Identity Politics Interventions: A Game Jam Workshop with Drs. Lai-Tze Fan and Jon Saklofske

Friday, November 4, 2022 10:00 am - 3:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

We are hosting an unjudged, unranked, private, safe-space, game jam workshop. Please Register via Eventbrite. There will be a small fee of $5 to cover the cost of lunch.

Game-based inquiry can be used as a method of humanities research, communication, and pedagogy, and can also function as a political intervention into conventional humanities theories and practices. Merging these two approaches, this jam workshop explores how simple game environments and tools can be used to encourage builders, players, and publics to pursue broader social, cultural, and interpersonal understandings.

Participants will prototype an interactive and playful experience that features a values-based, self-conscious, and self-critical encounter with social identity formation and identity politics. In this way, the workshop challenges increasingly popular creative methods in research–such as research-creation, critical making, critical design, and practice-based research–to be shaped through a commitment to greater accessibility, equity, diversity, inclusivity, and representation. Radically, we will also imagine how this commitment may take the shapes of play and joy, thinking of intervention not in the dominant terms of breaking down, but rather, in the altruistic ways of building up.

What can designers–and equally, players–learn about identity politics through processes of play and play design? How can play encourage understanding through the representation of others while still avoiding misrepresentation and exploitation? How can ethical values that encourage players to imagine themselves otherwise be encoded into game systems, mechanics, and storied environments?

Posed to participants, these questions encourage the heightened self-reflexivity of designers and players. The workshop supports an active practice of de-centralizing ourselves and being conscious of others in our causes and effects, our decisions and knowledges–in games, and by extension, in everyday decision making and meaning making.

At the end of the workshop, a conclusive sharing session (where participants can share and discuss in-progress game creations with each other) will plant the seeds of important conversations about the ways we think about, design, and play games.


Jon Saklofske, a Literature Professor at Acadia University, is insatiably curious about intersections between media forms and cultural perceptions.  In addition to experimenting with virtual environments and games as tools for academic research, communication and pedagogy, Jon’s other research interests include environmental storytelling in theme parks, values-based game design, alternative platforms for open social scholarship, and the critical potential of feminist war games.

Lai-Tze Fan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo, cross-appointed in English Language and Literature. She researches digital storytelling, systemic inequalities in technological design and labour, media theory and infrastructure, and research-creation and critical design. She makes art across multiple media formats, often about technological sustainability, crafts, and fashion. Fan is an Editor of the open-access journals electronic book review and the digital review.