Joyce Lin

Porter ‘20, art & design: games & playable media

Joyce Lin (Porter ‘20, art & design: games & playable media)

Joyce Lin designs whimsical and inclusive games—queer games Lin lovingly calls “gaymes.”

“Not just in the sense of representing queer ‘folx’ in characters or stories, but also in valuing queerness,” said Lin, who prefers “they” and “their” as pronouns. “I was introduced to queer game theory here, which has been instrumental in inspiring much of my work so far.” 

Lin, who grew up in the East Bay, chose games & playable media for its “good balance between learning art and programming. I liked that there were many different roles you could choose; I like wearing many hats. I also liked that it is a creative field.” 

The UC Santa Cruz experience has “broadened my horizons of what games can be: Designers can create games with certain emotions in mind for the player, and games can help create social change. As for emotions, I seek to create games that evoke whimsy, wonder, and catharsis.” (See Lin's portfolio and website.)

Last October, the New York Times included Lin in “Fear, Anxiety and Hope: What It Means to Be a Minority in Gaming” that highlights their game “Queering Spacetime,” a dating sim card game where players role-play girls who have crushes on each other and create dates. 

Another game, “dinosaurily,” is about found family where a dinosaur finds and hugs other dinosaurs, which then follow the first dinosaur around. It has a pastel vaporwave-esque collage aesthetic and players can place neon stickers, plant flowers, and dance. 

Lin has won a scholarship from the International Game Developers Association to the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco and a Koret Foundation Scholarship for research and development of “Queering Spacetime.” 

“I feel like I’ve found my people,” Lin said. “I want to design in a way that conveys shared values or maybe new values, ones that say if we work together we can create a better, kinder, more inclusive future for all of us.”

Lin said they are grateful for their experience at UCSC “because it allowed me to expand my horizons and meet wonderful people.  

“I feel college truly is that you get what you put in, and there are some fun surprises along the way. I know I tried my best. I learned how to swim, but not float upright, but backstroke is still awesome. I wrote a queer play and saw it performed.” 

Lin’s play Carla Only Likes Things Because They’re Gay was selected for the UCSC Barnstorm Chautauqua.