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Theresa Tanenbaum

Assistant Professor
UC Irvine

Dr. Theresa Jean Tanenbaum (“Tess”) is a game designer, artist, activist, and professor in the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine where she is a founding member of the Transformative Play Lab ( Dr. Tanenbaum’s work is playful, provocative, and interdisciplinary, frequently straddling the line between art, design, and research. She is an expert in the design and study of digital storytelling systems that produce experiences of role-taking and identity shift by drawing on techniques from theater and the performing arts. Her work seeks to create possibilities for social and individual change by highlighting how the identities that we inhabit in the world are contingent and negotiated. These experiences of transformative theatrical play create possibility models that are emancipatory, allowing oppressed and marginalized people to inhabit new identities that create possibilities where there were none before and reclaim power and agency denied to them. She has been instrumental in helping create new, more inclusive, policies within the academic publishing world that make it possible for people to correct their names on previously published scholarship. She has worked with COPE, the ACM, SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, and many other publishers to develop identity practices in publishing that safeguard the privacy of transgender authors seeking to update their scholarly records to reflect their correct names. She is the founder of the Name Change Policy Working Group ( and serves as the VP for Publications for ACM SIGCHI, and on the board of the Association for Research Into Digital Interactive Narratives (ARDIN) as the director of EDI initiatives.

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