the University of North Texas. Jingwen is passionate about using design to contribute to a more equitable and friendly future, and her recent research interests lie in the multi-dimensional design approaches of age-appropriate design and human-centered design.

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