Sara M. Grimes

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Information

University of Toronto

Dr. Sara M. Grimes is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Information (iSchool), University of Toronto, where she teaches and researches primarily in the areas of in children’s new media and literature. She recently completed a PhD in Communication at the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. Her research explores children’s evolving relationship with digital media culture and technologies, the rationalization of children’s play within commercialized technological systems, and the political economy of digital games. Sara has an M.A. in Communication from SFU, as well as a B.A.(Hons) in Communication from the University of Ottawa. Sara has published work on intellectual property conflicts in massively multiplayer online games (or MMOGs) (New Media & Society), terms of use contracts in children’s games (The Player’s Realm, McFarland & Company), as well as children’s online culture (with Shade, International Journal of Media and Cultural and Politics; and Chung,Canadian Journal of Communication) and its regulation (International Journal of Communications Law & Policy). Her more recent work has focused on the cultural and political discourses that surround child gamers (with Narine, Communication, Culture & Critique), questions of authorship and affective labour raised by emerging forms of child-generated content (forthcoming), and a theoretical discussion of the technologically mediated "rationalization of play" that occurs within MMOGs co-authored with Andrew Feenberg (The Information Society). Her PhD dissertation examined the various rule systems (technological, social, political and cultural) contained within popular commercial children’s MMOGs, such as Disney’s Club Penguin and Mattel’s BarbieGirls, in order to explore how design affordances and commercial priorities (re)shape children’s digital play. Sara joined the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto in Summer 2010.

E-mail: smgrimes [at] sfu [dot] ca

Blog: Gamine Expedition

Full CV:


Journal Articles

Narine, Neil. and Grimes, Sara M. (2009) "The Turbulent Rise of the Child Gamer: Public Fears and Corporate Promises in Cinematic and Promotional Depictions of Children’s Digital Play."Communication, Culture & Critique, 2(3). pp.319-338. Link

Grimes, Sara M. and Andrew Feenberg (2009) “Rationalizing Play: A Critical Theory of Digital Gaming.” The Information Society,  25(2). pp. 105-118. Link

Grimes, Sara M. (2008). Saturday Morning Cartoons Go MMOG. Media International Australia (126), Special Issue: Beyond Broadcasting: TV for the Twenty-first Century. Link

Grimes, Sara M. (2008). Kids’ Ad Play: Regulating Children’s Advergames in the Converging Media Context. International Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 8 (12). pp.162-178.  Download

Grimes, Sara M. (2007). Researching the Researchers: Market Researchers, Child Subjects and the Problem of "Informed" Consent. International Journal of Internet Research Ethics 1(1). Download

Consalvo, M., Grimes, S. M. and H. Kennedy (2007). “Commentary and Criticism: Digital Games and Gender.”  Feminist Media Studies 7(1). pp. 97-110. Link

Grimes, Sara. M. (2006). "Online Multiplayer Gaming: A Virtual Space for Intellectual Property Debates?"   New Media & Society 8(6): 969-990. Link

Chung, G. and S. M. Grimes (2005). Data Mining the Kids: Surveillance and Market Research Strategies in Children’s Online Games. Canadian Journal of Communication 30(4): 527-548. Download

Grimes, Sara. M. & Shade, Leslie R. (2005). "Neopian Economics of Play: Children’s Cyberpets and Online Communities as Immersive Advertising in" International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics 1(2):181-198. Link

Grimes, S. M. (2004). "Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy: by Janet Wasko" [Book Review], Canadian Journal of Communication 29(2):238-240. Download

Grimes, Sara M. (2003) "All About the Blog" ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 33(1). Download

Book Chapters

Grimes, S. M. (2007). "Terms of Service, Terms of Play in Children’s Online Gaming." In Williams, Patrick and Jonas Heide Smith (Eds.) The Players’ Realm: Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming, pp.33-55. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Link

Other Contributions

Grimes, Sara M. (2009) "The Hidden Playground" The Escapist (227), November 10. Link

Grimes, Sara M. (2009) "Obsolescence Pending: Rating the ESRB" The Escapist (223), October 13.Link

Grimes, Sara M. (2008) “I’m a BarbieGirl, In a BarbieGirl World.” The Escapist (165), September 2.Link

Grimes, Sara M. (2008) “Lego, Star Wars, and the Rationalization of Play.” CPROST Digest, issue 19. URL:

Grimes, Sara M. (2008) “Hit’em Hard and Make’em Bleed.” The Escapist (173), October 28. URL:

Grimes, Sara M. (2007). "Expanding Universes." The Escapist (111), August 21:

Grimes, Sara M. (2007). “Mining the Game.” The Escapist (86), February 27: 13-15.

Presentations and Lectures

Participant in the Graduate Student Symposium at State of Play VI. Hosted by New York Law School, June 18-21, 2009, New York, NY.

“The Digital Child at Play.” Invited public lecture hosted by Infoscape Research Lab at Ryserson University, September 18, 2008, Toronto, Ontario.

"Deconstructing the Girl Gamer: From the Girls’ Games Movement to Rule of Rose." Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. June 4-6, 2008.

“The Exploitation of Children’s Affective Labour in Corporately Owned Virtual Worlds." Joint Annual Meetings of Law and Society Association and Canadian Law and Society Association. Hilton Bonaventure, Montreal, Quebec. May 29-June 1, 2008.

“Branding Children’s Play: Mapping the Commercial Convergence of Media, Toys and Gaming in Virtual Worlds for Kids.” Annual Summit of the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), Judge Baker’s Children Centre, Harvard University, Wheelock College, Boston, MA.[Invited keynote presentation]. April 3-5, 2008. 

“Saturday Morning Cartoons Go MMOG: Children’s television and the construction of the player as commodity.” paper presented at the Union for Democratic Communications (UDC) Annual Conference: Enclosure, Emancipatory Communication, and the Global City. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia. Oct. 25-28, 2007.

“Saturday Morning Cartoons Go MMOG: Cross-media integration, branded play and the migration of children’s television to massively multiplayer online gaming.” paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) Annual Conference 8: Let’s Play. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia. Oct. 18-20, 2007 

"Researching the Researchers: Market Research, Child Subjects and the Problem of ‘Informed’ Consent." Trials & Tribulations: Negotiating Research Methods in Cyberspace Symposium, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. November 10-11, 2006.

“Reconfiguring Regulation Panel.” Converging in Parallel: Linking Communications Research and Policy in Emerging Canadian Scholarship, McGill University,  Montreal, Quebec. November 9-10, 2006.

"Violent Video Games Debate." Invited presentation, Knowledge: States of Nature, Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec. November 8, 2006.

"Modernity’s Child at Play: Digital Gaming as Productive Leisure or Wasted Time," paper presented at the Cultural Studies Association (CSA) Conference, Arlington, Virginia, Co-presented with A. Narine. Apr. 19-22, 2006. 

"Playtime is over! Children’s digital gaming as productive leisure or wasted time" paper presented at the Popular Culture Association (PCA) National Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, Co-presented with A. Narine. Apr. 13-16, 2006. 

“Issues in Digital Game Studies.” Guest lecture, CMNS 253: Introduction to Information Technology: The New Media, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia. June 26, 2006.

"No Fair!": Intellectual Property and Cultural Participation in Children’s Online Gaming” paper presented at Changing Views: Worlds in Play Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) International Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia. June 16-20, 2005.

”It’s SO Much Fun”: Online Games as Child’s Play in Toontown, Neopets and” paper presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA) National Conference, San Diego, California. March 23-26, 2005.

“Children’s Online Culture.” Guest lecture, CMNS 320: Children, Media and Culture, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia.  February 24, 2005.

“The Video Games Industry.” Guest lecture, CMNS 230: Cultural Industries, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia. February 3, 2005.

"Cool Hunting the Kids’ Digital Playground: Datamining and the Privacy Debates in Children’s Online Entertainment Sites”,Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Conference Proceedings, Waikola, Hawaii. Co-presentation with G. Chung. January 3-6, 2005.

"The Political Economy of Online Gaming: A Virtual Space for Intellectual Property Debates?" paper presented at the Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Winnipeg, Manitoba. June 3-7, 2004.

"You Shoot Like A Girl!": The Female Protagonist in Action-Adventure Video Games", paper presented at Level Up!: Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) International Conference, Utrecht, The Netherlands, November 4-6, 2003.