Inspired by Valentine's Day, this collection centers around connections. These connections are not just the ones shared between people, but also between people and the virtual world. In this collection, we examine these different relationships: the intimacy generated between video game characters and players; the effects on intimacy video games have had on us and how we can further promote those feelings; and how the virtual world can act as a conduit to build the connections between people.


Bishōjo Games: Techno-Intimacy and the Virtually Human in Japan
This longing for humanity is perhaps at the heart of the desire for technology, and also bishōjo games, which celebrate the virtual humanity of the female characters, the expressivity of the non-human.

The Gamification of Intimacy Through Dating Sims
One could see dating sims make an impact in our general outlook on intimacy with regards to convenience, acting as a solution for systemic loneliness, and potential safe spaces. The benefits of this technology seem like useful supplementary tools for social interaction, but these dating sims are not without their potential adverse impacts.

Reading for Intimate Affects in Contemporary Video Games
When we think of pleasures to be found in video games, we often talk about power, control, agency, and fun. But to center these pleasures is to privilege certain stories, players, actions and possibility spaces. This thesis uses the framework of intimacy to closely examine three games for their capacity to create pleasure in vulnerability, the loss of control, dependence on others, and precarity.


The Hidden Truth of Human Connection
Executive coach Dan Foxx discusses how people can form better connections with each other: by learning to let go of our egos and focusing on what others need.

The Intimacy of Everyday Objects
YouTuber Jacob Geller discusses the ways video game design can promote a greater intimacy, or immersion, into and between their worlds and the players.

How Can Games Bring Us Together?
The benefits of video games as a way to connect people are discussed. This idea is especially prevalent in a time where quarantine restrictions make it difficult to see others in person.



I Love You, Colonel Sanders!

The most delicious dating simulator created. A game that also serves as an interesting marketing scheme for KFC, this parody provides a light-hearted entry to the dating sim genre. Can you get Colonel Sanders to love you?


Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Explore the galaxy with your friends! This game is a colorful co-op action space shooter that encourages teamwork as you fight against the evil forces of Anti-Evil and save kidnapped space bunnies. A reminder of the ways that the virtual world strengthens our connections to each other.



Get some noodles for your friend. Trippy puzzles and an adjacent-to-reality atmosphere permeate the game and prevent you from getting all the necessary noodle ingredients. A little strange, but a reminder of the things we put up with to care for the people we love.




The RPG game where you don't have to destroy anyone. First released in 2015, this game rose to critical acclaim and has remained a favorite with gamers. A game where the relationships you make determine your ending, and encourages you to be kind when the world is not.


It's winter! The days are colder, the nights are longer, and now you have an excuse to cozy up against the fireplace and play video games. Well, that is if you're in the Northern hemisphere—however, our Southern friends who are missing out on the snow can also join in on this collection's fun. From trying to prevent hypothermia to frolicking around in the snow, we've tried to capture the chilly coziness and fun this season offers in this month's collection.


Video Games and the Power of Winter
Using the season to show change and balance between natural and designed architecture, to create breath-taking vistas with winter-affected landscape accuracy, and to use symbology effectively, result in places that may only offer the bones of the landscape to the eye, yet are actually full of meaning. They are genuine meaningful representations of winter, not landscapes in denial.

The Impact of Temperature on Gaming Productivity
Overall, our analysis suggests that both high temperatures and low temperatures strongly affect human time allocation and productivity. Whereas the growing attention to climate change draws more interests to the impacts of extreme heat, low temperature and extreme cold can also have strong impacts on the economic system.

Nostalgia Maintains Physiological Comfort
Nostalgia is triggered by thermoregulatory discomfort: nostalgia was stronger on colder (vs. warmer) days and in a cold (vs. neutral or warm) room. In turn, nostalgia increases physical warmth: music-evoked nostalgia predicted the physical sensation of warmth, and recalling a nostalgic (vs. ordinary autobiographical) event made a cold room feel warmer.


How Snow and Ice Are Used in Video Games
This video provides a brief breakdown on the impacts of snow and ice in video games. The benefits and pitfalls of snow and ice in establishing the game atmosphere, influencing the physics and mechanical gameplay, what developers can focus on in designing winter levels are, and more, are discussed.

Forget Big Change: Start with a Tiny Habit
In this TEDx Talk, BJ Fogg, social scientist and director of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab discusses the key to lasting change: the repetition of small habits, instead of monumental changes. A good watch for those who want to fulfill their New Year's resolutions.

How Ski Warfare Created the Biathlon
This video provides a brief history of how biathlon, a winter sport that combines skiiing with rifle shooting, evolved and became a part of the Winter Olympics.



Never Alone

Explore the Arctic through the eyes of Nuna and Fox as you race to discover the source of the eternal blizzard. Known as Kisima Ingitchuna in the Inupiaq language, this game is based off the rich storytelling traditions of the Inupiat, a group of Alaska Natives. Interviews with members of the Alaska Native community interspersed throughout the game also allows you to learn as you play.


Imagined Leviathan

You're journeying alone through post-climate change Britain, where the threat of freezing to death and a sinister presence lurking in the woods reminds us of winter's darker aspects. The less-is-more approach to game design offers a novel way to experience the survival horror genre.



Enjoy the soft pastels of the winter landscape as you search for your lost spoons. A relaxing game for those who miss the quiet tranquility of walking in the snow, Spoons offers cozy graphics to accompany your aimless mental wandering and reflections.



Build This Snowman

Unleash your creativity as you build the snowpeople of your dreams! Or your nightmares...A game for those who can't partake in this favorite seasonal activity, this piece also incorporates snow physics to give you a taste of the real thing.


For this collection, we've decided to highlight awareness on some of the overlooked perspectives in history and video games. POC, women, and the LGBTQ+ communities have little representation in the gaming community and industry, despite comprising a significant portion of gamers. As such, much of the read and watch media chosen below discusses the trials of finding and presenting accurate, respectful representation for POC, women, and he LGBTQ+ communities in games, and why it is important that we continue to strive for such diversity. The games in the play component were chosen to help highlight the experiences of these groups. This collection is not meant to be fully representative of these communities's experiences—there is so much more that can, and should, be discussed than our monthly sets can cover. We only hope that we were able to highlight some of the work produced by POC, women, and LGBTQ+ creators, and encourage you to seek more out on your own.


It's Your Journey: Native Innovation in Video Game
For Native communities, LaPensee's games are powerful tools for a virtual environment, people experience memories and history in a controllable way, progressing—or pausing—at their own pace.

Using Video Games in Diversity and Inclusive Education
Dynamic in-game environments that react to input allow players to adopt the roles and viewpoints of different people or groups in a uniquely immersive way. Video games could thus support educational courses and programs whose objective is to foster empathy, raise awareness, and take real action in hopes of making social change.

Where Is the Queerness in Games?
As a first step toward accounting for the complexity and depth of LGBTQ game content, this article offers an overview of the many forms LGBTQ content takes in games and explores some of the challenges in classifying game content as LGBTQ relevant.


Color Coded: Race, Gender, and Representation in Video Games
Toronto journalist and activist Andray Domise discusses the importance of having accurate minority representation and diversity in video games.

Ms. Male Character - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
This video discusses the Ms. Male Character trope in video games, where a female version of an established male character is created, and whose character is primarily defined by their relationship to their male counterpart.

Looking For Love from Fallout to Dream Daddy
In this video, the complex history of gay relationships is examined. The role of narrative and gameplay mechanics have in othering and normalizing gay relationships is also discussed.



The Cat and the Coup

Watch history unfold from the eyes of a cat. Help Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, relive the events leading up the CIA engineered coup of his downfall. A game for those who like history, and a reminder of what does and what doesn't appear in US history books.


When Rivers Were Trails

Point and click your way west to California from Minnesota, playing as an Anishinaabeg forcibly displaced from their traditional homeland in the 1890s. A game that looks into the effects of colonization and displacement of Native communities, and another reminder of what our history books fail to mention.


One Night, Hot Springs Trilogy

Play as a trio of best friends navigating their gender identities and sexualities, all while supporting each other. Viewed through Japanese cultural lens, this series also provides an alternative perspective on societal expectations towards gender and sexuality.






Your Dry Delight

Explore the criminal underbelly of Prohibition Era NYC, and perhaps find love along the way. This game reminds us that LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of history, and its relative levity also reminds us that there are more to marginalized people's stories than their struggles.

Fall Into Fall

What do you think of when October comes around? Spooky skeletons? Pumpkin spice lattes? Jack-o-lanterns? Leaves changing color? No matter how you spend your fall days, it’s hard to argue that the colder weather doesn’t provide the perfect excuse to laze around indoors playing video games. From tension building horror games to cozy autumn adventures, we’ve tried to capture the best parts of October in this month’s collection.



USC Experts Explain the Science of Fright
So why might we subject ourselves to these frightful ordeals? The answer lies within both the mind and the body…

Video Games and the Change of Autumn
Autumn's transitional nature enables it to offer different aesthetics and atmospheres - perfectly encapsulating our often-mixed feelings about the season. This flux occurs in games, too: storyline changes; mysterious plotlines, character and atmosphere intricacies; constant environmental transformations; and a powerful sense of mystery, story-foretelling and landscape-opening are all harnessed to be used as game-changing devices.

Things That Go Bump in the Literature
“Haunted houses” could be among the oldest problems in environmental psychology, i.e., the scientific study of the transactions and interrelationships between people and their surroundings.


Lessons from a Terrified Horror Researcher
Horror researcher Mathias Clasen discusses the science of why we enjoy scaring ourselves half to death. 

Redesigning Death
This video examines the various ways player death can be constructed, and the way the death impacts the progression of the game. 

Control, Anatomy, and the Legacy of the Haunted House
This video examines the way haunted houses--the variety in which the house itself is a haunted being, as opposed to being haunted by extraneous beings, e.g. poltergeists--can serve as autonomous beings and antagonists in horror games.




Among Us

You’re on a spaceship living out your astronaut dream! But some of the crewmates aren’t what they seem… First released in 2018, Among Us has seen a huge jump in popularity this year. This surge is probably due to the onset of the current pandemic--the game fills the void of socialization brought about by social distancing.



Travel the world, build your ship, and learn how to say good-bye in this cozy management game about dying. Spiritfarer handles the topics of death and change realistically but compassionately--this, in tandem with current events, has likely contributed to its rise in popularity.



The sound of rain washes over you as you explore the world. A game for those who miss the fall weather of campus, and who need a quiet space to reflect and let your mind wander aimlessly. Sometimes we need a break from the world.



Lieve Oma

Take a break and hunt for mushrooms among the delightful fall foliage with your grandmother! A game for those who miss the bright autumn leaves of campus, and to help us remember and reflect on those who shaped us to be the people we are today.



Deep Sleep Trilogy

Horror games for people who don’t like horror games. Point and click your way out of the dreamworld in this captivatingly creepy adventure. Best played with the lights off and headphones on.





Pedagogy and Play

The StudioLab is a creative technology space, established by the Council on Science and Technology to nurture interdisciplinary learning. It is a beginner-friendly environment for exploring the arts, humanities, and sciences through hands-on experiences. It is because of these values that the StudioLab also celebrates play, and subsequently celebrates games. Although games don’t have to be designed with didactic intentions to be educational, we’ve chosen “Pedagogy and Play” as the first theme for Read / Watch / Play. In this collection, you’ll find a selection of games designed to help the player learn, as well as articles and videos about the gamification of learning processes.



Video Games Don't Have to Be Educational to Spark Learning
“I was bound to learn something, even if just by accident. And I definitely did.”

Gamification as a Tool for Engaging Student Learning
“We are cautiously optimistic about continuing this line of research in the future. Careful manipulation of game mechanisms can have an impact on sustaining and encouraging play via a gamified application.”

How Gamification Motivates
“Gamification can be a powerful solution to address motivational problems within learning or working contexts, as long as they are well designed and are built upon well-established implementation models.”

Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning
“You are likely to learn the most, and enjoy the most, if you are engaged as an active participant, not a passive recipient.”



The Super Mario Effect: Tricking Your Brain Into Learning More
Mark Rober, YouTuber and former NASA engineer, talks about how approaching life like a game can help others learn more and achieve greater success.

Gamification in Education
Dr. Christopher See, lecturer and researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, discusses how he developed a medical examination based escape room, and the ideas behind gamifying education.

Rethinking Engineering Education with Video Games
Dr. Brianno Coller, professor at Northern Illinois University, speaks about how he’s developed and modified video games to integrate into his engineering course curriculum, improving students’ motivation to learn tough concepts.


Solving puzzles is like the process of creation—you try different things, explore various branches, find ideas that work, ideas that don’t, but you eventually end up somewhere. 

Portal 2
Solve puzzles, learn kinetics, and challenge your friends as you blast apart the space-time continuum.

Cell to Singularity
Tap-tap away and play through the history of the evolution of life. Start in the primordial soup and eventually create civilization.

You’re going on a lunar mission in this short demo! But you know what they say about best laid plans…

Nimbatus Drone Creator
If you’re finding it difficult to get your hands on the parts needed to construct robots and drones, or you’re totally new to tinkering and not sure how to start thinking about it, here’s a virtual testing space for all the trial and error you could want. 

Super Sculptor
Explore your artistic side as you create surrealist, mildly unnerving sculptures.