I’m a Chicago-based Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University. My dissertation looks at queer video games & queer and transgender histories of software and computing. I’m also a graphic designer and game designer.

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 two-year Game Changer Chicago Design Lab Research Fellowship.

I’m designing and developing a video game called 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. I also work as the Lead Artist and Graphic Designer for ArriBot, an educational board game company.

I have presented my research at conferences including the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference, Console-ing Passions, the Queerness in Games Conference, at the Ordinary Media Workshop, the Queer Places, Practices and Lives Conference, and the Queer Temporalities and Media Aesthetics Workshop. I have also been invited to speak on panels about race, queerness, gender, video games and social media at the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia College Chicago and Northwestern University.

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 Press, Publishers 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.

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Editorial & Writing

Examples of my published writing can be read below.

“I Would Grow My Hair to Cover the City,” a personal essay published on Autostraddle about my complicated relationship to gender, the length of my hair, my grandfather, and family belonging. The essay was presented at Autostraddle’s yearly conference, A-Camp 5.0.

“Estranged: How I Fell In Love With A Girl And Lost My Family,” an essay published on Autostraddle that was met with a great deal of critical response, including reposts and reblogs by Dan Savage of Savage Love and Everyday Feminism.

“That’s Not Who I Am: Calling Out and Challenging Stereotypes of Asian Americans, an article on Autostraddle that examines stereotypes of Asian Americans in TV, film and popular culture. The article was reposted as a featured article on Everyday Feminism.

“Supreme Court Considers Rejecting Affirmative Action From College Admissions Process,” an article that looks at America’s history of affirmative action and the still-changing definition of who is a “minority” in the college admissions process.

“The Malaya Project and Liberating Images of Queer Filipino America,” an article about Los Angeles’s Malaya Project and its liberating images and video of queer Filipin@s in America.

The Doctor Will See You Now

The Doctor Will See You Now is a game that I am working on as a Research Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Game Changer Design Lab. I am the project lead and lead artist working with fellow game designer Chris Russell. We are implementing the game in Unity, and I will be keeping updates for our game here as we move forward!

The Doctor Will See You Now Pitch Images v2 (16to9 Resolution)

The Doctor Will See You Now is a game about queer experience, and what it might feel like to be a person who feels difficulty or discomfort moving through institutional spaces that others might find “easy” or “comfortable” to move through. The game questions how privilege (feelings of control, adequacy, comfort, power) work, sometimes invisibly, inside of the way we interact with game systems, particularly single-player video games. The game was inspired by my experience of navigating the healthcare system as a queer and genderqueer Asian-American woman.

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TDWSYN presents the experience of what it might feel like to be a genderqueer or gender non-normative person navigating through institutional spaces, examining feelings of belonging and estrangement, comfort and discomfort, invisibility and hypervisibility, and how these experiences of disempowerment in the healthcare system can be intersectional across race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, citizenship and age.

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Some levels in TDWSYN will have straightforward and anticipatable mechanics and goals; some levels will be less obvious, creating situations in which the player will experience duration, question her purpose in the game, and experience limitation in her control over the game.

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The goal of TDWSYN is to create an experience that will surprise the player and allow her to question the relationship she might have to the game space as well as the spaces that she might move through in her everyday life, examining how moving through institutional spaces might work differently for different individuals.

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I’m looking forward to going on this game design journey with you over the next few months. ❤