Santa Cruz Tech Beat


PLAY: Games, Life, and Death


February 17, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

UCSC’s Institute for Humanities Research invites the community to “PLAY: Games, Life, and Death” on March 1, 2016 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

Questions that Matter is a series of public dialogs that brings together UC Santa Cruz scholars and community members to an evening of connection and conversation to explore questions that matter to all of us.

  • Questions that Matter: “PLAY: Games, Life, and Death”
  • Tuesday, March 1, 2016
  • 6pm wine and hors d’oeuvres, 7pm program starts
  • Kuumbwa Jazz Center
  • Purchase Tickets ($10, includes one drink)
  • Learn more

Play is now, more than ever, serious business. The revolution in gaming has created new communities, identities, and careers. Games can now help detect early dementia and other cognitive deficits, reduce the pain felt by burn victims and speed recovery from concussions, and keep our kids—and some of us too—entertained for hours and hours. What have we gained and what have we lost as a result of the ongoing “gamification of life”? Is play mainly about having fun? How will games help to shape the future and what it means to be a human being?

A talk between Kimberly Lau and Noah Wardrip-Fruin will be moderated by Nathaniel Deutsch.

  • Kimberly Lau is Professor of Literature at UCSC where she teaches courses on virtual worlds, fairy tales, vampire narratives, and theories of gender, race, and sexuality. One of her ongoing research projects considers World of Warcraft, one of the most popular online games ever, in relation to masculinity and its subversions. She is the author of several books and articles, including “The Political Lives of Avatars: Play and Democracy in Virtual Worlds.”
  • Noah Wardrip-Fruin is a Professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz. He co-directs the Expressive Intelligence Studio, a technical and cultural research group focused on games and computational media. His projects have been presented by art venues such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as in games venues such as IndieCade and the Independent Games Festival, and featured in field-defining volumes. His most recent book is Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (2009).
  • Nathaniel Deutsch is a Professor in the Department of History at UC Santa Cruz, where he is also the Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Director of the Institute for Humanities Research.



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