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avatar for Matthew Coopilton (formerly Hamilton)

Matthew Coopilton (formerly Hamilton)

University of Southern California
PhD Candidate
Los Angeles
I am a researcher, game designer, and teacher. I am currently a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California, studying critical digital literacies and gaming; I also took game design MFA classes in the USC Games program.

My current work is in the following areas. If you're interested in any of these, let's chat!

1) Critical Game Literacies for Critical Speculative Imagination. For my dissertation, I'm researching a Critical Game Jam I organized, where young adults use game design to prototype liberated futures. This is informed by a framework for Afrofuturist development that my advisor Dr. Brendesha Tynes and I have written with colleagues; it is a theory and design lens for supporting young Black people in learning and developing with technology. The game jam included a playtest of Kai UnEarthed (https://www.kaiunearthed.com/), one of the first abolitionist video games. Friends and I designed it based on participatory world-building I did with former students, imagining unpoliced futures as part of Seattle's movement against youth incarceration. In the game, the characters fall in love in the reclaimed ruins of a youth jail.

2) Critical Race Digital Literacies. I am working as a project manager and data analyst on the first nationally representative survey of adolescent critical race digital literacies, with Dr. Tynes and colleagues. We are studying young peoples' skills and needs around navigating race-related disinformation and propaganda. I created an assessment of critical game literacy skills that we included within this survey.

3) Mindful Gaming. I have been working with Tracy Fullerton and Matt Farber, helping design a new curriculum around Tracy's award-winning game Walden (https://www.waldengame.com/). As part of this work, I did HCI research with Tracy and Betsy DiSalvo on how players experience Walden and Headspace. Based on our findings, a colleague and I created a mindful study toy called LoFi Hip Hop Worlds to Study In. Check it out in the arcade if you want a chill break from the conference!

I taught Language Arts, Social Studies, and spoken-word poetry for 10 years at a program re-engaging students on the verge of dropping out of high school. I have a Masters in Theological Studies from Notre Dame (focused on social ethics), and a Masters in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University. 

I am non-binary, and people refer to me with the pronouns "they" and "them". I love making and playing queer games, so if you're a queer designer or scholar, let's connect!