Problematic Pleasures in Digital Games and Play

When and Where

Friday, February 18, 2022 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm


Christopher B. Patterson
Aaron Trammell
Kishonna L. Gray
Bo Ruberg


Games, of all the popular arts, are perhaps most inextricably bound up in notions of pleasure, but in spite of the primacy of pleasure, the concept is rarely interrogated in game studies. However, in recent years a number of game scholars have applied intersectional lenses to understand pleasure in all its complexity, challenging both canonical theories of play and celebratory marketing rhetoric. Problematic Pleasures in Digital Games and Play brings four prominent international game scholars into dialogue to critically unpack the diverse and not always harmless ways that pleasure moves us in and through play. Pleasure is not all fun and games, and this unique event will generate new insights and directions of inquiry for game studies and the wider humanities.


  • Christopher B. Patterson (he/him, University of British Columbia), author of Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games
  • Aaron Trammell (he/him, UC Irvine), author of "Torture, Play, and the Black Experience" and Repairing Play 
  • Kishonna L. Gray (she/her, University of Kentucky), author of Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming
  • Bo Ruberg (they/them, UC Irvine) author of Video Games Have Always Been Queer 

Organized by Felan Parker, Sara Grimes, and Scott Richmond. This programming is supported by the Jackman Humanities Institute’s Program for the Arts for 2021-2022 on the annual theme of Pleasure. Additional support from St. Michael’s College, the Knowledge Media Design Institute, the Faculty of Information, and the Cinema Studies Institute.