Soraya Murray

Title: Is the ‘Culture’ in Game Culture the ‘Culture’ in Cultural Studies?

Abstract: This presentation asks: what is at stake in the relationship between critical theory and video games as forms of cultural production?

When the term “game culture” is used, it typically refers to the practices and communities around games, or in other words to something thought of as “player culture”. This is in keeping with the common definition of ‘culture’ as concerning a given social group’s particular ways of life. Within the discourse of cultural studies, however, the notion of ‘culture’ alludes to a history of critical thought that explores the complex and fraught connections between identity, representation, ideology and power.

Based upon Murray’s 2018 book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space, this talk theorizes an expanded understanding of ‘culture’ for games criticism, using a interdisciplinary critical toolkit made possible by cultural studies. Demonstrating that games are at the frontline of power relations, she reimagines how we see them – and more importantly how we understand them.

Short Bio: Professor Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in art, film, digital media and video 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 Associate Professor in the Film + Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she is also principal faculty in the Art + Design: Games + Playable Media Program and affiliated with the History of Art and Visual Culture Department. Murray’s book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B.Tauris, 2018), considers video games from a visual culture perspective, and how they both mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition. @sorayamurray