November 4, 2020- University of Sussex Lecture – Days Gone

A belated but very heartfelt thanks to my colleagues in the U.K., especially Dr. Irene Fubara-Manuel, for the kind invitation to speak as part of the research seminars series at the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex. Given the topic, it was definitely intense sharing this particular research one day after the U.S. election…

America is Dead. Long Live America!: Political Affect in Days Gone 


In this presentation, Murray considers political affect in the open world action-adventure survival horror game Days Gone (SIE Bend Studios, 2019). Through its rendering of the Pacific Northwest landscape as ideology, much is revealed about a deeply troubled and oppositional worldview. While her research addresses matters of representation—particularly notions of fraught masculinity and a struggle for recognition—Murray’s focus is on how the game functions as a window onto a fantasy of American self-reliance and populism that strongly resonates with a Trump-era nationalist turn in the U.S. The work also gestures toward a methodology of experiential close-reading, one focused on working-through and sitting with a difficult aesthetic object that may at first seem entirely generic. In this essay, Murray reaches through the offending, formulaic image to grasp the political affect that emanates from a sustained aesthetic experience of playing Days Gone.

GAME OVER: Critique of Video Game Rationality / GAME OVER: CRITICA DELLA RAGIONE VIDEOLUDICA (2020) now available…

GAME OVER. Critica della ragione videoludica (GAME OVER. Critique of Video Game Rationality) is now published with Mimesis Edizioni and includes an Italian translation of my essay “Playing Whiteness in Crisis in The Last of Us and Tomb Raider

Edited by Matteo Bittanti

Publisher: Mimesis Edizioni

Release date: December 15 2020

ISBN: 978-88-5756-384-8

Cover design: Marco Goran Romano

Synopsis: What happens when video games break the screen and enter the “real world”? Game Over. Critica della ragione videoludica is the first book published in Italy to critically examine the most controversial – and yet often overlooked – aspects of contemporary video game culture, including gamers’ identity politics, fanboy tribalism, trolls’ tactics, racism, sexism and homophobia in online multiplayer games, the side effects of  gamification, the GamerGate campaign, and the commodification of game practices in the context of streaming practices, through the contributions of international scholars whose research is situated at the intersection of game studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and sociology. This book argues that the video game imaginary is dominated by two complementary rather than divergent, but equally toxic, ideologies: cryptofascism and neoliberalism.

Contributors: Matteo Bittanti, Andrea Braithwaite, Kurt Borchard, Claudio Cugliandro, Suzanne de Castell, Daniel Dooghan, Peter Frase, Jonathan Glover, Daniel Harley, Renyi Hong, Jennifer Jenson, Sarah Mason, Torill Elvira Mortensen, Soraya Murray, Ulysses Pascal, Gregory P. Perreault, Michael Salter and Tim Vos.

For the English original text, you can download the PDF

Stronger Than Bone – 13th Gwangju Biennale Reader

Included in the anthology Stronger Than Bone, as part of the 13th Gwangju Biennale, is my essay on video games, art and feminism. Entitled “Video Games: Art, Inclusion, and the Techno-cultural Imaginary,” it considers the stakes of a gendered conversation around video games. In it, I write:

“What is going on within video games as visual culture is merely one dimension of a larger struggle against a persisting failure of the imagination around which futures are envisioned, who belongs in them, and who drives them. These ideas are tied up in art and visual culture. By reading versions of technological futures against the grain of their highly masculinist fantasies, the work of artists, game designers, and critical game scholars is part of a greater project that makes space for the subjective, the responsive, and for some of the internal narratives that may inform a personal understanding of such games. This is an effort to reach through the most offending of these images, to grasp the political affect that emanates from games as deeply aesthetic experiences, to cultivate more inclusive storytelling, and through the alchemy of theory and practice, to imagine futures anew. The critical conversation at the center of technology belongs to all of us. It is mine to have, and it is yours.”