Jessica E. Tompkins

Ph.D. Candidate & Media Living Learning Center Director

Contact Information

  • Office:
    Franklin Hall
  • Office Hours:
    By appointment
  • Email:
  • Website:
    WordPress Blog

  • Biography

    Jessica received a Master’s degree in Media Arts in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, Columbia in May 2014.  As an enthusiastic video game player, she is specifically interested in game studies and research. Jessica's M.A. thesis qualitatively explored historical representations in video games in service of learning, persuasion, and awareness. In this pursuit, she designed and developed a beta-version of a historically-contextualized game using Unity.

    Broadly, Jessica studies video games and gaming as gendered practices brought about by the persistent gender gap in the commercial industry, as well as within the larger social structure. Her research has explored game development in the context of the global industry; the design process and representations of game characters; as well as the effects of video games on players' self-perception and identity. Specifically, she has conducted experiments to explore how players' identification with game characters effects self-concept. In another project, she discussed how video game fandoms creatively disrupt dominate codes of gender in games. She has also interviewed video game developers about the character design process.

    In addition to her role as a graduate student at IU, Jessica leads the Game Design special interest group affiliated with IU's Center of Excellence for Women in Technology. She helps plan and implement a variety of workshops to encourage woman's participation in learning game development skills and software within a supportive community. She is also currently serving as the Director of the Media Living Learning Center, a residential community for students interested in media.

    Jessica has shared her research at the International Communication Association annual conference as well as the National Communication Association annual conference. You may view her complete CV here.


    Lynch, T., Tompkins, J. E., van Driel, I., & Fritz, N. (2016). Sexy, strong, and secondary: An analysis of female videogame characters from 1983 to 2014. Journal of Communication. (Impact Factor at time of publication: 3.16).


    Tompkins, J. E. (forthcoming, fall 2017). Heart breakers and life takers: Negotiated readings of military masculinities in Modern Warfare’s fanfiction. In N. Garrelts (Ed.), Responding to Call of Duty: Critical Essays on the Game Franchise. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Press.