Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe with family from Bay Mills, Métis, and Irish. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.
Most recently, she designed When Rivers Were Trails (2019), a 2D adventure game following a displaced Anishinaabe during allotment in the 1890’s, which won the Adaptation Award at IndieCade 2019. 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 2017. She also designed and created art for Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water. Her work also includes designing 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). In addition to creating curriculum for the award-winning Skins Workshops, she has run game development workshops since 2015 with Indigenous partners including the United Indian Students in Higher Education, Aboriginal Youth Science Exchange Camp at Algoma University, Urban Native Youth Association, Native Girls Code, Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education, Salish Kootenai College, and the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program.