Whitney Pow

I write about queer games and queer and transgender histories of software and computing.

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Hello, I'm Whitney Pow

I’m a Chicago-based Ph.D. candidate and a member of the Presidential Society of Fellows at Northwestern University. I’m also a graphic designer and game designer. I am a queer media studies scholar and my current research focuses on queer games and queer and transgender histories of software and computing.

My research has been generously supported by Northwestern University’s Presidential Fellowship, The Sexualities Project at Northwestern’s Dissertation Fellowship, The Strong National Museum of Play’s Research Fellowship, and the University of Chicago’s Game Changer Chicago Design Lab Research Fellowship. I am also a Device Lab Fellow and Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Librarian at The Knight Lab, Northwestern University’s emerging technology lab.

My areas of interest and teaching expertise include:

  • Queer game studies, video game studies, and game design

  • Queer media studies, inclusive of queer TV, film, new media, and interactive media

  • Intersectional approaches to the history and analysis of media and technology, specifically looking at gender, race, and sexuality as deeply and irrevocably intertwined with media history

  • Digital media, software, and histories of games and technology

  • Trans (transgender) history and theory, and trans of color critique

  • Queer theory and queer of color critique

  • Critical race theory and decolonial theory

  • Film history, theory and analysis

  • Television history, theory and analysis

Presentations & Publications

My research has been published in ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, The Velvet Light Trap (published by the University of Texas Press), and In Media Res. My work is also forthcoming in the Oxford University Press reader, Women’s Lives, Multicultural Perspectives, Seventh Edition.

I have presented or will present my research at conferences including the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA), the Special Interest Group for Computing, Information, and Society (SIGCIS) at the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Console-ing Passions, the Queerness in Games Conference, the Ordinary Media Workshop, and the Queer Temporalities and Media Aesthetics Workshop, among others. 

I have been invited as a speaker, guest lecturer, and panelist to speak about about race, queerness, gender, and video games at the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, the University of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northwestern University.

Game Design

I was commissioned to design a video game titled Digital TV Breakfast in response to foundational transgender game designer and programmer Jamie Faye Fenton’s 1978 glitch art piece, Digital TV Dinner. My game is a part of the Chicago art exhibition, Chicago New Media 1972-1992, curated by Jon Cates, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of chicago, and organized by the Video Game Art Gallery and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Gallery 400.

Digital TV Breakfast will be exhibited in the international new media art festival, Ars Electronica 2019 in Linz, Austria as a part of the art exhibition Chicago New Media 1972-1992.

I am the Lead Artist and Graphic Designer at ARRiBot Game Design, an educational board game company that makes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) games for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. I designed the game company website, and cards, boards, print and promotional materials for games including:

  • Scrap Titans, a game about the US scrap recycling industry made in partnership with the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries, Incorporated, or ISRI,

  • Project Stormfury, a game about hurricane disaster preparation,

  • Destructive Interference, a game about the physics of sound waves, and

  • Quest for Mars, a game about Mars and the Mars Rover.

With the support of the University of Chicago's Game Changer Research Fellowship, I designed and developed a video game titled The Doctor Will See You Nowwhich was showcased at the Different Games Conference at New York University and at a panel titled Chicago Made Video Games as New Media Art at the Adler Planetarium’s Adler After Dark series.

Non-Academic Work & Outreach

I’m a former Contributing Editor and writer at Autostraddle, and I’m the in-house graphic designer for Literary Death Match. I have worked as a writer, editor and graphic designer for organizations including The Feminist PressPublishers Weekly and the Asian American Writers Workshop.

I’ve served as a speaker, organizer and staff member at Autostraddle’s annual conference, A-Camp

I also appear in the Badass Feminist Coloring Book by Ijeoma Oluo.

Find and follow me on Twitter @whitneypow.