The work of Susana Ruiz, Ph.D. Play Design, Digital Storytelling, Art Practice, Media Activism & Pedagogy. I am an Assistant Professor of film and digital media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where I hold research, teaching, and service positions in several programs, including the Film and Digital Media Department, the Digital Arts and New Media Program, the Games and Playable Media Program, and the Social Documentation Program. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in art and media production, history, and theory. I also teach and co-teach workshops from time to time for other non-academic audiences. I advise undergraduate, M.F.A. and Ph.D. students. I hold an M.F.A. from the Interactive Media and Games Division (IMGD) at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). I also hold a Ph.D. from USC’s Media Arts + Practice Program (iMAP), which has the mission to empower scholar-practitioners in the interpretation and design of experiences to communicate effectively and ethically in a world of ubiquitous media.

A selected collection of work ranging in medium and scope, including digital and mobile games; physical board, card, and outdoor games; interactive installations and animations; writings; videos; prototypes & sketches.

Take Action Games

Traversing the intersections of art, game design, activism, and documentary. Take Action Games is a multiple-award winning studio invested in the evolution of design that advances ethical storytelling and play mechanics.

The Betrayal Volumes

Combining volumetric filmmaking, augmented reality, and game design, this project is an immersive investigation of ways women in the art world and creative industries have historically been erased, sabotaged, and punished.

The Betrayal Volumes (in development)

Civic Tripod

This report outlines the emerging field of mobile and pervasive games along three dimensions of (1) civic learning, (2) performance art, and (3) social change. Focusing on real projects from the field, it aims to reveal key opportunities and constraints on the mobile frontier for civic games.

Anti-Oppressive Game Design

Anti-oppression is a framework used in social work and community organizing that broadly challenges power imbalances between different groups of people in society. We position these principles in the realm of game creation and argue for their use – particularly in the development of social issue games that in one way or another seek to spotlight and challenge social power imbalances.


A card game as pedagogical tool and platform to help undergraduate students quickly brainstorm and conceptualize ideas for scholarly crossmedia projects, consider the relationship between form and content, and incorporate technology in meaningful, strategic and thoughtful ways. Design by Steve Anderson, Evan Hughes, Elizabeth Ramsey, and Susana Ruiz.

Transdisciplinary Practice: Notes Towards a Manifesto

A collection of video discussions with stakeholders and experts in the areas of game design, community organizing, Theatre of the Oppressed, and documentary filmmaking.

Clean Up Wall Street: A Game About Selling Trash

Clean Up Wall Street: A Game About Selling Trash

Speculative design for a location-based game inspired by Charles H. Ferguson's 2010 Academy Award winning documentary Inside Job utilizing custom game cards and smart phones. Playfully assuming the roles of commodity traders and credit rating agents in the actual spaces of Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, players compete to trade and sell before time runs out and the inflated system bursts. Design by Kristy Kang, Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Veronica Paredes, Susana Ruiz, and Jeff Watson.

Experiments in Interactive Panoramic Cinema

This work is specifically designed to explore the properties and limitations of immersive experiences in relation to the codes of cinematic narrative by sidestepping the storytelling preoccupations of conventional cinema and instead focusing on notions of space, movement, and embodied spectatorship.

Urban Light from Day to Night

A collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this mobile app is a virtual flipbook in celebration of Chris Burden's iconic L.A. art experience, Urban Light. Design by Chris Guitarte, Susana Ruiz, Rokhsan Shafiei, and Rachel Wagoner as part of the first-ever iPhone application class at the University of Southern California.

Barbie and The Middletons Break Loose

A multiplayer storytelling game system about the Barbie mythology and the tale of an American family attending the New York’s World Fair in 1939. The game requires a group to play with a willingness to tell, transgress and retell stories. Design by Sean Bouchard, Lauren Fenton, Andreas Kratky, Veronica Paredes, Susana Ruiz, and Hidefumi Yasuda.


While traveling alone together on the choked LA freeways, drivers are familiar strangers participating in a regular, large-scale social event known as rush hour, rarely engaging in memorable exchanges. The ProjectCAR platform converted a 1983 Volvo station wagon into a “Commuter Art Rig," creating a test bed for designers to explore interactions between people, vehicles and traffic.