Yifat Shaik is an Assistant Professor in Computational Arts at York University and an indie game developer whose focus is on creating personal autobiographical work and the use of systems, data, and game mechanics in social interaction and political activism. Her work explores the way “play” can become a powerful way to talk about and examine social structures, especially using mechanics as the primary tools of subverting the meaning of well-established video game systems. As an independent game developer, Yifat made Real Army Simulator, an anti-militarization game about the mundanity of military service, and The Engine is the Message, a series of small experimental games which are done in nontraditional game engines. She is currently working on “I want to be invisible” an ARG that uses Alexa and digital humans to examine issues pertaining to gender representation in digital media. Her work has been exhibited and presented internationally in events like MIGS (in which she was keynote speaker in 2018), Indiecade, Full Indie, Qgcon, and more and has received press attention from publications like Boing Boing, The Financial Post, and The Torontoist. Since graduating from OCAD University in 2014, Yifat has been working as an instructor and course director in such institutions as OCAD University, Sheridan College, The Toronto Public Library and since 2016 she has been a course director (and later Assistant Professor) at York University’s Computational Arts program. Yifat is a member of the Different Games Collective and head organizer of Different Games Toronto conference in 2017.
Real Army Simulator
Real Army Simulator is the often humorous, slightly satirical and sometimes real account of what it is really like to be a soldier in the army. Real Army Simulator tries to show a more realistic view of the army and what it’s like to be part of it. The game presents life in the army as being part of a large bureaucratic and mundane machine rather than the glorified heroic experience often depicted in-game
The Worksheet Saga
The Worksheet Saga is a generative puzzle game that takes place in an Excel spreadsheet, building on John Conway’s Game of Life. These iconic and simple algorithms encourage emergent and engaging play, using colors, simple rules, and familiar Excel elements to create a unique interactive experience.
Conversations with Emma
Conversations with Emma is a text adventure game in which I have a conversation with Emma Goldman about gentrification, buying things on Amazon and my obsession with getting subscription boxes.
What…if… is a choose-your-own-adventure game about an existential crisis made in Instagram Stories
Hummus Clicker is an idle clicker game that critiques how ethnic food is culturally appropriate in the west.
What can game designers learn from competitive reality shows, GDC (Game Developer Conference) 2021
Can reality shows teach us to construct better procedural narratives? International Conference on Games and Narrative, 2021
Humor as subversion of military rhetoric in video games, CGSA (Canadian Game Studies Association), 2021
Teaching Game Design In Remote Communities, IMAA/NIMAC 2018
Subversive Humor & The Absurdity Of Real Life, Queerness & Games Conference 2018
Subversive Humor & The Absurdity Of Real Life, ReFig 2016
What Will Make Alexa Cry? Dirty Rectangles Toronto 2020
Making Experimental Broken Games, Migs Brain Dump: Easy To Learn, Hard To Master (closing keynote) MEGAMIGS 2018
Making Experimental Broken Games, EGLX 2018
Making Experimental Broken Games, Full Indie 2018
Player Agency, Glitch, & Mods EGLX 2018
Subversive Humor & The Absurdity Of Real Life, EGLX 2018
Player Agency, Glitch, & Mods, East Coast Game Conference (ECGC) 2017
Subversive Humor & The Absurdity Of Real Life, TCAF Comics X Games 2016
Player Agency, Glitch, & Mods, Boston FIG 2016
Subversive Humor & The Absurdity Of Real Life, IndieCade East 2016
Player Agency, Glitch, & Mods, MEGAMIGS 2016
Shaik, Y. S. (2020). Emergent Narratives in Survivor. First Person Scholar
Shaik, Y. S. (2016). Your many deaths are meaningful . Amaze Magazine, (3)
Shaik, Y. S. (2015). Subversive Humor & Games. First Person Scholar, Gamasutra