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Dr Emma Reay

Lecturer, Media and Communication
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries
Areas of Expertise:
Computer games , Media , Digital Media
Courses taught:

Emma Reay is a lecturer in games studies and game design. Her research bridges games studies, childhood studies, and education research.

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Email: [email protected]


Emma Reay recently completed her PhD in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Her project surveyed over 500 contemporary video games to document how children are represented in digital, interactive texts. She currently teaches an undergraduate course in Game Design and Art at the University of Southampton, and modules in Critical Games Studies, Digital Media Studies and Youth Culture at Anglia Ruskin University.

Additionally, Emma is a key collaborator for the Good Death project, based in the English Faculty at the University of Cambridge, where she researches the intersection of gaming and dying. Emma also works as a Game Design consultant for higher education institutions and indie game developers. Emma is the recipient of the Jaqueline Wilson award, the Pigott award, and the Vice-Chancellor's award, and her research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Research interests
  • Childhood studies
  • Representation studies
  • Toy studies
  • Cuteness studies
  • Literary gaming
  • Children’s media
  • Social justice

Emma currently teaches on the following modules:

  • Teenage Kicks
  • Critical Approaches to Videogames
  • Digital Media Theory
  • BA English Literature, University of Oxford
  • MA in English Literature, University of Oxford
  • MPhil in Children’s Literature, University of Cambridge
  • PhD in Education, University of Cambridge
Selected recent publications

Reay, E. (Forthcoming, 2022) ‘Reparable, Rippable, Restartable: The Immateriality of Digital Toys’, chapter in edited anthology Playful Materialities

Reay, E. (2021) ‘The Silent Child in Little Nightmares and INSIDE’ chapter in edited anthology Silence and the Child

Reay, E. (2021) ‘Cute, Cuddly, and Completely Crushable: Toys as Avatars in Games’, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 13:2

Reay, E. (2021) ‘The Child in Games: Representations of Children in Contemporary Video Games’, Game Studies, 21:1

Reay, E. (2020) ‘Empathy Puzzles: Resolving Intergenerational Conflict in Young Adult Video Games’, International Journal of Young Adult Literature

Reay, E. (2020) ‘Who Thinks Beating a Child is Entertainment?’: Ideological Constructions of the Child in Detroit: Become Human’ DiGRA Conference Proceedings

Reay, E. (2020) ‘Secrets, Stealth, and Survival: The Silent Child in Video Games’, Barnböken

Reay, E. (2020)’Hands Up! Close Reading of the Book and Interview with Breanna J. McDaniel’, Bookbird

Reay, E. (2019) ‘Kideogames: Reimagining the Fringe of Literary Studies as the Forefront’ in Games and Culture

Reay, E. (2018) ‘Appraising the Poetic Power of Children’s Videogames’ in International Research Society for Children’s Literature

Recent presentations and conferences

2021 Invited Speaker for Zones of Connection, ‘Cardboard Stories: Mechanics as Metaphors in Board Games’

2021 ChLA, ‘How are children represented in video games?’

2021 CGSA, ‘What is the silent child in video games trying to say?’

2021 Let’s Talk About Sex in YA, University of Cambridge, ‘Playing with Yourself: Sexuality and Consent in Single Player Narrative Games’

2019 Invited Speaker for CamBrain Network Public Lectures, Gaming the Brain

2019 Invited Speaker for The British Library, ‘Game Rats: Off the Page’

2019 Invited Speaker for Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature, ‘Digital Children’s Media’

2019 Invited Speaker for Cambridge Game Devs, ‘You have to be kidding me…The Child in Games’

2019 Being Human in YA, University of Roehampton, ‘Empathy Puzzles in YA Video Games’

2019 In Pursuit of Sound, University of Cambridge, ‘Wordless Video Games’

2019 IRSCL Croatia, ‘Gaming at the Margins’

2019 IRSCL Sweden, ‘That Was Close! Silence as Survival’

2018 ICFA, ‘Trolley Problems and Digital Children’