Amanda In a Nutshell
I love games and I love learning. It turns out that games and the practices that frequently occur around them are good for learning. So that’s what I do research on. More specifically I study games and the game design process, from kids’ first exposure to programming and prototyping to the long-term learning trajectories of experienced game designers. My primary motivation is to get more girls and women interested in games, programming, and design. I really like my work, and I love games.
Amanda In More Detail
I am a dissertator in the Digital Media program in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. My advisor is Constance Steinkuehler, president of the Learning Games Network and co-director of the Games+Learning+Society (GLS) Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
I am fascinated by long-term learning trajectories—how a person’s sociocultural experiences over time affect their interests and their emergent identities in ways that shape the types and kinds of learning they pursue. My research focuses more specifically on engaging girls and women in technology, programming, and game design. My current projects include working with an afterschool game design club, teaching a summer class on e-textiles, and planning out my dissertation research on the learning trajectories of women who work in game design.
I am currently a project assistant at the Games+Learning+Society Center, working on research projects and outreach programs that support teaching youth game design and computer programming in both informal and formal learning spaces. I am also collaborating with Microsoft Research on a project to build online opportunities for girls to engage in interest-driven learning around technology and programming. Other hats that I wear include helping to run the Games+Learning+Society Conference on the shores of Lake Mendota each summer. I edit the proceedings and next year I’ll be taking on the role of co-chair.
Before beginning graduate school, I worked on the press side of the games industry as an editor for IGN’s Green Pixels site, which focused on creating content for mainstream gamers. I also did freelance writing for IGN’s family-focused site, What They Play. One of my projects was a series of interviews with parents who play video games with their children. I also did a series of features on fitness games and families.