Support Mahli-Ann's PhD Research

Hi, I’m Mahli-Ann. I’m a 2nd year PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, working towards a doctorate in Media & Communications and Gender & Cultural Studies. In short, what I do is feminist and diversity research in gaming culture.

What I am trying to raise funds for?
I am raising funds to help me afford study materials, fieldwork, and to present my research at conferences.

Academics are required to publish and attend conferences but they don't get paid for it, which makes it particularly tricky to get by when you're a student from a working class family.

I have been my disabled and elderly father's primary carer since his stroke in 2012. Being a carer makes it difficult to find financial means to do the work I want to do. I believe that diversity work is important. I want to help make gaming more inclusive for everyone. (You can read about the impact of my work below).

My first goal is to attend the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 19-23 March 2018, where I will be able to access and study a vast network of developers I would not otherwise find.

(Presenting at the DiGRA Diversity Workshop in 2017).

Since I am commencing my fieldwork and interviews, it makes 2018 the most timely year to be attending GDC. GDC is the largest meeting of game developers internationally. Attending it would allow me to capture an international perspective of diversity, inclusivity and accessibility initiatives in game development being implemented and practiced.

The ultimate trajectory of my research is to create policies for best games industry practices in regards to diversity. Since 2014’s harassment campaign and its further marginalizing of women, non-binary, queer folk, and people of colour in gaming, diversity initiatives are now more openly seen to be timely and necessary work. Policies which foster inclusivity have been proposed by many sectors of the games industry – some are less or more concrete than others – but their ongoing efficacy has so far gone unstudied. This is where I hope to come in!

What are the costs of attending GDC?
- Flights: $1,568 AUD
- Accomodation (18-24 March): $610.62 AUD
- GDC Conference and Summit Pass : $2622.72 AUD
Total = $4801.34 AUD ($3749.65 USD)
- GoFundMe's 7.25% processing fee + $0.30 per donation

(Me on the morality in games panel at PAX Australia)

More about me
I have lived experience as a woman of colour. I know first hand what it is like to be a woman in games: to be stalked and harassed – or else constantly be under the threat of it; to be working during a game jam and to have someone grab the back of my head and shove it towards a desk.

I know that asking for financial support to conduct feminist research in gaming is also putting myself more at risk. But I also believe that this shows exactly how necessary it is to have feminist research in gaming.

I know what it's like to be the only woman of colour on a panel; I know what it's like to be the only woman of colour in a room full of hundreds of people; I know what it's like to be the only person at a conference with hundreds of panels and be the only one willing to talk about systemic racism.

I know very personally why diversity in games is important, that it's a process, and that there's room for improvement.

I have the lived experiences which gives me access to certain forms of knowledge, and I also have the relevant formal tertiary and postgraduate training in philosophy, media & communications, and gender & cultural studies.

More about my research
In 2016, I was awarded First Class Honours and a grade of 90 for my thesis, 'Girlfriend Mode: Gamer Girlfriends, Support Roles and Affective Labour'. My thesis is open access and has been read over 1000 times .

My research on gender and gaming has been featured in journals such as VICE Magazine and published in Games and Culture. I have been a speaker at public conferences such as PAX Australia and Oz Comic-Con. Since 2015, I have presented over 25 academic papers. By the end of this year, I hope to have 6 academic publications.

By helping me go to GDC, you’re helping me work to contribute to a safer, more diverse gaming community.

I care deeply about advocacy and diversity work. I spend a great amount of time volunteering to help foster games communities. These include volunteering my time as the Digital Games Research Association (DIGRA) student officer, as editorial board member for Press Start, DiGRA’s Diversity Working Group, and having served as part of over 7 conference programme and organising committees.

The tangible impacts of my research have helped advise the heads of IGDA (International Game Developers Association) Sydney and DiGRA Australia about diversity, safety mechanisms, policies, and ways in which the spaces should be curated so as to better support developers, students, academics, conferences, and how community events are run.

While my first goal is to go to GDC, supporting me will also influence my ability to go to other conferences for my research and for my studies.

My study and research goals for 2018

1. Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme (application in submission).

2. DiGRA 2018 (2 extended abstracts and 1 panel submitted: example #1; example #2. I am also volunteering on the programme committee).

3. 4S 2018 (panel submitted).

4. ChiPlay 2018 (application submitted. I am also volunteering as an associate programme chair).

5. Melbourne International Games Week.

Thank you <3
If you could support my research by making a donation and then sharing it with your network, I would greatly appreciate it. I know that money can be tight, so please know that even $5 helps me get closer to my goal! Let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to answer them.

If you've felt that I have been or that my work has been a positive impact, but you don't have the funds to spare, I would really just love to read some kind messages of encouragement and support <3

Thank you for your help and please feel free to share widely!

  • Amy Forbes-Richardson 
    • $25 
    • 55 mos
  • Amy Forbes-Richardson 
    • $60 
    • 56 mos
  • Krister Collin 
    • $350 
    • 56 mos
  • Christopher Lowenthal 
    • $100 
    • 56 mos
  • Giselle Rosman 
    • $40 
    • 56 mos
See all


Mahli-Ann Butt 
Banksia NSW

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.