Game Diversity Summit

The 3rd American University Diversity in Games Summit

In our 3rd day-long diversity summit event we aim to bring together motivated passionate,  people ready to make an impact in games. Our program is planned to facilitate discussion about both participation and representation of diverse communities in games. Through presentations, dialogue and showcase we aim to support the game community in furthering diversity initiatives.

The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that African American youth between the ages of 8 and 18 play over 30 minutes more per day than white youth, while Hispanics play an average of 10 minutes more. Yet only 3 percent of video game characters are recognizably Hispanic. Native Americans and biracial characters are almost non-existent. While just over 10 percent of characters are African Americans, those characters are mostly athletes and gangsters.  

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of 30 % in employment demand for game design careers by 2018. The diversity summit aims to support the increase in diverse representation and participation in games and the game industry, 

About the Summit

Hosted by awarded game designer and researcher, Lindsay Grace, the third Diversity Summit in Games is organized by the School of Communication and the the American University Game Lab.

In a recent study published by New Media and Society characters in over 150 blockbuster video games were analyzed through a "virtual census" of the characters' demographics. Researchers found what they refer to as "a systematic over representation of white adult males, and a systematic under representation of females, children, Native Americans, Hispanics, and the elderly." Why is there such pervasive under representation of diverse populations? It certainly doesn't have to do with catering to demand; the Entertainment Software Association finds that only 32% of gamers are between the age of 18-35, and that 45% of gamers are female. Race does not play a major factor in whether or not one participates in video games (though it certainly plays a factor in what games one chooses to play). The New Media and Society study finds that the trends of under representation in video game characters reflect trends of under representation in video game developers. Over 80% of developers are white males.

Until the industry becomes more inclusive, these statistics will remain unchanged.

The Diversity in Games Summit offers a day long workshop for those interested in joining the industry to impel change. The event is open to designers, developers, academics and others who want to discuss how to increase diversity accross race, gender, orientation, religion and more.

This is a free event, by application only. Out of town attendees are encouraged to stay at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase for a discounted cost . Online reservations can be made by visiting

September, 17 2016. 10 am to 4 pm.

Forman Theater, McKinley Building @ American University's main campus. Parking is free on campus.


Twitter: @GamesForGoodAU Twitter



10:00 AM


Breakfast & Registration


Forman Theatre, McKinley


10:15 AM


Jeffrey Rutenbeck, Dean,  School of Communication


Forman Theatre, McKinley


10:30 AM


Keynote Address and Q&A



Forman Theatre, McKinley


12:00 noon




Media Innovation Lab, McKinley


1:00 PM


Showcase of Games (ends at 3:00 PM)

Small Group Working Sessions
Josh McCoy, Assistant Professor: Game Development Jobs & Simulation

Lindsay Grace, Associate Professor: Bridging the Gap between Computer Science & Art 

Chris Totten, Game Artis in Residence: Game Arts & Portfolio Review

Benjamin Stokes, Assistant Professor: Community Engagemenet and Games for Change

Bob Hone: Running a game company

McKinley Foyer

Media Innovation Lab (MIL), McKinley



3:00 PM

4:00 PM

Discussion and Next Steps

Closing Remarks & Reception
Lindsay Grace, Director, American University Game Lab and Studio


Media Innovation Lab,  McKinley


Workshop Leader Bios

Lindsay Grace

Lindsay Grace is an associate professor at American University. He directs the AU Game Lab and Studio. His game designs have received awards and recognition from the Games for Change Festival, Meaningful Play Conference , ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community and others. He has published more than 30 papers, articles and book chapters on games in the last 5 years. His creative work has been selected for showcase in more than seven countries and 12 states. Lindsay's career includes teaching 80+ courses over 10 years and more than 30+ presentations in Asia, the Americas and Europe. As the former Armstrong Professor at Miami University, he lead a top 25 game design program as ranked by Princeton Review. There he also founded the Persuasive Play Lab, a studio and research group for the production and analysis of games to change people's interests, activities and opinions. In 2013 his game, Wait, was selected for the 10th Anniversary Games for Change Festival's Hall of Fame, as one of the 5 best games for social impact in the last decade. Lindsay has served industry as an independent consultant, web designer, software developer, entrepreneur, business analyst and writer.

Josh McCoy
Assistant Professor: Game Development Jobs & Simulation 

Josh McCoy is a game developer, computer scientist and cross-disciplinary researcher whose work lies at the confluence of game technology, social science, artificial intelligence and design. His goal is to create playable experiences that communicate to broad audiences and critically address the challenges present in our society while expanding the boundaries of technology. The most recent products of his research involve combining artificial intelligence techniques with social science to create meaningful, responsive and socially engaging game experiences.

He was a lead on the experimental video game Prom Week, a game that enables a new level of social interaction between characters via an artificial intelligence system that leverages social science to make social behavior playable. This work has been nominated for the Technical Excellence award in the Independent Games Festival and an IndieCade award. Additionally, his research has been used in a DARPA-funded project to enable trainees to engage socially responsive characters with full-bodied interaction for the purpose of teaching good stranger behavior to soldiers in foreign lands. 

Chris Totten
Game Arts & Portfolio Review 

    Chris Totten, game artist in residence, is an independent game developer and founder of Pie For Breakfast Studios. He is also the chair of the Washington DC chapter of the International Game Developers Association. Totten is an active writer in the game industry, with articles featured on, GameCareerGuide, and Gamasutra as well as two books: Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity (Wiley 2012) and An Architectural Approach to Level Design (CRC, 2014.) He has also spoken at GDC China, Dakota State University's Workshop on Integrated Design in Games, East Coast Game Conference, and Games For Change. He has a Masters Degree in Architecture from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC..

    Benjamin Stokes
    Community Engagemenet and Games for Change

    Benjamin Stokes is a civic media scholar and game designer. He is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication, and at the AU Game Lab. Previously, he co-founded Games for Change, the movement hub for advancing social change with games. At the MacArthur Foundation prior to academia, Benjamin was a program officer in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. Benjamin has also worked at the UC Berkeley School of Information as a postdoctoral scholar in data science. Design experience in civil society includes leading teams at NetAid/Mercy Corps in global citizenship education. 


    Bob Hone
    Running A Game Company

    Bob Hone has had distinguished, award-winning careers in engineering, journalism, as well as interactive and videogame design and production. As the founder and Creative Director of Red Hill Studios, Bob oversaw the design and production of mobile educational apps, online educational games, health games, museum exhibitions, educational game research, and broadcast television documentaries. He was the lead designer of the acclaimed Painting With Time iPad app (Editor’s Choice Children’s Technology Review, Parent’s Choice Award) and other Red Hill apps including Painting with Time: Climate Change (Yale Forum Top Climate Change app 2012), and BeThere: San Francisco (an innovative virtual presence app).



Here are a few images from the 2nd American University Games and Diversity summit, which took place in October 2014 event. The first of our summits , was held in March 2014


Please complete the application to participate in this workshop.

If you want to learn about last year's summit, visit