Category Archives: Blog

Killing Me Softly: A Game of Microaggressions

It’s been quiet around here lately as all of the CUNY Games Network folks have been working on summer projects (or perhaps wandering the streets of NYC playing Pokemon Go?). I haven’t had as much time to game as I’d like, but a terrific serious game came my way the other day that I wanted to share.

Librarian Fobazi M. Ettarh just released her game Killing Me Softly: A game demonstrating how it feels to suffer microaggressions and acculturative stress day after day. Full disclosure: I playtested this game while Fobazi was developing it, and the final version is even better than the beta.

Killing Me Softly is a web-based text game that uses the Choose Your Own Adventure format to allow players to navigate through the lives of a character as they experience microaggressions, which are “commonly defined as brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults.” Players can choose one of two characters: Alex, a white, able-bodied, gay man with a large social circle; or Leslie, a Black, straight, disabled, woman who has a partner. As you move through Alex’s or Leslie’s days — including interactions with friends, coworkers, and strangers — you make choices that affect subsequent experiences and choices, choices that narrow as the microaggressions mount.

Like many serious games, Killing Me Softly does not have a happy ending — a happy ending isn’t the goal. This game does a fantastic job of showing how microaggressions are experienced and accumulate over the course of days, weeks, and months for many including people of color, LGBT+ folks, and disabled folks. It would be great as a teaching game — a single playthrough takes about 15 minutes, and playing through both characters multiple times effectively demonstrates that, while making choices about each character’s response leads to different outcomes initially, microaggressions are persistent. I highly recommend this game, why not head over to Killing Me Softly and give it a try?

Revolutionary Learning Conference–Register By Next Tuesday 7/5

Dear CUNY friends,

The CUNY Games Network is teaming up with Excelsior College to bring you another Games Conference this August, and if you register by Tuesday July 5th, all CUNY members can attend for only $150. But you must register by next Tuesday night. See the full announcement below.


The CUNY Games Network Directors (Joe Bisz, Kathleen Offenholley, Rob Duncan, Carlos Hernandez, Julie A. S. Cassidy, Maura Smale, and Deborah Sturm).

Join the revolution!- and register for this Revolutionary Learning 2016 Inspiration and Collaboration through Games Conference, this August 17-19 2016 at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, just up the road from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Participate in CUNY led sessions by Joe Bisz and Kathleen Offenholley (BMCC), Rob Duncan (York College), Deborah Sturm (Staten Island), as well as Lee Sheldon of The Multiplayer Classroom, Nick Fortugno from Parsons and Diner Dash fame, Dr. Michael Levine from Sesame Street Workshop, and a host of other speakers, including hands on sessions.
You will be able to participate in a small learning team and build your own onsite game to be pitched in the closing award ceremonies moderated by NYU professor and start designer Eric Zimmerman. Additionally, a Revolutionary New York Game Arcade will allow attendees time to play educational games, speak with designers, and see live demos from cutting edge independent companies incubated by three of the country’s top universities: NYU, RPI and RIT.Register by Tuesday at midnight for only $150 –a savings of $300! off the regular price–by contacting Conference Chair Dr. David Seelow, directly at his email (or calling 518-608-8242 if you cannot email).

U. Maryland opens call for abstracts for In Play

Albert Einstein wrote, “Play is the highest form of research.” In Play, a one-day conference, explores play as the principle of innovation and experimentation that underwrites gaming, performance, and other cultural, social, and aesthetic activities. Key questions In Play poses include: How can the study of computer gaming, in line with studies of other cultural forms and productions, contribute to culture studies in the academy? How have embodied performance and play historically enabled possibilities for both freedom and domination, for the making as well as unmaking of societies? How does a focus on play complicate recent scholarship on the global history of experimental art forms?

In Play invites proposals for posters and demonstrations—conceived as tabletop presentations involving any type of media—that investigate the question of play. We especially encourage digital projects that supplement or link to posters, as well as mixed media presentations, performances, games (both digital and tabletop) and research projects. Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty proposals are welcome. Potential interventions in play might include:

Play in literature and literature as play
Playing with gender, sexuality, race, class, or (dis)ability
Mathematical, technological, and scientific discoveries
New Media
Gaming and game theory
Playing and Pedagogy
Theater and performance
Artistic experiments
Game designs and prototypes, whether digital or tabletop

Posters and demonstrations will be set up as the centerpiece of the conference for the duration of the event as well as, where possible, for at least a week beforehand.

Prizes will be awarded to student projects.

Please submit 500-word proposals or descriptions to by 12/15/2015.

Please include poster title, full name, affiliation, contact information, and brief biography (250 words). Please inform us if you require technological accommodation. Any questions should be directed to

Plenary speakers for In Play include:

Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago
Anastatia Salter, University of Central Florida
Julius Fleming, Jr., University of Maryland
C. Riley Snorton, Cornell University
McKenzie Wark, The New School
For more information, visit our website: or follow us on Twitter @InPlayUMD.