Creative Writing



Ghost Sentence has just been released from Atmosphere Press, a new press founded by one of the executive editors of Gold Wake Press, Nick Courtright. The book traverses the political sea change of the 2016 election and 2017 inauguration. The text moves from the personal to the political across the volume, from scrambled texts taken from political websites, to historical recreations of dictatorships; from love letters that accompany the excess surreality of consumerism, to unexpected language that breeds rebellion of the heart during an anthropocenic era of human debris and rising tides…
Available in local bookstores and on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon France, etc.

Incendiary, dizzying, deadpan, GHOST SENTENCE is a love letter, an ultimatum, a wildly poetic survival guide to the death throes of the patriarchy, our age of bogus authority, white noise, and disembodied menace. Flanagan’s charged lines shimmer between desire and disaster: “everyone knows it’s not safe to/go out on a brimstone night/ especially with you”; “leaves still cling to the trees but/the sun is telling them to drop dead.” This book coins a new language for a world that blazes all around us. GHOST SENTENCE is brilliant, contemporary to the millisecond. D. NURKSE, author of eleven books of poetry including Love in the Last Days: After Tristan and Iseult (2017), A Night in Brooklyn (2012), The Border Kingdom (2008), and Burnt Island (2006). His recent prizes include a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim fellowship. He has also written on human rights and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Written under the spell of 2016 election and under the weather of our local dictator’s inauguration, GHOST SENTENCE plunges into the chaos to give us a core sampling, deeply personal and political. Our sentence may be dire, but the phantom grammars, crypt words, semantic branchings, and spectral logics of this hauntology resist the consumerist doublespeak of now. Flanagan’s “voracious mouth” playfully spews “a hot core of knowing” at lovers and dictators alike. She weaponizes poetic structures by loading them with history, philosophy, theory, heart, humor, and an intimate sense of you. Yes, you were waiting for this book. CHRISTINE HUME, author of Musca Domestica (2000), Alaskaphrenia (2004), and Shot (2010), Hume is also Professor of English at the Creative Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University.

These poems begin with personal concerns which find themselves afloat and submerged in the currents of today’s political waters. “_Are you near_ or / _Can you swim?_” Mary Flanagan asks, posting updates with God, wondering at America’s endless varieties of toilet paper and fake news, and meeting a vampire who is neither teen, nor paranormal, nor romantic. GHOST SENTENCE makes something hauntingly real out of several sorts of profound, contemporary crises. NICK MONTFORT, author of Autopia (2016), the collaboration 2×6 (2016), #! (2014), and The Truelist (2017). He is Professor of Media Studies/Writing at MIT.

Grief at a lost love, and grief and fury at a lost America, power Mary Flanagan’s compelling, original Ghost Sentence. The private and the public merge: a personal voice and sensibility reacting to a lost, terribly flawed personal love (no less missed because flawed); and a grief-stricken, rage-fueled depiction of what it’s like to be living though this American moment. Ghost Sentence is passionate, original, and oddly bracing—a book not to be missed. PATRICIA CARLIN, author of Second Nature(2017), Quantum Jitters(2009) and Original Green 2003), as well as Shakespeare’s Mortal Men (1993). She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and VCCA. She teaches literature and poetry writing at The New School, and she co-edits the poetry journal Barrow Street.


Find poems published elsewhere:

“Substance A always reacts to Substance B,” “The One and the Multiple”

“Being Transformed into a Phoenix,” “Enough,” “Parking Lot at Whole Foods,” in Heavy Feather Volume Seven 2017

“They Always Come,”“Death of My Dungeonmaster,” in Barrow Street 2013-2014 Annual Issue

Poems: “And by taking your hand,” “Camouflage,” “The Secret of Nights and Days,” “Desire is Rarely Fulfilled,” “From One End of the Map to the Other,” in Fence 2015

“hoisting the lower saints” in The Pinch 2012

“enthroned on the seat that sees into all worlds” and “the nature of judgment,” in the 2011 annual issue of Barrow Street

“something more remains mysterious,” in MUDFISH 17 2011

“the abstract injunction,” “ministering a stream” and “window” in Saranac Review, Issue 6, Fall 2010.

“the only point of rupture.” Open Windows III: An Anthology of Poetry, Fiction + Essays, ed. Matthew Davis. Denver, CO: Ghost Road Press, 2008.

“ministering a flood (update with god I)” and “ministering a tornado (update with god II),” in Barrow Street December 2007

“a pure subjective commitment is possible,” and “insubstantial stuff of pure being,” The Iowa Review in December 2007

“Simple Prisoners,” in Chronogram March 2007

“for Michel Heizer,” in Chronogram January 2007



Tales from Minervia

The tales are taken from the world of the MONARCH board game, a past/future in which majestic and wise leaders rule a highly developed civilization


New_print_coverfront_jing-tinyiconThe Book of Jing I: Withholding Agent

The Book of Jing is the mystery graphic novel created with Jonathan Jay Lee in which friends find a dead body and become embroiled in international intrigue.



Fiction: “A private correspondence to David Theurer: Written by H. P. Lovecraft, 12th January 1919, released by Mary D. Flanagan.” Well Played. Ed. D. Davidson. Pittsburgh: CMU/ETC Press 2009, 276-291 See: Tempest – Mary D. Flanagan | ETC Press

Scholarly Books


Cambridge: The MIT Press 2014

VALUES AT PLAY IN DIGITAL GAMES All games express and embody human values, providing a compelling arena in which we play out beliefs and ideas. “Big ideas” such as justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation—as well as other kinds of ideas, including violence, exploitation, and greed— may emerge in games whether designers intend them or not. In this book, Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum present Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. Values at Play can also serve as a guide to designers who seek to implement values in the conception and design of their games. After developing a theoretical foundation for their proposal, Flanagan and Nissenbaum provide detailed examinations of selected games, demonstrating the many ways in which values are embedded in them. They introduce the Values at Play heuristic, a systematic approach for incorporating values into the game design process. Interspersed among the book’s chapters are texts by designers who have put Values at Play into practice by accepting values as a design constraint like any other, offering a real-world perspective on the design challenges involved.

Values at Play in Digital Games is an invaluable toolbox for understanding the values embedded in existing games and for making new games that express the values we believe in. Jesper Juul, video game theorist; author of Half-Real and The Art of Failure

Values at Play in Digital Games gives the reader a powerful set of tools for examining the cultural, ethical, and political meanings of video games, and reminds us that a consideration of the values embodied in digital play is an integral part of the game design process.Richard Lemarchand, Associate Professor, University of Southern California; Lead Designer, Uncharted


Cambridge: The MIT Press 2009

book_criticalplayFor many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But what if certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but a means for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? In Critical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games—games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry—and argues that games designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.
Flanagan provides a lively historical context for critical play through twentieth-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art: her examples of “playing house” include Dadaist puppet shows and The Sims; her discussion of language play includes puns, palindromes, Yoko Ono’s Instruction Paintings, and Jenny Holzer’s messages in LED. Flanagan also looks at artists’ alternative computer-based games, examining projects from Persuasive Games and Gonzalo Frasca and other games created through the use of interventionist strategies in the design process. And she explores games for change, considering the way activist concerns—among them Darfur, worldwide poverty, and AIDS—can be incorporated into game design.
Arguing that this kind of conscious practice—which now constitutes the avant-garde of the computer game medium—can inspire new working methods for designers, Flanagan offers a model for designing that will encourage the subversion of popular gaming tropes through new styles of game making, and proposes a theory of alternate game design that focuses on the reworking of contemporary popular game practices.
Read the first chapter and see more at the MIT Press website.

In Critical Play, Flanagan uncovers a secret history of games buried deep inside folk culture, experimental media, and the world of art. Critical Play should be required reading for anyone who cares about the cultural importance and future potential of games.
Eric Zimmerman, game designer and co-author of Rules of Play

Mary Flanagan has written a marvelous book in Critical Play. As an artist and scholar, Flanagan examines play through sources that range from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and Johan Huizinga to Marcel Duchamp and the often-overlooked Roger Caillois. Flanagan examines games and play from dollhouses to board games, from Alberto Giacometti to Fluxus, enabling us to see what it is that makes play critical. The core issue of the book is creating forms of play that ask important questions about human life. After a grand romp through the territory and history of play, Flanagan provides a crisp practical theory in her game design model. What a book! I’m ready to shake the dice and start again.
Ken Friedman, Professor, Dean, Faculty of Design Swinburne University of Technology, Australia


Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, eds.
Cambridge: The  MIT Press 2006

book_reskinre:skin is a collection of fiction and theory engaging with issues that surround the technological manipulation of the body. From plastic surgery to fur implants, from illegal tattooing to skin grafts, the use of technology to alter the physical body is, for women writers, less a tool for empowerment than a means to construct alternative, multiple selves. Bodily boundaries are malleable, and bodily markers which distinguish bodies are reprogrammable. The pieces gathered re:skin claim that the technologically mutable body is neither simply liberating nor limiting, but offers instead narratives of ways of living in, and adapting to, a technological culture.
Preview the table of contents, and see more at the MIT Press website.


reload: rethinking women + cyberculture.

Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, eds.
Cambridge: The MIT Press 2002

book_reloadcoverThe co-edited collection reload is a volume which mixes women’s cyberpunk fiction (by CL Moore, Octavia Butler, Laura J. Mixon) with theoretical investigations into cyber cultural aspects such as web communities, fan culture, subjectivity in computer games, cinematic representations of cyborgs, and artists’ technological projects. Winner of the 2003 Susan Koppelman Award given by the Joint Women’s Caucus of the Popular Culture/American Culture. MIT Press website


Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri:(SIMilarities, Symbols, Simulacra)

Matteo Bittanti and Mary Flanagan
Milan: Edizioni Unicopli, 2003

book_simscoverThis co-authored book, in Italian, explores domestic space, player experience, and the fan culture of The Sims

Selected Articles

Academic Essays (more articles on game related research @

Flanagan, M. and Kaufman, G. “Shifting Implicit Biases with Games using Psychology: The Embedded Design Approach. Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Perspectives on Gender, Race, & Sexuality in Gaming, eds Yasmin Kafai, Gabriela Coleman, & Brendesha Tynes. (2016, CMU/ETC).
The entire book is a free PDF! yay.

Flanagan, Mary. “Gender and Gaming Theory.” Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender, SPACE. Ed. Hedblad, Alan and Kooistra, Alja. (Forthcoming Macmillan Reference USA 2017).

Flanagan, M. “Critical Play and Responsible Design.” The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities. Ed. Jentery Sayers. (Routledge 2017).

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

Flanagan, Mary. “Games as a Medium.” Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon. Eds. Raiforn Guins and Henry Lowood. (MIT Press 2016).

Flanagan, Mary. “Game Art.” Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon. Eds. Raiforn Guins and Henry Lowood. (MIT Press 2016).

Flanagan, Mary. “Critical Play: The Productive Paradox.” Blackwell Companion to Digital Art, ed. Christiane Paul (Blackwell/Wiley, 2016).

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

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. (2015).

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 4(4) 2015.

Manzo, C., Kaufman, G., Punjasthitkul, S., and Flanagan, M. “By the People, For the People: Assessing Value of Crowdsourced, User-Generated Metadata,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9(1) 2015.

Kaufman, G., Flanagan, M., and Seidman, M.  “Creating Stealth Game Interventions for Attitude and Behavior Change:  An ‘Embedded Design’ Model.” Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) 2015

Seidman, M., Flanagan, M., and Kaufman, G.  “Failed Games:  Lessons Learned from Promising but Problematic Game Prototypes in Designing for Diversity. Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) 2015

Kaufman, Geoff, Mary Flanagan, & Sukdith Punjasthitkul, “Comparing the Impact of ‘Emphasis Frames’ on Player Motivation and Performance in a Crowdsourcing Game,” Proceedings of Meaningful Play 2014

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

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, M., Seidman, M., Punjasthitkul, S., Kaufman, G. and Carini, P. “Citizen Archivists at Play: Game Design for  Gathering Metadata for Cultural Heritage Institutions.” Proceedings of DiGRA 2013 Atlanta Georgia.

Essays Translated to Spanish Download the e-book!
La novia desnudada hasta sus mismísimos datos: flujo de información + digicuerpos.
X0y1: #ensayos sobre género y ciberespacio__. Coordinadora Remedios Zafra, Traduce Natalia Pérez-Galdós. Madrid: Arte Género Ciberespacio, 2010, pp. 12-48.

Identidades móviles, estrellas digitales y yoes postcinemáticos.
X0y1: #ensayos sobre género y ciberespacio__.
Coordinadora Remedios Zafra, Traduce Natalia Pérez-Galdós. Madrid: Arte Género Ciberespacio, 2010, pp. 118 -136.

How games can help us access and understand cultural artifacts..
American Archivist 75(2), pp. 514-537, with Peter Carini, 2012.

Exploring the Creative Potential of Values Conscious Design: Students’ Experiences with the VAP Curriculum. Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture, with Jonathan Belman, 2010.

Designing Games to Foster Empathy.
Cognitive Technology 14(2) 2009, with Jonathan Belman

Instructional Methods and Curricula for Values Conscious Design.
Loading: The Official Journal of the Canadian Games Studies Association3(4), with Jonathan Belman and Helen Nissenbaum 2009.

Play, Participation, and Art: Blurring the Edges.
Context Providers.
Margot Lovejoy, Christiane Paul, Victoria Vesna, eds. Bristol, UK: Intellect Press, 2010

An Appreciation on the Impact of the work of Sonia Landy Sheridan.
The Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan.
Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art, 2009, 37-42.

Anxiety, Openness, and Activist Games: A Case Study for Critical Play.
Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association
with Anna Lotko, Uxbridge UK, 2009

Creating Critical Play
Artists Rethinking Games.
Eds Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett, and Corrado Morgana. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010, 49-53.

The Sims: Suburban Utopias.
Space Time Play. Synergies Between Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism
Eds. Friedrich von Borries, Walz, Steffen P. Walz, Mattias Böttger. Birkhauser Publishing, Basel Boston Berlin, 2007, 150-152.

RAPUNSEL: How a computer game designed based on educational theory can improve girls’ self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Proceedings of the American Educational Research Association
Plass, J. L, Goldman, R., Flanagan, M., Diamond, J., Dong, C., Looui, S., Hyuksoon Song, H., Rosalia, C. & Perlin, K. Chicago, April 2007

Locating Play and Politics: Real World Games and Political Action
Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference
Perth Australia Dec 2007

A Game Design Methodology to Incorporate Social Activist Themes.
Proceedings of CHI 2007
with Helen Nissenbaum; New York, NY: ACM Press, 181 – 190

Rethinking the F Word: A Review of Activist Art on the Internet
National Women’s Studies Association Journal (Special Issue: Feminist Activist Art) Volume 19, Number 1 with Suyin Looui, Spring 2007, 181-200

Feminist Art Activist Roundtable
National Women’s Studies Association Journal (Special Issue: Feminist Activist Art)
Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2007.

My Profile, Myself in Playculture
Exploring Digital Artefacts
Johan Bornebusch and Patrik Hernwall, Editors. M3 Publication, 2006, 20-29

Making Games for Social Change
AI & Society: The Journal of Human-Centered Systems
Springer London: Springer, 20(1), January 2006

The ‘Nature’ of Networks: Space and Place in the Silicon Forest
Nature et progrès : interactions, exclusions, mutations
Ed. Pierre Lagayette. Paris : Presses de l’Université. Paris-Sorbonne, 2006

New Design Methods for Activist Gaming
Proceedings from DiGRA 2005
Mary Flanagan, D.C. Howe, Helen Nissenbaum
16-20 June, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Troubling ‘Games for Girls’: Notes from the Edge of Game Design
Proceedings from DiGRA 2005
16-20 June, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Values at Play: Design Tradeoffs in Socially-Oriented Game Design
Proceedings of the CHI 2005 conference on Human factors in computing systems
with Howe and Nissenbaum, CHI 2005, 2-7 April, Portland, Oregon

Une Maison de Poupee Virtuelle Capitaliste? The Sims: Domesticite, Consommation, et Feminite
Consommations & Sociétés: Cahiers pluridisciplinaire sur la consommation et l’interculturel
Ed. Mélanie Roustan et Dominique Desjeux

The bride stripped bare to her Data: information flow and digibodies
Data Made Flesh
Thurtle et al. 2003

Next Level: Women’s Digital Activism through Gaming
Digital Media Revisited
Edited by Andrew Morrison, Gunnar Liestøl & Terje Rasmussen, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003, 359 – 388

Developing Virtual Performance Spaces
American Puppetry
Ed. Phyllis T. Dircks. New York: Theatre Library Association, 2004

Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance
reload: rethinking women + cyberculture
Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002, 425-454

navigable narratives: gender +narrative spatiality in virtual worlds
Art Journal
Vol 59 no. 3, Fall 2000, 74 – 85

Response to Celia Pearce: About Computer Gaming
First Person
Ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan. Cambridge: MIT Press

Mobile Identities, Digital Stars, & Post-Cinematic Selves
Wide Angle: Issue on Digitality & the Memory of Cinema
21:3, 1999

Digital Stars Are Here to Stay
convergence: the journal of research into new media technologies
Eds. Julia Knight + Alexis Weedon, University of Luton, Summer 1999. Print and Internet

Spatialized MagnoMemories
Culture Machine 3 – Virologies: Culture and Contamination
Eds. David Boothroyd and Gary Hall. 2001


Op-Eds & Journalism

Journalism and Opinion

 “In defense of Solitaire, the “perfect game”: Mindfulness, video games and the importance of downtime.”, 20 August 2017

“It’s Been a Bad Week for Inclusion in Tech,” Role Reboot  9 August 2017

Mary Flanagan and Mary Hudson, “The Trouble with Whiteboard Interviews,” Concord Monitor 21 December 2015

“Egalitarian Entrepreneurship?” The Huffington Post 24 March 2015

“Creative Solutions to Crises — Through Play.” The Huffington Post. 2014.

HuffPost-2014-darkSideOf-Play“Violent Video Games Reveal the Dark Side of Play. The Huffington Post  2014.

“Don’t Demonize Video Games for Violence.” USA Today 2014.

ChicagoSunTimesRepublished in:
Chicago Sun Times 25 July 2014,
Wassau Daily Herald 26 July 2014,
My Central Jersey 26 July 2014;

Published as:
– “Video games much more than violent,” Guam Pacific Daily News 26 July 2014;
– “Video-game violence overblown,” The Daily Record California 26 July 2014

Technology as a classroom distraction for students (essay) @insidehighered 2“The Classroom as Arcade,” Inside Higher Education 2014

ozyEssayCrowdsourcing“Expanding our Wikiverse: How You Can Save Libraries With Just a Few Clicks.”, 27 May 2014

Video game industry needs to be more gender inclusive - SFGate“Video Game Industry Needs To Be More Gender Inclusive.” San Francisco Chronicle 2014

“By 2020, Make the Game Industry 50/50.” Gamasutra 2014

“Why the Pinkification of Children’s Toys Hurts Women,” The Daily Beast  2014, http://www.