I hold a PhD from the University of Manchester (Sociology), an MA from The Courtauld (History of Art), and a BA from University College London (Philosophy and the History of Art). My ESRC and President’s Doctoral Scholarship funded PhD explored the ways in which player practices in contemporary single-player computer games (particularly RPGs) can be said to be aligned with what may be called a ‘neoliberal self-fashioning’ or to constitute the Foucauldean aesthetic practices of the self that lead to a ‘transformation’ or ‘transfiguration’ of the playing subject. As such, it examined ‘playful’ self-formation as a terrain on which power and resistance plays out, delving into the limitations of Foucault’s anti-normative ethico-aesthetics in order to do so.
I have taught courses that have spanned media studies, game studies, critical social theory, and aesthetics. I am a section editor for the Journal of the Philosophy of Computer Games.
Research Interests and PhD Supervision
- The technologies of the self
- Self-transformation through playful technologies
- Theories of habitus
- Digital play
I am interested in self-transformative practices that are abetted through the use of playful digital technologies. I have focused on the work of Michel Foucault with respect to the ethico-aesthetic practices of the self, or care of the self, but have also researched the work of other theorists who have explored ‘subjectivation’ and ‘individuation’. This investigation expands into defining the contours of an ethics that conjoins the anti-normativism and ‘micro-political’ nature of the aesthetic practices of the self with the possibility of a transformation beyond the self, i.e., a broader (macro-political) social change that arises through the reflexive awareness of individual habits and the gestation of new social habits that are connected to the digital. This area of research is conjoined with thinking the limits of contemporary individualising techniques of power in its production of neoliberal subjectivities, as well as with taking into account the problems of deploying ‘neoliberalism’ as a stable master category.
I teach on modules that explore the relationship between users and technologies, drawing upon a range of philosophical traditions to critically evaluate the ways in which users are entangled with technologies in complex ways that result in transformations in their relations to self.
Expertise and Public Engagement
- Game studies
- Foucault studies
- Subjectivity and identity
- Aesthetic theory
- Critical social theory
Participation in expert panels:
‘Subjects’ and ‘objects’ in game studies.’ Panel at The 12th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: Values in Games. IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen (August 13-15, 2018). Panellists: Espen Aarseth, Andreas Gregersen, Justyna Janik, Sebastian Möring, Feng Zhu.
‘What Does it Mean to do Game Philosophy?’ Panel at The 10th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: Knowledge. The University of Malta, Malta (November 1-4, 2016). Panellists: Marta Matylda Kania, Olli Tapio Leino, Sebastian Möring, John Richard Sageng, Feng Zhu.
‘Critical Theory and Meaning in the Computer Game.’ Panel at The 9th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: Meaning and Computer Games. BTK, University of Art and Design, Berlin (October 14-17, 2015). Panellists: Emma Fraser, Graeme Kirkpatrick, Feng Zhu.
- ‘Critical theory and video games’ (co-written with Graeme Kirkpatrick). The Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Games. Sageng, J.R. & Nguyen, T. (eds.)(forthcoming).
- ‘The freedom of alienated reflexive subjectivity in The Stanley Parable.’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (2018). Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/g7cgYdT64gVksH8fgNHJ/full
- ‘Computer Gameplay and the Aesthetic Practices of the Self: Game Studies and the Late Work of Michel Foucault.’ ToDiGRA Vol. 3, No. 3 (2018). Available at: http://todigra.org/index.php/todigra
- Review of Films and Games: Interactions. Film Philosophy Vol. 19 (2015), pp.183-6. Available at: https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/film.2015.0063
- ‘Between Autopoiesis and Neoliberal Self-Fashioning: the Dialectics of Self-Construction in Single-Player Role-Playing Games.’ Proceedings of The 9th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference (2015). Available at: http://2015.gamephilosophy.org/