Mary Flanagan

Academic Appointments

Chair of Film and Media Studies
Professor of Film and Media Studies
Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities
Affiliated Faculty, The Institute of Arctic Studies, The John Sloan Dickey Center

Mary Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, is a leading innovator, artist, educator and designer, whose works have included everything from game-inspired art, to commercial games that shift people’s thinking about biases and stereotypes. 

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Her interest in play and culture led to her acclaimed book, Critical Play, with MIT Press (2009). Her fifth academic book, Values at Play in Digital Games (with philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, MIT 2014), demonstrates that thinking about values is a key to innovation. Flanagan established the internationally recognized game research laboratory Tiltfactor ( in 2003 to invent "humanist" games and take on social through games. At Tiltfactor, designers create and research catchy games that teach or transform “under the radar” using psychological principles. Flanagan's digitally driven artworks and installations have been shown internationally at venues including the Hyundai Motor Studios in Beijing, Ars Electronica in Linz, Laboral Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SIGGRAPH, Beall Center, Steirischer Herbst, The Guggenheim New York, Gigantic Art Space, and others. Her many essays and articles on digital culture have appeared in periodicals and books ranging in fields from game studies to cultural studies to computer science.

Flanagan’s awards and accolades reflect her interdisciplinary impact. In 2019 she was a Digital Games Research Association Distinguished Scholar and held a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation residency. She was awarded the 2018 Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica in the category of Interactive art+. She was also a 2018 Cultural Leader at the World Economic Forum and an invited participant to the World Government Summit. Flanagan also was awarded a Thoma Foundation 2018 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art and, at Dartmouth, she was given the Class of 1964 Outstanding Leadership Award. In 2017 Flanagan was a John Paul Getty Museum Scholar, and has been an American Council of Learned Societies fellow, a Brown Foundation Fellow, and a MacDowell Colony Fellow.  In 2016 Flanagan was awarded the Vanguard award from Games for Change.  In 2015 Flanagan was awarded the Higher Education Video Games Alliance award for "advancing theory & research" in the field of game studies. 

Flanagan holds a PhD from Central St Martins, University of the Arts in London and in 2016 was awarded an honorary doctorate in design from The Illinois Institute of Technology.  She has served on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Academic Consortium on Games for Impact, and her work has been supported by commissions and grants including The British Arts Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (with Digital Mill), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and more.

Follow Flanagan @criticalplay and on Instagram; visit the Tiltactor laboratory:; and visit her personal home page:


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245 Black Family Visual Arts Center
HB 6194
Film and Media Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
B.A. University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
M.A. University of Iowa
M.F.A. University of Iowa
Ph.D. Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London

Selected Publications


Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum, Values at Play in Digital Games (MIT 2014)

Mary Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT 2009)

Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, eds. re:Skin (MIT 2007)

Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, eds. Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (MIT 2002)


Flanagan, Mary. “A path to our futures.” ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories, inaugural issue (July 2019),


Freedman G, Flanagan M, Kaufman G, Green MC (2018) “Obituaries Can Popularize Science and Health: Stephen Hawking and Interest in Cosmology and ALS,” Psychology of Popular Media Culture.


Potter, S.J., Flanagan, M., Seidman, M., Hodges, H., Stapleton, J., Vessels, L. (2018) “Developing and Piloting Video Games to Increase College and University Students’ Awareness and Efficacy of the Bystander Role in Incidents of Sexual Violence,” Games for Health Journal doi: 10.1089/g4h.2017.0172

Freedman, G., Seidman, M., Flanagan, M., Kaufman, G., & Green, M. C. (2018) The impact of an “aha” moment on gender biases: Limited evidence for the efficacy of a game intervention that challenges gender assumptions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 162-167. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2018.03.014. 

Freedman G, Seidman M, Flanagan M, Kaufman G, Green MC (2018) Updating a classic: A new generation of vignette experiments involving iterative decision-making. Adv Methods Pract Psychol Sci.  doi: 10.1177/2515245917742982

Freedman, G., Green, M. C., Flanagan, M., Fitzgerald, K., & Kaufman, G., (2018). The effect of gender on attributions for women’s anxiety and doubt in a science narrative. Psychology of Women Quarterly, doi: 10.1177/0361684318754528

Freedman, G., & Flanagan, M. (2017). From dictators to avatars: Furthering social and personality psychology through game methods. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, e12368. doi: 10.1111/spc3.12368. 

Green, Melanie, Fitzgerald, Kaitlin, Kaufman, Geoff and Flanagan, Mary. (2017) “Self-Esteem and Public Self-Consciousness Moderate the Emotional Impact of Expressive Writing about Experiences with Bias.” Personality and Individual Differences.

Seidman, M. J., Flanagan, M., Rose-Sandler, T., Lichtenberg, M. “Are games a viable solution to crowdsourcing improvements to faulty OCR? - The Purposeful Gaming and BHL experience.” Code4Lib Journal 2016

Kaufman, Geoff and Flanagan, Mary. “Playing the System: Comparing the Efficacy and Impact of Digital and Non-digital Versions of a Collaborative Strategy Game.” Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) 2016.

Kaufman, Geoff, Mary Flanagan, & Sukdith Punjasthitkul, “Investigating the Impact of ‘Emphasis Frames’ and Social Loafing on Player Motivation and Performance in a Crowdsourcing Game,” Proceedings of CHI 2016.

Kaufman, Geoff, and Flanagan, Mary. “High-Low Split: Divergent Cognitive Construal Levels Triggered by Digital and Non-digital Platforms,” Proceedings of CHI 2016.

Kaufman, G., Flanagan, M.  "A Psychologically “Embedded” Approach to Designing Games for Prosocial Causes." Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, Special Issue on Videogames, 9(3), article 5. doi: 10.5817/CP2015-3-5

Kaufman, G., Flanagan, M., Seidman, M., & Wien, S. “RePlay Health: An experiential role-playing sport for modeling health care decisions, policies, and outcomes.”  Games for Health Journal.  (2015).

Manzo, C., Kaufman, G., Punjasthitkul, S., and Flanagan, M. “Folksonomies to Libraries and Back Again: Assessing the Value of Crowdsourced, User-Generated Metadata,” Digital Humanities Quarterly (2015).

Kaufman, G. and Flanagan, M. “Lost in Translation:  Comparing the Impact of an Analog and Digital Version of a Public Health Game on Players’ Perceptions, Attitudes, and Cognitions.” Intnl Journal of Games & Computer Mediated Simulations 5(3) 2013, 1-9.

Flanagan, M. & Carini, P. (2012). “How games can help us access and understand cultural artifacts.” American Archivist 75(2), 514-37. 



Colors of Remembrance (digital drawings)

The Archive to Come, Telematic Media Arts, San Francisco, curated by Carla Gannis and Clark Buckner, 22 October -17 December 2020.


Confinementscotch (critical hopscotch)

« 52 Artists 52 Actions » series, Artspace Sydney Australia July 2020


[Grace:AI] Prometheus 2 (Feminist AI, prints on aluminum)

“The Question of Intelligence,” Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, The New School New York City,  6 February –March 2020




[pile of secrets] (8 videos)

“Gameplay. Cultura dels videojocs,” from 18 December 2019 to 3 May 2020 CENTRE DE CULTURA CONTEMPORÀNIA DE BARCELONA


[topoesis] (electronic poetry software and works on paper)

“REWIRED,” Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design Gallery, University of Bergen 21-28 November


[Grace:AI] Prometheus I (Feminist AI, works on paper)

“Children of Prometheus” exhibition at the NeMe Arts Center, Cyprus 10th Oct - Dec 20th


[mapscotch] (bombscotch) (Installation)

Playmode, MAAT  | Museu de Arte, Arquitectura e Tecnologia  | Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology  Lisbon Portugal October


WORDBOXES: Décomposition du Oui, Numéro 1, 2

Art Contemporain à La Maison Dora Maar, Ménerbes France

[help me know the truth]
(software and installation)
“Future Humanity ­­– Our Shared Planet,” Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing 7 Nov – 28 Feb 2019

[borders] (Video Installation)
New Art Fest +18 Lisbon Portugal 9 Nov – 30 Nov 2018

[help me know the truth] (software and installation)
Ars Electronica Center Linz Austria October

[mirror book] (computational poetry installation)
Un lieu Une oeuvre galerie, Ménerbes France March 

[help me know the truth] (software and installation)
UCLA Art Sci Gallery Los Angeles March

(Video Installation)
Im Spielrausch: Von Drachentötern, Königinnen und Pixelmonstern (Intoxicating Play: Of dragon slayers, queens and pixel monsters) Museum of Fine Arts Cologne (MAKK) August 19, 2017 to February 4, 2018

[borders] (Video Installation)
ART GAMES DEMO #4 Frontières et Migration aux Subsistances à Lyon December 2017

[domestic] (3D Computer Game Artwork)
HACKING / MODDING / REMIXING as Feminist Protest, Curated by Angela Washko, Jan. 28 – Feb. 26, 2017 Miller Gallery Carnegie Mellon University

[mapscotch] (bombscotch) (Installation)
Push Play exhibition, Touring: January 12 - March 4 2017, Hedreen Gallery, Seattle 12 Oct - 31 Dec 2017, Vicki Myhren Gallery, University of Denver

[Help Me Know The Truth]
(software and installation)
“Monsters in the Machine” exhibition, LABORAL arts center, Asturias Spain in November 2016

[mapscotch] (bombscotch) (Installation) Free Play exhibition, Touring: Museum London in London, ON, Canada from January 30, 2016 - May 8, 2016; The Rooms, Provincial Art Gallery Division in St. John's, NL, Canada from May 27, 2016 - August 28, 2016; Parsons' Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at The New School in New York City, NY

[borders] series 
PLAYGROUNDS, Redline Collective Denver CO  July

[mapscotch] (bombscotch) (Installation) Free Play exhibition, Touring:  College of Wooster Art Museum Curated by Melissa E. Feldman January 18, 2015 - March 6; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada from April 25, 2015 - August 3, 2015; Handwerker Gallery, Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY from Oct 1, 2015 - Nov 6, 2015

Play Your Place: Play South Westminster
(Public Art Video Game in collaboration with Ruth Catlow as Local Play UK) Tate Britain, British Folk Art Exhibition July 2014

[borders] (Video Installation) FILE Machinima in FILE 2014 - Electronic Language International Festival, FIESP Cultural Center, São Paulo Aug 25 to Oct 05, 2014

[map-puzzle 1: treasure island] (Puzzle) Dime Bag 4: exhibition at The End is Near, Brooklyn July

[mapscotch] (Installation) Free Play exhibition at Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside PA Curated by Melissa E. Feldman

[borders] (Video Installation) Digital Zoo exhibition UK (Touring 5 cities) Feb – July including London, Sunderland, Leeds

[buffalo] (Board Game) Doing it on the Table: An Exhibition of Board Games by Digital Designers, Game Developers Conference, San Francisco March

[pile of secrets]
(Video Installation) ZKM_Gameplay Mobile, Representing of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Berlin Nov- Dec

[borders] Series (video installation) Media Arts Dortmund, Cologne November

[borders] Series (video installation) Machinigglitch, ARCADE, Festival Gamerz 9, Aix on Provence France

Layoff (Computer Game) The Games of Art, Block Gallery Queensland Australia 23 July -2 August

Play Your Place: Play Southend (Public Art Video Game in collaboration with Ruth Catlow as Local Play UK) Launching at the METAL Village Green Festival, UK July 2013

[mapscotch] (Public Street Game) Free Play, ICI, Henry Gallery Seattle June


Flanagan, Mary. “Video Games and Gaming Culture.” Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender: SPACE. Ed. Hedblad, Alan and Kooistra, Alja. New York: Macmillan, 2018.

Flanagan, Mary. “Critical Play and Responsible Design.” The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities. Ed. Jentery Sayers. New York: Routledge 2018.

Flanagan, Mary. “An Alternate History of Wargaming.” Zones of Control. Pat Harrigan and Matthew Kirschenbaum, eds. (MIT Press 2016), pp 703-707.

Flanagan, Mary. “Critical Play: The Productive Paradox.” Blackwell Companion to Digital Art, ed. Christiane Paul New York: Blackwell, 2016, pp. 445-460.

Flanagan, Mary. “The Ludification of Culture  & Playful Aesthetics.” Gameful World, Ed. S. Walz and Sebastian Deterding. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2015.

Flanagan, Mary. “The Bride Stripped Bare.” Reprinted in: Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, edited by Patrick Keilty and Rebecca Dean. Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books, 2013.

Flanagan, Mary. “Play, Participation, and Art: Blurring the Edges.” Context Providers. Eds. Margot Lovejoy, Christiane Paul, Victoria Vesna. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press (Intellect Press), 2011.

Speaking engagements

Recent featured Keynotes

2019   “Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan: On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds,” Conversations on the Edge, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 18 April



“Interactive Narrative and Game Mechanics in Design and Culture,“ GameZ & RuleZ Symposium, Zurich 9 November


“Change right now,” World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers Meeting in San Francisco 21 March


“Game Changers: Playing Gaming for Good,” World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos Switzerland 25 January



“Games for Global Justice,” Games to Inspire in Youth Work and Global Development Education, Tipperary Ireland


“Making Play Matter: Games for Social Good,” Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence Symposium (IGGI), York UK September


“Evidence Based Design,” Games for Change Festival, New York City, 31 July – 2 Aug


“VIVE la Révolution,” 48th International Simulation and Gaming Association (ISAGA) conf Delft July


“Special Address: Playing Colonialism,” Board Game Studies Colloquium, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 17-20 May  


“Othering Algorithms,” Cornell’s “Skin Practice”: Society for the Humanities Fellows' Workshop 14 April


“Working Interventions,” UCLA Art|Sci Leonardo Art Science Rendezvous (LASER) 23 February 

“Connected Play,” Oxford Internet Institute's Connected Life conference Oxford UK 21 June

“Critical Games,” Berkeley Center for New Media's History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series March 

“Critical Play and Embedded Design,” Carnegie Mellon February

“Identity in Gaming,” Teacher’s College at Columbia University, Sexuality Women and Gender project and the Office of Diversity Affairs at Teachers College February

“Games that Change the World:  What’s Possible?” Bergen Norway Public Library, September

“Ludics Seminar,” Department of the Classics, Harvard University September

“Embedded Design for Social Innovation,” Segal Design Institute on December 2nd to give a talk in the Segal Seminar Series, December

“Creating a #CrowdCON,” Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing Across the Disciplines. University of Maryland 6-8 May

“The Psychology of Interventionist Design,” School of Visual Arts, March

“Humanist Games: Playful Systems for Critical Thinking,” Fordham Univ. Inaugural Digital Media Lecture Series March 

“Diversity in Audience, Diversity in Creators,” IndieCade East Keynote Talk, American Museum of the Moving Image 15 Feb 

"Values at Play in Smart Technologies,” University of Toronto September

“Games as a Medium,” Games and Gambits in Contemporary Art Panel, College Art Association NYC February  

“Freedom at Play in Digital Games,” Keynote Talk at the Philosophy of Computer Games 2014 Istanbul 13-15 November

“Who Plays?” RE:Humanities’14: Play, Power, Production Keynote Talk Haverford College April 

“How to Think,” Panel, Game Developer’s Conference: Education Summit, San Francisco March

“Teaching Games with Games: Eight Exercises in Play,” Panel, Game Developer’s Conference: Education Summit, San Francisco March

“Games and Gender-Based Violence,” Games for Change Conference NYC April 

“Games for Social Change 2.0,” Games for Change Conference NYC April 

“Playing with your Metadata,” WebWise, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Innovation Conference, Baltimore February

“Making a Difference in and through Playful Design,” Computer Supported Cooperative Work Annual Conference (ACM) Baltimore February

"Humanist Inquiry through Critical Play: Designing and Enacting our Enduring Questions, MIT Comparative Media Studies January

“Designing and Researching Games to Reduce Stereotypes and Biases: A Psychological Approach,” Workshop at Games, Learning and Society Madison WI 13 June 2013

“The Psychology of Games For Change,” Association of Professional Futurists Orlando

“Game Design Curriculum Deathmatch,” Game Developer’s Conference, Education Summit

“Playful Aesthetics,” Video Games Panel, Modern Language Assn Annual Convention Boston

Works in progress

Expert in games for creative expression and social impact using psychological methods. Exhibits at museums and festivals worldwide. Research includes novel ways to address public health, equity, and knowledge creation using games and related systems design. Developed the Values at Play design methodology featured in Values at Play in Digital Games (MIT 2014) with phlosopher Helen Nissenbaum. 

Selected works and activities

Noted commercial board game designer, see