I’m interested in software – How it’s made, who makes it, and why software take the forms it does. I want to better understand how our lives are shaped by ubiquitous technologies – from our smart phones and Facebook pages, to ATM machines and Xboxes.  Most of my work touches on surveillance and new media. I’m especially interested in video games and questions such as:

  • Why do so many of the games I love feature space marines and sniper rifles?
  • Can Facebook games, mobile games, and gamification be evil?
  • Are game developers the most exploited knowledge workers of this century?
  • Can we use games to solve real world problems like energy crises or to teach social skills?
  • Why are game publishers collecting data on our play habits? What are the implications of surveilling play?

At heart I’m interdisciplinary. I work directly with game developers and teach in a Sociology & Legal Studies Program, as well as a Digital Media Program. My research draws from Political Economy, Communications, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Media and Cultural Studies, and Science and Technology Studies. My first degree was in Criminology.

Official bio:

Jennifer R. Whitson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo, as well a faculty member at the Stratford campus. She received her PhD in Sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is an adjunct researcher at the Technoculture Art and Games Research Centre at Concordia University in Montreal and with the Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab in Ottawa. Her current research interests include studio studies, social influences on game development processes, gamification, and governance in online domains. You can find her work in a number of edited collections such as The Gameful World, published by MIT Press, in the journals First Monday, Economy & Society, New Media & Society and FibreCulture, and of course, here on this website.

E–mail: jenni[dot]whitson [at] gmail [dot] com

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