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David O'Grady

David O’Grady teaches the digital culture course at CSULB and is a PhD candidate in the Cinema and Media Studies program at UCLA, where he is also a researcher at the UCLA Game Laband co-directorof the lab’s Summer Institute program. He has written about visual media for various publications, and his scholarly work reflects interests in interactive digital media, videogames, contemporary cinema, and documentary film. His dissertation is examining the concept of video game interactivity and the implications of interface controller design and use on the experience of play. David is also a board member of  [in]Transition  online media journal, former assistant editor of  Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studiesand a frequent peer reviewer for the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). 

Research Interests

  • Interactive media

  • Interfacedesign

  • Games and play—all forms, including videogames

  • Contemporary cinema

  • Phenomenology, spatiality,and embodiment

  • Documentary film

  • Streaming media—“Peak” TV and other web-based visual media

  • Digital journalism and communications


UCLA– September 2006 to present   

C. Phil., Cinema and Media Studies, advanced to candidacy June 2010  

Dissertation (in progress): “Being in Control: Video Game Interfaces and the Experience of Play.” Committee: Stephen Mamber(advisor), Chon Noriega, Vivian Sobchack, Eddo Stern 

 M.A., Cinema and Media Studies, June 2008 

San Francisco State University– Winter 2004 

Extension coursework in Film History 

University of Missouri– May 1991 

B.J. with honors, School of Journalism 

Launched independent magazine featuring creative writing and visual arts, and served as features editor for the Columbia Missourian, a city daily newspaper

Recent Publications

Respondent for “Special Effectivities” video essay by Ian Bryce Jones for [in]Transition: Journal of VideographicFilm & Moving Image Studies. Vol 6.3, 2019. 

Book chapter on “NES D-pad Controller: Interface” in How to Play Video Games. Matthew Thomas Payne and Nina B. Huntemann, editors. NYU Press, 2019.

“Touchscreen Games,” “Biomechanics,” and “Gestural Interfaces.” Entries for the Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming (Second Edition). Greenwood/ABC-CLIO, forthcoming 2020.  

“About the UCLA Game Lab.” Interview with game artists Eddo Stern. UCLA Game Lab, March 2018. 

 “The Chicken Between the Teeth: Spatial Soliloquy in the Films of Wes Anderson.” [in]Transition, December 2014. 
“Playfully Subversive: The Many Roles of Adaptation in Making Games at the UCLA Game Lab.” MediascapeNovember 2014. 

Movies in theGameworldRevisitingtheVideo Game CutsceneandItsTemporal Implications.” In The Game Culture Reader, ed. Jason Thompson and Marc Ouellette. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013. 

“Biomechanics” and “Gestural Interfaces.” Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming. Greenwood/ABC-CLIO, 2012. 

“‘This is an Adventure’: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the Spectacle of Nature Documentary.” New Review of Film and Television Studies10, no. 1. March 2012.

Recent Conference Papers

A Tilted ‘Revolution’: Stern’s Orbitor1and the Outer Limits of Pinball Design and Play,” SouthwestPopular/American Culture Association Annual Conference (February 2020). 

Stranger Than Metafiction: The Magic of Metatextual Nostalgia and Nostalgic Metatext in Stranger Things,roundtable,SouthwestPopular/American Culture Association Annual Conference (February 2020). 

 First-Person Soother: Playing Toward Altered States with ASMR Videos,” SouthwestPopular/American Culture Association Annual Conference (February 2019). Also serving as chair for the panel, “Liminal Interactivity: Playing at the Edge of Control.” 

 “Stop Trying to Control Everything: Interactive Restraint and Enactive Enlightenment in Video Games,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, March 2018. 

 “Extinct to the MAX! Excavating Interface Evolution from D-Pad to ThumbstickControl,”Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Annual Conference,February 2016. Also served as chair for a panel on phenomenology and board/tabletop games. 

 Co-coordinator, UCLA Game Lab virtual reality exhibit, at Transforming Hollywood 6 Annual Conference, UCLA, May 2015. 

 Producer and Co-chair of “Teaching Games in Co-Op Mode: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum Workshop.” Day-long games pedagogy workshop attended by about 20 game artist/scholars hosted at UCLA Game Lab, April 10, 2015. 

 “A Rift in the Oculus: Some Consequences of Virtual Reality for Videogame Design and Interface Aesthetics,” Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Annual Conference, February 2015. Also served as chair for a panel on gender and board/tabletop games. 

 “Domesticating Interactivity: Examining Early Industry Efforts to Introduce Videogames to the Home.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, March 2014. Also co-chaired panel, “Videogaming’s Undefined, Defining Feature: Exploring the Origins, Manifestations, and Limits of Interactivity.” 

 “Getting a Feel for It: Designing Video Game Interactivity.” Southwest/Texas PCA/ACA Annual Conference, February 2012. 

 “Interactive Fallout: Cinematic and Ludic Temporalities in Fallout 3.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, March 2011. 

“Interactivity Interruptus: Game Freezes, Cutscenes, and Ludic Time in Fallout 3.” National PCA/ACA Conference, April 2011. 

 Panel chair, “Saving the Game: New Approaches to Preserving Videogame Culture.” At “Reimagining the Archive: Remapping and Remixing Traditional Models in the Digital Era,” a UCLA-hosted symposium, November 2010. Panelists: Henry Lowood, Ken McAllister, Judd Ruggill, Megan Winget. 

 “Beyond the Button: New Video Game Interfaces and the Implications for Embodiment, Performance, and Play.” Southwest/Texas PCA/ACA Annual Conference, February 2010. 

 “Beyond the Button: New Video Game Interfaces and the Implications for Embodiment, Performance, and Play.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, March 2010 (panel rescheduled from 2009).