Joshua Tanenbaum

Joshua Tanenbaum

Joshua Tanenbaum is a game designer, artist, maker, and assistant professor in the Department of Informatics at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California-Irvine where he is a founding member of the Transformative Play Lab (https://transformativeplay.ics.uci.edu/). His PhD research took place at Simon Fraser University in the School of Interactive Arts + Technology, where he also received his MA. He is a recipient of the Pacific Century Graduate Scholarship, the first inaugural Graduate Research Award in Interactive Arts + Technology, and the SFU Dean’s Convocation Medal.

Dr. Tanenbaum’s doctoral research examined identity transformation and empathy in digital narratives and games, drawing on theories and methodologies from the performing arts and human-computer-interaction. His ongoing work on “Transformative Play” draws on techniques from theater practice to create and explore playful experiences that communicate different perspectives on the world, encouraging players to viscerally inhabit new identities and experiences. His first book, edited in collaboration with Magy Seif El-Nasr and Michael Nixon, entitled Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Worlds: Understanding and Designing Expressive Characters was released in early 2014 by Carnegie Mellon Universities ETC Press (http://press.etc.cmu.edu/content/nonverbal-communication-virtual-worlds-understanding-and-designing-expressive-characters). As a PhD candidate he also served as a consulting researcher at the Nokia Chief Technology Office’s Advanced Engineering group where he advised on matters of storytelling and wearable technology for the Internet of Things.

His work incorporates physical objects, wearable technology, and interactive tabletops to explore embodied interactions with digital games and stories. Collaborating with Karen Tanenbaum, he created The Reading Glove: a tangible, wearable, work of electronic literature where a reader explores a collection of evocative physical objects to piece together a historical narrative (http://tf.thegeekmovement.com/wp/?page_id=76). He is currently working on developing new gaming technologies that push the boundaries of personal fabrication, using 3D printers and laser cutters as platforms for mixed reality games. His most recent game, Magia Transformo: The Dance of Transformation, uses costumes and movement to help players adopt the personas of witches and warlocks to uncover the secret magical history of the world.