Mary Flanagan – Changing the World Through Values at Play

By in Lectures on September 15, 2014

Abstract: All games express and embody human values, providing a compelling arena in which we play out beliefs and ideas. “Big ideas” such as justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation—as well as other kinds of ideas, including violence, exploitation, and greed—may emerge in games whether designers intend them or not. In this talk, Mary Flanagan presents Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. After developing a theoretical foundation for this approach, Flanagan will provide detailed examinations of selected games, demonstrating the many ways in which values are embedded in them. Flanagan will also discuss the Values at Play heuristic, a systematic approach for incorporating values into the game design process. Can better games enable a robust self and society?


Due to technical difficulties in the auditorium, the first 20 minutes of the lecture (part 1) were not filmed. This section served to situate the relation between emerging technologies and social values in historical context.

The Talk – Part One

The Talk – Part Two

The Class Responds (by Group Number)

Mary Flanagan, Artist, Writer, Game Designer + Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities @ Dartmouth College: “Changing the World Through Values at Play

Mary Flanagan has achieved international acclaim for novel interdisciplinary work that weaves a studio art practice into humanities scholarship and scientific inquiry. Not content to work solely in the gallery space, she invades commercial game design, pop culture, and academia with provocative ideas about authorship, politics, and aesthetics. Her artwork ranges from game based systems to computer viruses, embodied interfaces to interactive poems. These works are exhibited internationally at galleries including the Tate Britain, the Telfair Museum, and ZKM Germany. Flanagan’s hybrid practice was recently showcased in The Atlantic,and her engagement as a “public intellectual” pushed her to publish recent pieces in USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Inside Higher Education, and more. Flanagan has served on the faculty of the Salzburg Global Seminar & the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Academic Consortium on Games for Impact. She holds the honorary title at Dartmouth College of the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities.  Her most recent book, co-authored with Helen Nissenbaum, is Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) with MIT Press.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *