A Discussion on Mary Flanagan’s Presentation on Games, Design and Values.

With Amanda Kok and Nicholas Turner


Games have evolved with technology – from the traditional dice and card games, to the classic board games, to computer and television console games. The growth and accessibility of games, especially with the rise of smartphones, have led to games playing a significant role in our lives. What I found interesting in Mary Flanagan’s talk was her focus on how gameplay can be a platform to convey values and the power it has to shape people’s beliefs.

I took away the same emphasis on values and what games can do within communities. Though I do not spend much time in my everyday life playing games (save for the subway escape into Candy Crush), Mary Flanagan’s talk generated many questions in my mind such as: How might we think of games as a tool in building a better global society? How can we newly embarked grad students take this concept of personal and societal values within gaming and game design and apply the philosophy of personal responsibility towards improving the conditions of peoples’ lives in our own communities and around the world?

Mary Flanagan’s Presentation on Games, Design and Values

Ava Hill Caroline O’Connor Amanda Ortiz Lauren Gary

“It is this fruitful tension between concrete and the abstract with which I play to create my work.”

    – Mary Flanagan

everyoneMary Flanagan is an extraordinary example of entrepreneurship in digital media. Her prominent voice in the world of technology is continuing to break boundaries by investigating technology, specifically games and human dynamics, while focusing on values at play. Some of her work includes “Critical Play: Radical Game Design,” a self-createdValuesAtPlayCover game research lab, Tiltfactor, and her new book, Values at Play in Digital Games, co-authored by Helen Nissenbaum. As she studies the relationships between behavior, tools, play and daily life, Flanagan shines a necessary light on how we can strive to make and use technology more positively. She continues to influence designers and consumers by investigating how the world can be changed through values at play.

Mary Flanagan’s talk at the New School on September 15th, 2014, was an illuminating entryway to the world of game ethics. Mary spoke about her own research on how our value systems influence our game-playing (both video and analog) and also about how we, as a society, interpret values across many of our different media types. Her presentation was a clear introduction to why research methods matter, and why questioning our own values was important to interpreting the media we produce and consume.

For our synthesis of Mary’s talk, we wanted to produce something that might both illustrate her concepts and our own judgements. We decided to create a kind of “game” that you can play within this post. The game is meant to be both a bit confusing and slightly difficult to parse, just as is often the case with our own values.

Nwamaka Hunter Jon Schober Adrian Wagner Nan Zhang


Transmedia producer Caitlin Burns has contributed greatly to the world of storytelling, as she has worked on numerous multi-platform stories such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Disney’s Tron Legacy. Undoubtedly, Burns illustrates an understanding of creating and developing successful stories across media platforms, and when she spoke for the Understanding Media Studies Lecture Series, she shared her insights on the matter.

Tyler Clements Adam Harden George Hull Gregory Mania Nelesi Rodriguez

Urban Screens as community platforms: A reflection on the boundaries, the potential, and the challenges of this medium

Probably the first image that comes to mind when one hears the expression “urban screen” is one of Times Square: intrusive, stereotypical, offensive, manipulative, superficial, and wasteful. Yet even if the Times Square-style spectacle is indeed one example of urban screens, this medium needn’t be reduced to an advertising tool for corporations.

Susa Pop, urban media curator and managing director of the Berlin Public Art Lab, gave a presentation in an Understanding Media Studies lecture at The New School, in which she talked about urban screens as community platforms. She defines these devices as “membranes that are between the urban space and the digital world”. She also identifies the phenomenon as an index of gentrification – they tend to appear with commercial development and increasing property values — a situation that raises questions about the relationship between these projects and the communities in which they are created. According to Susa Pop, these “membranes” can have different sizes and looks. She categorizes the display`s formats as follows: Urban Screens (i.e. billboards), Media Façades (i.e. projections on buildings walls), Media Architectures (using not only the wall, but the whole building as structure for projection and interaction), and Urban Media (i.e. mobile cellphones).

Nicholas Mason Iimani McKnight Jewel Li Ryosuke Date Sean Landers

Joanna Arcieri Adam Bastien Rachel Mossberg Marquis Wimberly

(best if viewed full-screen)

Jelena Gregov
Elyse Marcus

Shannon Smith Tanya Somasundaram Sarah Cerio-Stokes

Peace Is Not “Kumbaya, My Lord”

In today’s society the phrase “world peace” is often associated with individuals who do not have a clear understanding of the complexity it holds. Frequently, this phrase is used as an advertisement to gain support. For instance, a woman competing in a beauty pageant will use the phrase as a generic answer in the hope of gaining votes. However, when the notion of “world peace” is referenced by Jody Williams and Mary Wareham, it has nothing to do with the idea of utopia; as Williams said during her famous TED talk, peace is not “Kumbaya, my Lord.” Instead, it has everything to do with actions of hard work and commitment. On October 20, 2014, in an Understanding Media Studies lecture, Williams and Wareham spoke about their tireless efforts to spread peace throughout the world.

Fatima Sesay Latoya Johnson Moreno Belic Mahreen Ali

Understanding Benjamen Walker

A title like “Theory of Everything” sounds random at first, but it is clear that the podcast’s emphasis is on technology and its influence on our culture. Finding connections where seemingly none could be made is perhaps Benjamen Walker’s most appealing talent. Walker, the man behind ToE, offers simple advice: One must believe in the human voice. It is the guiding force behind the intimacy of the podcast, enabling it to establish an instant and heartfelt connection with the listener. This is the fundamental rule that Walker holds tightly while engaging with his listeners. He loves different accents, different perspectives and different angles to view the world, but what is most striking about Walker’s work is the narrative – the crests and troughs – and its ability to convey the diversity of human voices.

Viannie Bell Sean Finnegan Paola Piers-Torres Evan Luis Solana-Cardona

Fatima Mendez Manuel Villarreal Alessandra Caltabiano Zachary Mack Elvira Blanco

Julia Pontecorvo Katerine Vasquez Arsal Asal Kim Acheson Shecoya Moore-Price


Since 1966 Jill Godmilow has been producing and directing non-fiction and narrative films including the Academy Award nominated Antonia: A Portrait Of The Woman (1974); Far from Poland, (1984) the post-realist documentary feature about the rise of the Polish Solidarity movement; Waiting for the Moon(1987), a feminist/modernist fictional feature about the lives of the literary couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein (1st prize, Sundance Film Festival); Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (1995), a cinematic translation of a theater piece by performance artist Ron Vawter; What Farocki Taught, a replica and interrogation of a short film by German filmmaker Harun Farocki about the production of Napalm B during the Vietnam war, and most recently, a 6 hour, DVD archive, Lear ’87 Archive (Condensed) about the work of the renown New York City theatrical collective, Mabou Mines, at work  on a fully gender-reversed production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Among others, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. In 2003, Antonia: A Portrait of The Woman was added to the prestigious National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.