Apprehending play pacman graphic


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Games have sometimes been described as the aesthetic form of systems, much as music might be considered the aesthetic form of sound. In a complex world full of natural and man-made systems, educators increasingly turn to games to help facilitate understanding. At the same time, games as designed objects are oftentimes narrowly perceived as serving one principal function: filling up and enhancing our leisure time to escape from productive concerns. Naomi Clark has been designing, writing, teaching, and thinking about games for more than twenty years and recently she’s become interested in the tangled relationship between humans and our games. This interest has led her to ask: what kind of fantasies emerge from interaction with game systems, as distinct from marketing messages or authored stories, and what do these fantasies tell us about our culture? What would it mean to cultivate a more nuanced appreciation of games? Why do certain forms of play satisfy or glut? How do games engage and fill our sensory-cognitive faculties? What would happen if—as players or creators, or both—we sought to develop tastes that were less driven by satiating our needs and anxieties? Clark’s Senses series lecture dove deeply into these questions of play, taste, and fantasies.


Game designer and scholar Naomi Clark is Assistant Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Game Center. Clark began designing and producing games while working on early online games in the 1990s. As an editor for the online magazine Word, she co-designed one of the web’s first multiplayer games, Sissyfight 2000. She then went on to produce software toys and online games for LEGO®. Clark has worked as a game designer, producer, and creative director at New York studios including Gamelab, Rebel Monkey, and Fresh Planet. Her writing about games can be found in collections such as Videogames For Humans (edited by Merritt Kopas) and in the co-authored textbook A Game Design Vocabulary. Clark’s 2014 cooperative card game Consentacle, which explores the complex issues of sex and consent, as well as her keynote address at the 2014 Queerness and Games Conference, are just two examples that highlight her ongoing contributions to critical discourse in the arts by challenging and discussing issues of gender, equality, and taste in the game industry.


The suggested reading list includes various reading and media recommendations provided by the visitor. This list of materials can include projects authored by the artist or others, and provides further insight into the visitor’s sources of inspiration and additional context surrounding the artist/scholar/designer’s work and practice. This list is shared with RMCAD students and faculty and is archived on the website for academic integration and research opportunities. The physical materials are archived in the RMCAD campus library and the VASD Program archive.

The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia by Bernard Suits (book)

Rules of Play by Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman (book), Chapter 21: “Breaking the Rules”

Papers, Please by Lucas Pope (game)

Undertale by Toby Fox (game)

“Death of the Player” by Mattie Brice (blog post)

“Queering Human-Game Relations” by Naomi Clark and Merritt Kopas, (lecture and blog post)

Corrypt by Michael Brough (game)

“When Prison is a Game” by Will Partin in The Atlantic (online article)

“Learn to Play: A Lack of Taste” by Naomi Clark (blog post)

“Lunch Break” by Stephen Murphy (blog post)

A Game Design Vocabulary by Anna Anthropy and Naomi Clark (book)

Sunless Sea by Failbetter Games (game)

Cart Life by Richard Hofmeier (game)

Analogue: A Hate Story by Christine Love (game)

Videogames for Humans ed. by Merritt Kopas (book)

Play Anything by Ian Bogost (book)

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Maker's Space Event - Paint Pour

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Wednesday, March 26, 2025 Hold for a potential Visiting Artist, Scholar + Designer Program Speaker event.

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