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MSU Video Game Designer Named ‘Human of the Year’

Recognized for her foundational work as an Indigenous video game designer, MSU Assistant Professor Elizabeth LaPensée was selected by the multimedia science and tech publication, Motherboard, as a “Human of the Year,” an honor reserved for a select few individuals who are building a better future for everyone through science and technology.

With its “Humans of the Year” series, Motherboard aims to “focus on a few enterprising individuals in science and tech in particular … whose work has the potential to touch your life and change the world in a positive and novel way…The Humans of the Year share a vision of a better future and a commitment to do their part to construct it.”

 Elizabeth LaPensée

Elizabeth LaPensée

“This is an amazing honor, which I hope brings awareness to the importance of Indigenous-led games,” said LaPensée, who has a dual appointment in the Department of Media and Information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures in the College of Arts & Letters. (See also “Raising Awareness For Indigenous Issues.”)

LaPensée, who is both Anishinaabe and Métis and whose children are also Beaver Lake Cree, is known for her work with Indigenous communities, work that is designed to have a social impact and to pass along the language, history, and culture of those communities.

An artist, designer, and writer for video games, comics, and animations, LaPensée has received a number of notable awards this past year for her work.

In March, she was presented the 2017 Serious Games Community Leadership Award from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Serious Games Special Interest Group, which is awarded to a member of the game community who displays exceptional commitment to advocacy and reaching new communities through serious games. And her latest video game, Thunderbird Strike, recently won Best Digital Media Work at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the largest Indigenous film and media arts festival in the world.

For more information, read LaPensée’s Human of the Year profile.

  • via the College of Arts & Letters website
  • PHOTO: A scene from Thunderbird Strike. Image: Elizabeth LaPensée

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