Susan Bonner she/her

Designer | Faculty | Researcher | Leader


I lead collaborative media production projects that involve a wide range of faculty, staff, students, field experts, schools, and organizations. These endeavors aim to help teachers create engaging classrooms and community advocates move populations beyond reaction to action.

Accessible, universal, and inclusive design lies at the heart of my teaching, my art, my design, and the work I produce.

I am serious about facilitating an inclusive learning and working environment that supports and welcomes all who participate, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, or ability.

I am pursuing the gamification of social-emotional coping skills development in young children.

The 4th-grade bet that changed my life.

I bet my dad that I could give up watching television for an entire year. I asked for the reward to be the latest in home computing technology, the Apple II. My best friend Suzy had one.

So, instead of T.V., in 1981, I read a lot of "choose your own adventure" books, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I rode my bike, roller-skated, and hung out with this gang in Webster, NY (pictured below). That's retro me, top right, thinking about how cool it would be to travel the Oregon Trail with my friends.

After sticking it to "The Man" (my dad), I opened the glossy box, complete with a rainbow 64, which gleefully expressed its 64K memory. I plugged it in and immediately started playing Oregon Trail. I thought it would be fun, like Suzy promised. But soon. I found that I died from dysentery. But in this 64K life, I could start again, only to waste days killing buffalo for sport. Why?

This game prompted so many questions: Why have I died? What is dysentery? Why can't I live? What happens when settlers kill for sport? What about the indigenous peoples whose land we were going to claim?

I soon found my new life quest would be to find ways to make games that compel people to fight injustice, extinction, and climate change.

The Commodore 64

with 64K Memory

The Apple ][ was sold out, so I received my Commodore 64 in 1982 and opened a portal to a new adventure in computer art, games, and media. I haven't stopped playing and learning since.

The Game Oregon Trail

Like everyone, I too died of dysentery.

IRL (in real life)

On a run to the grocery store.

I don't think I ever stopped playing in real life, but it's been a while since I broke out the roller skates. And Suzy? She was playing the typing game on the Apple II, it was actually a really fun learning experience. I am choosing my own adventure. If you would like to jump on my tandem bike let me know, we might be able to get really serious about play.