Professor Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in art, cultural studies,  film 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 affiliated with the History of Art and Visual Culture Department, and teaches a core course for the Art + Design:  Games + Playable Media Program.

Murray researches and teaches in the following areas:

  • Visual culture studies including contemporary art, film, and electronic games
  • Critical game studies
  • New media art, theory, and criticism
  • Theories of technology and its imaginaries
  • Contemporary art and globalization
  • History of art and technology
  • Science-fiction (utopia / dystopia / apocalypse / technothriller )
  • Representations of otherness/race/class/gender/sexuality

Feel free to contact me for articles/writings if you are unable to access them online.


Technothriller: American Technological Imaginaries in Film and Visual Culture (single-author book)

Antiracist Futures: Games, Play and the Speculative Imagination (Co-edited anthology with TreaAndrea Russworm)


Selected Writing

“No Country For Old Tropes: Representation and Political Affect in Red Dead Redemption 2” in forthcoming anthology Red Dead Redemption: History, Myth and Violence in the Videogame West, University of Oklahoma Press 2023 (7000 words), eds. John Wills and Esther Wright.

“Coda: Disoriented in the Field of Play” in Video Games and Spatiality in American Studies, ed. Dietmar Meinel (Berlin: De Gruyter, March 2022)

“Decisions, Decisions: Narrative Video Games, Perspectivization and Implicit Politics” 2022.

“Video Games: Art, Inclusion, and the Techno-cultural Imaginary” in Gwangju Biennale 2020 Anthology: Stronger Than Bone. 2021.

“Domestic Snapshots: Female Self-Imaging Practices Then and Now” in Visual Culture Approaches to the Selfie (ed. Derek Conrad Murray, Routledge 2021)

“America is Dead. Long Live America!: Political Affect in Days Gone” in European Journal of American Studies [Special Issue: “Video Games and/in American Studies: Politics, Popular Culture, and Populism”] eds. Mahshid Mayar and Stefan Schubert.

“‘In this game that we’re playing’: Nineteen Eighty-Four and Videogames” in The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, ed. Nathan Waddell (Cambridge Companions to Literature). September 2020.

GAME OVER. Critica della ragione videoludica (GAME OVER. Critique of Video Game Rationality) My essay an Italian translation of published paper. Edited by Matteo Bittanti, Publisher: Mimesis Edizioni, Series: Eterotopie Published December 2020.

Spotlight Interview by TreaAndrea Russworm in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies Vol. 60, No. 1 (Fall 2020): 1-3.

“Horizons Already Here” in Art Journal Vol. 79, No. 2 [Special Forum on Games and Landscape] Summer 2020: pp. 42-113. Includes work by Soraya Murray, ed., Harun Farocki, Dorothy R. Santos, Alenda Chang, Tracy Fullerton, COLL.EO, Eugénie Shinkle and Hava Aldouby.

“Playing Whiteness in Crisis in The Last of Us and Tomb Raider” in ToDIGRA Special Issue: The Game is the Message, Selected Articles from the 2018 International DIGRA Conference Vol 4, No 3 (2019): 117-146.

“The Last of Us and Masculinity” in How to Play Video Games, Nina Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne, eds. (New York: NYU Press, March 2019)

“Augmented Reality Bites: Black Mirror’s “Playtest” and the Unstable Now” in eds. Terence McSweeney and Stuart Joy, Through The Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

“The Triumphal Procession” in ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories Vol.1, No. 1 (July 2019).

Contribution to Special Issue: Feminist Media Histories: Special Issue: Genealogies of Feminist Media Scholarship: “Video Games and Playable Media” Vol. 4 No. 2 (Spring 2018), 214-219.

“Landscapes of Empire in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” Critical Inquiry 45, no. 1 (Autumn 2018): 168-198.

“The Work of Postcolonial Game Studies in the Play of Culture” in Open Library of Humanities, 4(1) (February 2018):pp. 1–25, DOI:

“The Poetics of Form and the Politics of Identity in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” in Kinephanos: Journal of Media Studies and Popular Culture, “History of Gender in Games” Special Issue, ed.: Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin (June 2017)

“The Rubble and the Ruin: Race, Gender and Sites of Inglorious Conflict in Spec Ops: The Line” in Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, edited by Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.

“Race, Gender, and Genre in Spec Ops: The Line,” Film Quarterly, Vol. 70, Iss. 2, (Dec 2016

“Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line” in Pat Harrigan and Matthew Kirschenbaum, eds., Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016).

Conversation with Artist in Kori Newkirk: Sometimes Always Perhaps Never [artist monograph] (Los Angeles: LM Projects, 2015)

“Threeview: Thief reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic” in VentureBeat,, March 21, 2014.

“Threeview: Grand Theft Auto V reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic” in VentureBeat, 30, 2013.

“Threeview: The Last of Us reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic” in VentureBeat,, July 1, 2013.

“Theorizing New Media in a Global Context; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Media” in FILE Festival Catalog, Electronic Language International Festival, 2013, organized by Paula Perissinotto e Richard Barreto (São Paolo, Brazil: Thaïs Costa, 2013), 10-23. [translated into Portuguese]

“Theorizing New Media in a Global Context; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Media” in CTheory,, published November 13, 2012.

“Seeing Differently” Book Review of Amelia Jones’ Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts, in Third Text, Vol. 26, Issue 6 (November, 2012): 781–783.

“Threeview: Call of Duty: Black Ops II reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic” in VentureBeat, ops-ii/#mrJK2hur6sr24lMI.99, December 4, 2012.

“Threeview: Assassin’s Creed III reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic” in VentureBeat, iii/, November 20, 2012.

“Public Ritual:  William Pope.L and Exorcisms of Abject Otherness,” in Public Art Review, 2010.

“Digital Aesthetics: Two Handbooks” Book Review of Christiane Paul, New Media in the White Cube and Beyond and Victoria Vesna, Database Aesthetics in Art Journal, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Fall 2009): 112-115.

“Cybernated Aesthetics: Lee Bul and the Body Transfigured” in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 88 Vol. 30, No. 1 (May 2008): 38-50.

“On Art and Contamination: Performing Authenticity in Global Art Practices,” Co-authored with Derek Conrad Murray, in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art 22/23 (Spring/Summer 2008): 88-93.

“Uneasy Bedfellows: Canonical Art Theory and the Politics of Identity,” Co-authored with Derek Conrad Murray, in Art Journal, Volume 65, Number 1 (Spring 2006): 22-39.

“Scratching the Surface” Book Review of Rhythm Science by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid, Art Journal, Volume 64, Number 4: 133-135.

“High Art/Low Life: Playing Grand Theft Auto” in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Volume 80 (May 2005): 91-98.