|Fall 2017||Research Associate at the University of California Santa Cruz|
|Since 2015||Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin|
|2012-2014||MA in American Studies, Universität Leipzig|
|2008-2011||BA in English and History, Leibniz Universität Hannover|
|2010||University of Nebraska—Lincoln|
What happens when we play American in current open-world video games? I want to illuminate the ways in which these games are expressive of twenty-first-century American culture in the interplay of their mechanics and themes and what happens when players engage with them. This project is an effort to couple theories, methodologies, and research interests from the field of Game Studies with those of American Studies in order to elucidate the meaning and functioning of video games in the broader assemblage of American culture, focusing on a subsection of open-world games that employs what I call ambioperative game worlds. Three preliminary working theses run through this dissertation, informing and driving its research questions:
The project seeks to shed light on these issues through case studies of games like Grand Theft Auto V, Watch Dogs 1/2, Red Dead Redemption 1/2, and Fallout 3/4, applying theoretical lenses ranging from Ian Bogost’s procedural rhetoric to Bruno Latour’s actor-network-theory. All of the case studies, as well as large parts of the rest of this dissertation, utilize a tripartite approach that combines a formal analysis, a contextualization attending to the cultural ecology of the games, and a consideration of practitioners’ accounts (e. g., from players, reviewers, and producers).
Publications and Conference Presentations
“Playing the Black Box Society: The Procedural Rhetoric of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs Games.” The Futures of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. 19-25 June 2017. Presentation. (upcoming)
“‘There Are Better Options Than This’ (i. e., Pony Lasers): Pony Island as Countergaming.” Modernities and Modernization in North America. 64th Annual Meeting of the German Association of American Studies. Leibniz University Hannover. 8-11 June 2017. Presentation. (upcoming)
“Control and Coordinate: Video Games as (Fictions of) Management.” Fictions of Management: An International Conference. John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin. 10 Dec. 2016. Presentation.
“Places, Actors, Procedures: Transfictional World-Building in the Video Game Series Grand Theft Auto.” Expanding Universes: Exploring Transmedial and Transfictional Ways of Worldbuilding. Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków. 25 Sept. 2016. Presentation.
“Playing with Broadcast: Radio and Television as Ludo-Narrative Devices in the Video Game Series Grand Theft Auto.” Return of the Living-Dead Media: Media Cultures of Persistence, Resistance and Residue. 14th NECS Graduate Workshop. Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, Potsdam. 27 July 2016. Presentation.
“Grand Theft Satire? Framing Ludic Violence and the Problem of Ethical Gameplay in Grand Theft Auto V.” Framing Violence: A Multidisciplinary Symposium on Theorizing Frames. John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin. 1 July 2016. Presentation.
“Digital Empires, Ludic Neoliberalism, and the ‘Flâneur Electronique’: Urban Visions in Open-World Video Games.” Cityscapes: Media Textualities and Urban Visions. York St. John University. 23 April 2016. Presentation.
“‘Hottentot Barbie’ as a Multicultural Star: The Commodification of Race in Nicki Minaj’s Music Videos.” aspeers: emerging voices in american studies 8 (2015): 49-70. Print.
“The American Myth of the Wilderness in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and Desolation Angels.” New Academia 3.2 (2014): n. pag. Interactions Forum. Web.
With Florian Bast et al., eds. aspeers: emerging voices in american studies 7 (2014). Print.
With Florian Bast et al. “Introduction: American Anxieties.” aspeers: emerging voices in american studies 7 (2014): vii-xvi. Print.
“The Return of the Repressed: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.” Connect the Dots: Structures—Networks—Systems. Student Conference Bayreuth 2014. Universität Bayreuth. 12 January 2014. Presentation.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Alien: Orientalism in Star Wars.” American Wars: Material and Ideological Battlegrounds. 12th Annual Student & Graduate Conference. Humboldt-Universität Berlin, 8 November 2013. Presentation.
With Florian Bast et al., eds. aspeers: emerging voices in american studies 6 (2013). Print.
With Florian Bast et al. “Memories in American Studies.” aspeers: emerging voices in american studies 6 (2013): vii-xxi. Print.