It’s all about play: Cosy and leisure games from indies and archives

  • Ho, X. (Host)
  • Mahli-Ann Butt (Contributor)
  • Jini Maxwell (Contributor)
  • Stephanie Harkin (Contributor)

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic event


There is a rapidly growing community of indie game designers and players who embrace diverse perspectives and creative vision. Gaming is play—from curiosity and cooperation to storytelling and make-believe. This workshop invites you to imagine play beyond the digital into the social with cosy and leisure games. Alongside pluralistic perspectives in queerness, multinationalism, and femininity, cosy and leisure games shine spotlights on activities which are wholesomely gentle, inclusive, non-competitive, and sometimes deeply personal. Through an interactive dialogue and freeform play, we will discuss how humans have been engaged in leisure play.

This workshop is facilitated by game researchers and designers Xavier Ho, Stephanie Harkin, Jini Maxwell and Mahli-Ann Butt who explore queer, feminine, and Post-Gamer cultures in videogames and tabletop games.


Dr Xavier Ho is an award-winning designer focusing on the queer independent games community. He is a Lecturer in Interaction Design at Monash University, Visiting Fellow in Sexuality Studies at the University of Sydney, and alumni of the ABC TOP 5 Arts. He initiated and led the curation of Pride at Play, a public queer exhibition that celebrates thoughtful LGBTQIA+ games in Oceania and the Asia Pacific. The exhibition won the Good Design Award in Social Impact in 2023. Xavier’s creative practice takes a hope-punk approach on the feeling of queerness and what it means to play with pride. He has exhibited at the Victorian Pride Centre, Carlisle Street Arts Space, Library at the Dock Gallery, ICC Sydney, No Vacancy Gallery, and Tin Sheds Gallery. His latest generative installation ‘Infinite Colours’ that celebrates queer joy in games is a 2024 Midsumma Art Prize 2024, and will be exhibited at Superordinary, QLD in June this year.

Dr Stephanie Harkin is a Lecturer in RMIT University's Games Program where she researches feminine digital cultures and history. Her doctoral dissertation on girlhood games involved archival practice to source and preserve overlooked girls’ gaming histories. She coined the term ‘techno-femininity’ to contest the social invisibility of women and femininity in the face of gaming’s dominant masculinity. She is committed to sharing her research to the public and has participated in PAX Australia panels and industry and public journalism outlets including Metro Magazine, GamesHub, and ABC’s Behind the News. In 2023, she was content consultant and writer for Creative Victoria’s Games E-Newsletter.

Jini Maxwell is a playful curator and award-winning videogame critic. They work at ACMI, Australia’s museum of screen culture, where they curated ‘Out of Bounds: Exploring The Limits of Videogames’, and work as lead curator on ACMI’s centrepiece exhibition, the ‘Story of the Moving Image’. They also work on game-related events including ‘Untitled Goose Game Live’ in collaboration with Orchestra Victoria, and ACMI X WIP night, a monthly meetup for screen creatives to showcase their works-in-progress. Independently, Jini co-curates Gay24 Films, a monthly film night showcasing rare, radical and archival queer films, and previously worked as a creative producer at Freeplay Festival.

Dr Mahli-Ann Butt is a Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, researching questions of diversity in gaming culture. She is the Chapter Officer of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) and President of DiGRA Australia. She named 'The Post-Gamer Turn' to map feminist critiques of the marketed hegemonic Gamer identity and its contributions to public discourse. She is the lead chief investigator for the project "AI Ally: Co-Designing Anti-Harassment AI with Girls, Young Women, and Gender-Diverse Individuals", funded by the eSafety Commissioner.
Period27 May 2024
Event titleMelbourne Design Week 2024
Event typeOther
LocationMelbourne, Australia, VictoriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational