Kathryn Hymes

RSM Assembly Fellow

Kathryn Hymes is a computational linguist, technologist and game designer. At the Berkman Klein Center’s Institute for Rebooting Social Media, she studies how play can contribute to a better, more humane digital life. Previously she was the head of international product expansion at Slack and an advisor at Airtable. She now works in humanitarian tech at Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Kathryn is a co-founder of Thorny Games (https://thornygames.com/), a design studio that explores the stories behind the language we speak. Her studio is a multi-time “Game of the Year” award winner (Silver Ennie Game of the Year at Gen Con, Tabletop Game Prize at Indiecade Europe). Kathryn regularly speaks about technology, language and play at conferences (SXSW, GDC), at museums (Museum of the Moving Image, Planet Word), and universities (Stanford, University of Chicago). Recent external collaborations include the Aphasia Games for Health initiative (https://www.aphasiagamesforhealth.com/), a co-design project between aphasia community members, speech language pathologists, and game designers. Her writing on language, technology, and music has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired, and The New York Times. Kathryn holds an MS in Computational and Mathematical Engineering from Stanford, an MA in Linguistics from Stanford, and a BS in Math from UCLA. She was a Fulbright Fellow for math in Budapest, Hungary.


Twitter: @katehymes


Assembly Fellowship Project:

It’s hard to talk about hard things online, and the structure and incentives of social media platforms aren’t making these critical discussions any easier. Kathryn Hymes’ project uses principles of game design, in service of conversation design, in service of platform design—informed by principles of close listening, equal participation, and active communication—to develop a framework meant to encourage better conversations online. Kathryn’s time as an RSM Assembly Fellow was spent designing, playtesting, and refining a game pilot which incorporated these elements and aims.