Why Games?

Games, now more than ever, have the power to impact lives. Games and play open people up to new experiences and invite them see things in new ways by engaging through action, perception, and dynamic responses to dynamic systems.

Our mission is to provide access to tools and skill-building for a wide variety of students who are traditionally underrepresented in the games and tech industries, and often marginalized or excluded from discussions about the nature of innovation itself. Our goal is to provide an inclusive and safe space for students from all perspectives to create work approaching difficult topics and exploring new areas for innovation that are of service to their cultures and communities of practice. Areas we explore include but are not limited to:

Games & Personal Narrative
Games & Environment
Games & Learning
Games & Embodiment
Games & Social Practice

Who We Are

Robin Hunicke, Director
Robin Hunicke joined UC Santa Cruz as an Associate Professor in 2014. As founder of the LudoLab, Director of Art & Design: Games & Playable Media undergraduate BA program, and Acting Director of the Digital Arts and New Media MFA program, she is focused on broadening Experimental design & Games Research here within the Arts Division, while supporting & fostering programs in Experimental Gameplay, Innovation & Creative Entrepeneurship.

As a professional game designer with a background in computer science and applied game studies, Robin has shipped several games including The Sims 2: Open for Business, MySims, Steven Spielberg's Boom Blox series for Nintendo Wii, and the award-winning PlayStation title Journey. She co-founded Funomena with the goal of building a diverse, experimental game studio that explored emerging game tecnologies. Her current project Luna focuses on embodiment and emotional connection in VR environments. It will be released this fall, for PC, Oculus, Vive and Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets.

Elizabeth Swensen, Principal Faculty

Elizabeth Swensen is a game designer and Assistant Professor of Art and Design: Games and Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz. Her design work and research explore games for social impact with a focus on metacognitive development, strategy-based learning, and college access. With a background in Classics and Interactive Media, she also uses her games as a vehicle to explore the powerful role language plays in creating and enforcing personal identity.

Marcelo Viana Neto, Lab Assistant

Marcelo Viana Neto is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator interested in how games can help explore socio-economic relations based on solidarity and mutual aid, reveal illegitimate forms of power, and enable creative expression. He was born in Sete Lagoas, Brazil and has been a resident of California since 2002. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design with high distinction from the California College of the Arts and an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from the University of California, Santa Cruz.