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bonnie harris-lowe

Gaming the narrative

Driven by a desire improve the representation of women and people of color in video games, Bonnie Harris-Lowe combined her skills in media arts and earned a Magellan Scholarship to research ways to improve character development for the next generation of gamers.

"Being able to explore areas both in and outside of media has challenged me to think in new ways and develop the skills to become a better game designer."

Finding your fit

"I was very uncertain about my future before starting college, in fact, I almost came in undeclared. As I explored media arts at Carolina, I found it gave me the flexibility to do the things I enjoyed while I figured out my major. After my first class, I knew I was in the right place."

"My favorite classes were Rebecca Boyd's intro to screen writing, Northrup Davis's television writing, and Evan Meaney's video game design. Almost all of the classes I took were fun and valuable, but those three really allowed me to explore my own ideas and helped me grow as a storyteller."

Expand your options

Video games have the ability to entertain and the power to educate. And while Bonnie doesn't discount the entertainment, she felt compelled to examine issues surrounding the representation of women and people of color in video games.

Coupled with her media arts coursework, Bonnie continued this focus through her Honors senior thesis and a Magellan grant.

"Receiving the scholarship was an extremely validating experience; I wanted to conduct the study because it reflects an issue that I have struggled with since childhood and that I know deeply affects people like me, but many see as trivial in the grand scheme of things. Being recognized by the Magellan program really solidified my belief in myself and my goals."

Discover new approaches

Researching gamers' perceptions and experiences was only one part of her project. She also produced a docudrama using professional female gamers, survey respondents and her own experiences within the gaming community.

"This was a personal project for me initially because it was inspired by my experiences as a gamer. In fact, it was one of my professors, Rebecca Boyd, who recommended that I use them to inform my decisions about the film."

As someone who grew up creating digital stories, this provided Bonnie with another medium to combine disciplines and express something that is deeply important to her.

"This opportunity has been invaluable. Being able to explore multiple areas both in and outside the media field has challenged me to think in new ways and to see connections across disciplines. I think that mode of thinking is essential to solving the very serious problems that our society is facing today, and I hope to contribute to that in my work as a game designer."

Prepare for the path ahead

Bonnie's ability to develop as a game designer and explore ways to improve narratives and gaming culture have been equally empowering. Her next stop will be the University of Southern California to complete a master’s degree in interactive media.

"Carolina really helped me develop this skill, and I believe I will be a better game designer and a more cognizant person because of it. I hope these lessons will translate to the people who play my games one day."

Will you be the next to drive the future of information, design and computing. Learn more about becoming a Rhodos Fellow.