Susana Ruiz

Assistant Professor, Film & Digital Media
Game design; games as forms of activism and art; animation; participatory culture; social art practice; non-fiction storytelling; theory/practice hybridity; Theatre of the Oppressed; expanded documentary; interaction design; worldbuilding; transmedia production, scholarship and activism.
Phone: 831-502-7564
Office: 149C Communications
Fax: 831-459-1341
Education and Training: 
Ph.D., Media Arts and Practice, University of Southern California
M.F.A., Interactive Media, University of Southern California
B.F.A., Studio Art Practice, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Research Interests: 

Susana Ruiz’s scholarly and creative work is concerned with how the intersection of art practice, game/playful design, and digital storytelling can enable new approaches to social activism, aesthetics, and public pedagogy. Ruiz’s work is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and takes the hybrid form of intertwined theory and practice. The cinematic and the playful drive their practice and the humanistic and the collaborative drive their process.   

Her research interests include “serious,” documentary, and “art” games; ubiquitous and locative experience design; animation; modes of transmedia storytelling, production and activism; game-based learning; empathic, value-centric and participatory design; and the artistic application of theories of social justice such as anti-oppression, intersectionalism, narrative power analysis, and ethical spectacle.

Much of Ruiz’s work takes place via the studio they co-founded, Take Action Games (TAG), which has an evolving portfolio situated at the confluence of game design, participatory culture, social justice, and transmedia storytelling. TAG’s accolades include the Games For Change Audience Award, the Adobe MAX Award for Social Responsibility, Honoree status in the Webby Award Activism Category, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ prestigious Governors Award as part of the mtvU Sudan transmedia campaign.

Ruiz was a member of the first cohort in the newly formed Interactive Media and Games MFA program at USC's School of Cinematic Arts and then a member of the second cohort in its newly formed Ph.D. program in Media Arts + Practice.  She has served as advisory board member for Games for Change, was a USC Provost’s Fellow, and recipient of the University of Southern California’s Ph.D. Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed on doctoral candidates at USC.