Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and analyzes Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University.
Most recently, she designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side-scroller game which won Best Digital Media at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. She also designed and created art for Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water. Her work also includes analog games, such as The Gift of Food (2014), a board game about Northwest Native traditional foods.
Her ongoing contributions were recognized with the Serious Games Community Leadership Award (2017). She was a Research Assistant for Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and continues to collaborate as a Research Affiliate in the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Her dissertation in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia shares experiences from the Indigenous social impact game Survivance (2011). She was a Postdoctoral Associate for the University of Minnesota's Research for Indigenous Community Health Center where she designed the gameful youth health curriculum "Little Earth Strong." She emphasizes the importance of community-led work.
To this end, she runs hands-on workshops in an effort to build capacity for Indigenous-led game development. She created curriculum for the award-winning Skins Workshops developed by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. For over ten years, she has offered workshops to partners including the United Indian Students in Higher Education Youth Day in Portland, Oregon; Aboriginal Youth Science Exchange Camp in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver, British Columbia; Native Girls Code for Gen7 in Seattle, Washington; Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Salish Kootenai College in Polson, Montana.