[-empyre-] Soraya Murray in 2016

Soraya Murray semurray at ucsc.edu
Tue Jan 12 12:39:59 AEDT 2016

Hello, Empyre!

I’m happy to share my more recent research in digital games, which foregrounds the politics of representation and the signifying practices of games as visual culture. I investigate the ways in which mainstream (dominant) games are thoroughly cultural, not just technical. How do these video games signify forms of difference like race, gender, and nation? In an approach that considers games as a quintessential form of visual culture within a historical context of advanced capitalism, neoliberalism, post-9/11 anxieties and large demographic shifts within the nation, my recent writing considers games as cultural mirrors for larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition. Arguing that representation in games lies at the frontline of power relations in a manner no less significant than other forms of mass culture, my work of late uses a cultural studies / visual culture studies approach, which is somewhat of a departure from the way games are mostly discussed as entertainment forms, or in terms of technical innovation. (There are, of course, some tremendous exceptions!) For those who may know my earlier research in art, technology, and the global, games are a remarkable flashpoint for all of these concerns, which manifest themselves in novel ways in my object of study.

I have recently shared my research at several conferences including ISEA 2015 in Vancouver, the Canadian Game Studies Association in Ottawa, the History of Gender in Games Symposium in Montreal, and the Queer Games Conference at UC Berkeley. Upcoming presentations will include my panel at College Art Association in Feb 2016 (Washington, DC) called “The Visual Politics of Play: On The Signifying Practices of Digital Games”; a presentation at the New Media Caucus on my recent research on playable media and landscape as ideology; I’m speaking at the University of Texas Tech; Wellesley; and UC Irvine. Perhaps I’ll meet some of you during my travels. 

As a newly minted moderator for the listserv (thanks, Renate and Tim!), I especially look forward to hearing from some of the more silent entities within -empyre. Please do share your latest interests and research— I’m excited to hear what you are all up to. 

All best to you in 2016.


Author Bio:
Professor Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in contemporary art, cultural studies and games. Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history and visual studies from Cornell University, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine. An Assistant Professor in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she is also principal faculty in the Digital Arts & New Media MFA Program, and affiliated with the History of Art & Visual Culture Department, as well as the Center for Games and Playable Media. Her writings are published in Art Journal, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, CTheory, Public Art Review, Third Text, Gamesbeat and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Her two anthologized essays on the military game genre, gender, and race are forthcoming in Identity Matters: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Game Studies, eds. Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (Indiana University Press, TBA) and Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, eds. Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (The MIT Press, 2016).

Soraya Murray, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor 
Film + Digital Media Department
University of California, Santa Cruz

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