Title: Playing for Change: Crafting Creative Intersections Between Social Justice, Non-Fiction Storytelling and Game Design
In this talk, I will present a collection of my work as a theorist-practitioner working at the intersection of game design, documentary, anti-oppression theory, and social justice activism. A set of these projects represents my work with the design collective I co-founded, Take Action Games (TAG). In partnership with not-for-profit entities, documentary filmmakers, and non-governmental organizations, TAG implements design practice to create game-centric interventions that extend its partners’ existing efforts and methods to effect social change. These collaborations have revealed lessons about research and production methods that are adaptive, eclectic, reflective, and critical yet also practical and amenable to a range of contract-based and semi-commercial studio contexts. Drawing from a range of domains such as Theatre of the Oppressed, non-fiction storytelling, and emerging concepts and practices of transmedia and worldbuilding, I will argue for the transformative potential of collaborative mediamaking that synthesizes diverse disciplines in order to not only tackle complex and emotionally-charged issues, but also move culture toward social equity and a participatory ethic.
Susana Ruiz is a doctoral candidate in the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is an artist and scholar whose work traverses the intersections of cinema, games, art, ethics and activism. Much of this work takes place via the studio she 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. She has served as advisory board member for Games for Change, is a USC Provost’s Fellow, and recently received the USC Ph.D. Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed on doctoral candidates at USC. She holds a BFA in Studio Art Practice from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and an MFA in Interactive Media and Games from the University of Southern California.
Presented by the Film & Digital Media Department and the Arts Division.
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