Samara “Hayley” Steele, MFA (she/they), is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at UC Davis. Their dissertation explores what they call “narrative care,” which might be thought of as a collaborative process of excavating narratives that have been pushed underground through systemic forms of social and environmental harm.
Their work as an educational researcher includes a ModLab project from 2019-2020 in which they led two research teams in developing and implementing novel college curriculum that uses gamemaking exercises to teach topics in STEM and the Humanities. This method, which she calls Gamemaking in Education (GME), uses gamemaking somewhat like the way essay-writing has been used in classrooms in the past. Steele gave a short presentation about this method at GenCon in 2021, and the teams’ first findings paper is slated for publication in early 2022.
Their artistic work has taken a variety of forms including New Media pieces in e-lit, larp, netprov, and transmedia. Their work often explores structural oppression, social-ecological relations, and consent. Her previous work includes Thermophiles in Love (2016), a 5-gender dating game that incorporates biological data about microorganisms in a playful critique of gender bio-essentialism, and Destination Wedding 2070 (2019), a dark comedy about wedding planning in the year 2070 that draws upon C-MIP6 climate data. She has been a larpmaker and larp practitioner since 2002.
In their work as a cooperator, Steele has organized and co-managed various cooperative housing projects, worker co-ops, and commons since 2011. In 2018, she worked for NoBAWC in the development of its latest regional worker co-op map. They have been involved with various cooperative development and commoning projects in the Pacific Northwest since 2019, including the NWCDC, Cascade Cooperatives, and the Karate Church Commons in Bellingham, WA.
Born in the Pacific Northwest, Steele has been part of the urban farming movement since 1996 and part of the alter-globalization movement since 1999, when she attended the WTO “counter-convention” in the streets of Seattle. In early 2011, they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became involved with activist efforts that pertain to food sovereignty, environmental justice, housing justice, the fight for Black lives, the struggle for gender equality, and efforts to raise the voices of Indigenous storytellers, immigrants, and exiles from neoliberal regimes in the Global South. She has been part of the Slingshot Collective since 2011.
Steele has presented their scholarship critically exploring gender, race, political economy, games, code, and data at numerous academic gatherings and events including invited presentations at Lewis & Clark College, UC Berkeley, and the European University at St. Petersburg. Her work on what she calls “anti-code” has been cited in Mark Marino’s book, Critical Code Studies (The MIT Press, 2020). She was a 2018-2020 HASTAC Scholars Fellow, a 2020 Mellon Public Scholar, and she been an Advanced Research Affiliate of the HaCCS (Humanities and Critical Code Studies) Working Group since 2016. Presently, they are working with members of their dissertation committee towards the launch of a new interdisciplinary field called Consent Studies.
Steele has served in the writing/editing room or as a correspondent for Oologan Press, Tin House, KATU Channel 2 News, McSweeney’s, Slingshot, Black Powder Press, Adbusters, [Trigger]: A Journal of Catarealism and Speculative Sexualities, and Cerise Magazine: A Journal for Women Gamers. She is presently managing editor for Subversas Magazine.
Steele holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Portland State University.