Dr. Sara M. Grimes is Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and Semaphore Labs, as well as Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching are centred in the areas of children’s digital media culture(s) and critical theories of technology, with a focus on digital games. Her published work explores the commercialization of children’s play culture and creative expression, discussions of intellectual property and fair dealing in child-specific digital environments, as well as the legal and ethical dimensions of marketing to children online. Her scholarship appears in numerous academic journals, edited collections and readers, and has been presented at multiple national and international conferences. Community outreach forms a core part of Dr. Grimes’s professional practice, and she regularly speaks at media/cultural industry conferences, participates in policy consultations, and engages in community outreach. Most recently, Professor Grimes was Principal Investigator on a multi-year, cross-sector, transnational research collaboration called the Kids DIY Media Partnership, which identified key opportunities and challenges associated with children’s “do-it-yourself” media platforms, and investigated their implications for children’s creativity, learning, cultural rights, and well-being
Professor Grimes is Principal Investigator of the Kids DIY Media Partnership (2013-present), a SSHRC-funded, cross-sector, transnational research collaboration. The overall goal of the project is to build a better understanding of the technologies, users and stakeholder interests involved in children’s online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and user-generated content (UGC) media phenomena, and to produce an inclusive, ethics-based, empirically and theoretically grounded set of best practices and policy recommendations.
She is also Principal Investigator of the Children Making Games Study (2016-2017), a Connaught-funded investigation of children’s experiences with user-generated content (UGC) games, which is focused on better understanding how children use such platforms for creative expression and negotiate their designs and structural features.
Professor Grimes was also Principal Investigator of the recently completed SSHRC-funded Playing at Making Project (2013-2016), which explored both the opportunities and challenges associated with children’s game-making and game-related user-generated content, with a focus on examining how available tools can afford inclusion of marginalized children. It also addressed a gap in commercial and legal structures that have yet to adapt to the notion of children as direct participants in digital content creation.
Grimes, S.M. “Penguins, Hype and MMOGs For Kids: A Critical Re-Examination of the 2008 “Boom” In Children’s Virtual Worlds Development.” Games and Culture 11 (2016): 1-21. First published online before March 29. Accessed November 27, 2016. doi: 10.1177/1555412016638755 (OnlineFirst).
—. “Playing By The Market Rules: Promotional Priorities And Commercialization In Children’s Virtual Worlds.” Journal of Consumer Culture 15.1 (2015).: 110-134.
— & Fields, D.A. “Children’s Media Making, But Not Sharing: The Potential and Limitations of Child-Specific DIY Media Websites.” Special issue on Making Media Participatory, Media International Australia 154 (2015): 112-122.
—. “Little Big Scene: Making and Playing Culture in Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet.” Cultural Studies 29.3 (2015): 379-400.
—. “Configuring the Child Player: Virtual Worlds Design and the Politics of Children’s Technologies.” Science, Technology & Human Values 40.1 (2015): 126-148.
—. “Persistent and Emerging Questions About the Use of Terms of Service Contracts in Children’s Digital Media Sites and Platforms.” University of British Columbia Law Review 46.3 (2013): 681-736.
— & Feenberg, A. “Rationalizing Play: A Critical Theory of Digital Gaming.” Information Society 25.2 (2009): 105-118.
Selected Book Chapters
Grimes, S.M. “Rescue the Princess: The Videogame Princess as Prize, Parody and Pro-Tagonist.” In Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities, M. Forman-Brunel & R. Hains, eds. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2015: 65-89.
—. “Children and Online Games.” Online Gaming, A. Kerr & J. Ivory eds. International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, R. Mansell & P. Hwa Ang, eds. Somerset, N.J.: Wiley Blackwell/International Communication Association. 2015.
—. “Child-Generated Content: Children’s Authorship and Interpretive Practices in Digital Gaming Cultures.” In Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online, R.J. Coombe & D. Wershler, eds. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2014: 336-45.
— & Feenberg, A. “Critical Theory of Technology.” In The SAGE handbook of digital Technology Research, Price, S., C. Jewitt & B. Brown, eds. Los Angeles, CA/London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2013: 121-129.
—. “From Advergames to Branded Worlds: The Commercialization of Digital Gaming.” In Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture, M.P. McAllister & E. West, eds. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013: 386-99.
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Chelsea Russell. “Monsters and Machines: Reframing Horror Video Games Through Representations of Technology. In progress.
As Committee Member
Averie MacDonald. “New Media and “News” in the Lives of Young Canadians.” 2014. OISE, University of Toronto Master’s of Arts.
Maaz Nasir “The Effect of Collaborative Games on Group Work.” 2013. Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto.
Virginia “ginger” Coons. “Colour Standardization: Its Past and A Possible Future.” 2011. Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.