2019 DiGRA Distinguished Scholars

DiGRA’s Distinguished Scholars program is an award that recognizes outstanding members of the games research community. The title of DiGRA Distinguished Scholar signals excellence in contributions to the field of game studies and the DiGRA organization. The 2019 DiGRA Distinguished Scholars (in alphabetical order by last name): Mary Flanagan, Tracy Fullerton, Torill Mortensen, and Souvik Mukherjee.

Below are biographies for the 2019 Inductees. You can find the complete list of scholars at:  {link to full list}.

Mary Flanagan: Mary Flanagan has been writing about games since the 1990s, with a particular focus on women’s games and artist’s games. She is the author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design(MIT, 2009) and co-author of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri. (Unicolpi, 2005). Flanagan is co-editor of the collections Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (MIT, 2003) and Re:Skin (MIT, 2006). She’s presented game research at the Game Developer’s Conference, Games for Change, and in many international keynotes. Her writing has appeared in Salon, USA Today, Huffington Post, SF Chronicle, and Gamasutra. Flanagan is the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.org.

Tracy Fullerton: Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an experimental game designer, professor and director emeritus of the USC Games program at the University of Southern California. Her research center, the USC Game Innovation Lab, has produced a number of influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, and The Night Journey, with artist Bill Viola. She is the designer and director of Walden, game, an adaptation of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment at Walden Pond, which was recently awarded “Game of the Year” and “Most Significant Impact” at Game for Change. Tracy is also the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a foundational design textbook in use at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Other recent projects include Collegeology, a suite of college preparation games funded by the Department of Education, the Gilbert Foundation and the Gates Foundation and Reality Ends Here, an alternate reality game for incoming freshmen at the School of Cinematic Arts. Prior to joining USC, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ, Sony Game Show Network’s Inquizition and TBS’s Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Tracy was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive, Creative Director at the interactive film studio Interfilm and a designer at Robert Abel’s early interactive company Synapse. Tracy’s work has received numerous honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television, Indiecade’s “Sublime Experience,” “Impact,” and “Trailblazer” awards, Games for Change “Game Changer” award, and the Game Developers Choice “Ambassador” Award. In September 2016, she was named the People’s Choice for most inspiring LA Woman in Los Angeles Magazine.

Torill Mortensen: Torill Elvira Mortensen is of the opinion that it is the everyday and the mundane that teaches us the most about the human condition. This is the background for her lifetime of studying popular culture in its immediate and often overlooked forms. She currently (2019) works at the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), department of Digital Design, and is affiliated with the Center of Games Research and the Culture and Technology (CULT) research departments. She teaches games culture, user studies and media use. Torill has spent her academic career in the borderlines between games, play, media studies and strategic communication, which gives her an unique and eclectic approach to the understanding of contemporary media. At Volda University College, Norway, Torill built and led an education in strategic communication and public relations, which she taught at and had responsibility for through the better part of 19 years. Her first work in game studies was an independent research project studying the structure and content of a game for sex education, aiming at teenage boys. She continued the study of games in her doctorate Dr. Artium at the University of Bergen, studying user practices in role-play based multi-user dungeons. During this period she was part of starting up the journal Game Studies, she was a member of the DiGRA board between 2006 and 2010, and she was guild leader for an European Game Scholars guild in World of Warcraft. This is an example of Torill’s eclectic approach to academic collaboration. During this period her research was focused on user practices, and she wrote about weblogs and social online game play, writing in English, her second language, to publish her first anthology, Perceiving Play (2009). In 2010 Torill moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, and started working at IT University of Copenhagen. Here her teaching has focused on digital rhetoric and transmediality, while her research gained an even stronger game focus, as she co-edited the influential The Dark Side of Gameplay anthology (2015). In 2019 Torill is studying transgressive aesthetics, and looks at how game and play methods and theory can be used to understand online, dispersed communication.

Souvik Mukherjee: Souvik Mukherjee is assistant professor and chair of the Department of English at Presidency University, Kolkata. Souvik has been researching videogames as an emerging storytelling medium since 2002, examining their relationship to canonical ideas of narrative and also how these games inform and challenge current conceptions of technicity, identity, culture and postcolonialism. He is the author of two monographs Videogames and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back (Springer UK 2017). Besides maintaining an active interest in issues related to portrayals of empire and postcolonialism in videogames, he is also currently involved in researching ancient Indian boardgames. Besides a range of topics in Game Studies, Souvik researches and teaches Early Modern English Literature and (the) Digital Humanities in Kolkata, India. More details about his research, publications and thoughts on the subject can be found on his blog ‘Ludus ex Machina’ (http://readinggamesandplayingbooks.blogspot.com/). Souvik writes occasionally on games and gaming for The Times of India and helps organise the Global Game Jam in Kolkata. Souvik has served as a board-member of the Digital Games Research Association and has represented the DiGRA’s Diversity Group on the board.

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