Video Games, Narrative, and Sexuality

Having defended her dissertation in the spring of 2019, Dr. Cody Mejeur has accepted a two-year position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Game Studies in the Department of Media Study at the University of Buffalo. At UB, Cody will teach primarily within the Game Studies Certificate program, including courses on game design, gender and games, and gaming cultures. Dr. Mejur will also teach courses in queer and feminist digital media and digital humanities as part of UB’s Digital Scholarship Studio and Network.

Dr. Mejeur commented recently on the opportunities of this new position: “I’m most excited to be teaching games courses with an explicit focus on identity, community, and social justice, particularly in terms of gender, sexuality, and race. I look forward to working with students to design and develop games that address community and cultural issues, empowering them to find their voices and tell their own stories.”

At UB, Dr. Mejeur is joining a cutting-edge and legendary Department. For more on the history of UB’s groundbreaking Department of Media Study, see Buffalo Heads: Media Study, Media Practice, Media Pioneers, 1973-1990.

The interdisciplinary strengths of the doctoral program in English at MSU, Cody explains, “were essential for my work and helped me become the scholar and designer I am today. The program allowed me to not only study video games alongside literature, but also pursue studies in digital humanities, cognitive humanities, and feminist and queer studies. That sounds like a lot because it is, but each area played a crucial role in helping me understand how narrative functions in new media. The program was also supportive of my work across departments, including design projects with Media & Information scholars, workshops in the DH@MSU network, and gaming events with the Game Studies Guild, a group that I founded with Jonah Magar at the MSU Library. My job at UB requires working across several departments, networks, and centers, and I know my interdisciplinary training in English at MSU was crucial to making me a competitive candidate.”

Dr. Mejeur also credits her success on the job market to her training in programming and coding languages (specifically HTML, CSS, and C#), digital humanities tools (Voyant, ImagePlot, amCharts), and game design software (Unity, Twine). “Many advisors and colleagues had told me that getting a job in game studies requires knowing both how to study games and how to make them, and MSU English provided many opportunities in terms of coursework and funding to pick up the skills I needed to do so. I highly recommend the Digital Humanities and Serious Games graduate certificates, as well as fellowship programs such as the Cultural Heritage Informatics fellowship.”

Currently, Dr. Mejeur is working on two research projects. “My primary project examines narrative in video games––specifically how narrative in games has been limited and used to exclude the stories of women, people of color, and queer folks. In response to these issues in gaming cultures and game studies, I use case studies in games and digital humanities tools to propose that narrative is best understood as an embodied cognitive process of organizing and making sense of our different experiences. This theory of narrative centers how our uses and experiences of stories are playful and different, and suggests strategies for using narrative to build more socially just realities. A second project I am working on in collaboration with the Empathic Games Initiative at MSU is Trans Folks Walking, a narrative video game that explores different trans experiences such as choosing which bathroom to use, navigating institutional spaces such as schools and churches, and more.”