Interactive films, as hybrid between film and games fit comfortably within an array of new media practices designed to produce a more intimate experience of the lives of others, arguing that this proximity fosters “empathy” that in turn leads the player or viewer not just to feel something, but to take stances in their life to foster change. Downtown Browns, winner of the Diversity Challenge organized by Interlude, Tribeca Film Festival and Games for Change is an interactive series of three episodes, which I co-produced with a team of queer women of color that highlights the decisions faced by queer WOC in Los Angeles. The creation of this series allowed us to explore multiple questions around issues of games, interactive media and intersectionality. What does it mean to use interactive media to explore the lives of queer women of color? How might such an approach give greater weight to classic debates in game studies and critical theory between agency and structure? This session argues in addition to the curation of sympathetic feelings and a sense of intimacy through representations that help players/viewers to see queer WOC as inventive, resilient and powerful actors, intersectional games and media should also focus its efforts on mapping out the structural systems of oppression that must be fought against in daily life.
Emilia Yang is an activist, artist, and militant researcher. Her work has been interconnected with digital communications, performance, and public art. Her research focuses on participatory culture and its relationship to media, arts, and design. Yang is currently pursuing a PhD in Media Arts + Practice at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is interested in how transmedia storytelling and postcolonial new media practices can foster social change and civic engagement. Her art practice utilizes site-specific interactive installations, documentaries, fictions, games, performances, and urban interventions to engage participants in political action and discussion. She is a HASTAC 2015-2016 Scholar and member of Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) at USC.