I am a game studies and digital cultures researcher at Waipapa Taumata Rau | the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. My research typically seeks to understand how people come to generate and tell different kinds of stories while playing videogames or engaging with new media, and my teaching expertise encompasses videogames, media and communications, digital pedagogies, and learning design. I also provide curriculum development and digital learning leadership in my current role. I occasionally create zines as part of Team 3000 Press.


May, L. (2021). Digital Zombies, Undead Stories: Narrative Emergence and Videogames. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

Through analysis of three case study videogames –  Left 4 Dead 2DayZ and  Minecraft – and their online player communities,  Digital Zombies, Undead Stories develops a framework for understanding how collective gameplay generates experiences of narrative, as well as the narrative dimensions of players’ creative activity on social media platforms. Narrative emergence is addressed as a powerful form of player experience in multiplayer games, one which makes individual games’ boundaries and meanings fluid and negotiable by players. The phenomenon is also shown to be recursive in nature, shaping individual and collective understandings of videogame texts over time.

Digital Zombies, Undead Stories focuses on games featuring zombies as central antagonists. The recurrent figure of the videogame zombie, which mediates between chaos and rule-driven predictability, serves as both metaphor and mascot for narrative emergence. This book argues that in the zombie genre, emergent experiences are at the heart of narrative experiences for players, and more broadly demonstrates the potential for the phenomenon to be understood as a fundamental part of everyday play experiences across genres.

Articles and Book Chapters

May, L. (2022). On the road: Emergent spatiality in #vanlife. Platform: Journal of Media and Communication, 9(1), 56-72.

May, L., & Denton, J. (2022). Emergency designs: Lessons for the rapid implementation of online teaching. In D. Forbes & R. Walker (Eds.), Developing Online Teaching in Higher Education: Global Perspectives on Continuing Professional Learning and Development (pp. 85-95). Springer.

May, L. (2022). Virtual heterotopias and the contested histories of Kowloon Walled City. Games and Culture, ‘Games with History and Heritage’ special issue, 17(6), 885-900.

May, L. (2021). Confronting ecological monstrosity: Contemporary video game monsters and the climate crisis. M/C Journal, 24(5).

Mei, B., May, L., Heap, R., Ellis, D., Tickner, S., Thornley, J., Denton., J, & Durham, R. (2021). Rapid development studio: An intensive, iterative approach to designing online learningSAGE Open, 11(3), 1-9.

May, L. (2020). 100-yen apocalypse: Sensorial experiences of zombie play in Japanese game centersReplaying Japan, 2, 83-93.

McKissack, F., & May, L. (2020). Running with the dead: Speedruns and generative rupture in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2Games and Culture, 15(5), 544-564.

May, L. (2019). Getting hands-on with virtual spaces: An approach to students’ unequal prior experiences of digital media. Films for the Feminist Classroom, special feature ‘Playing and Pedagogy’, 9(1).

Mei, B., & May, L. (2018). Reflective renovation: Insights from a collaborative and active learning space project evaluation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(6), 17-26.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2017). Queering stories and selves: Gamer Poop and subversive narrative emergenceIntensities: The Journal of Cult Media, 9, 1-17 .

May, L. (2017). Book review: Zombies: A Cultural History, by Roger Luckhurst. Cultural Sociology11(1), 139-141.

Conference proceedings

May, L. (2020). The Shōwa era’s living dead: the ludic reemergence of Japanese zombies. DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere. Digital Games Research Association.

May, L. (2020). Disciplined play: Finding Foucauldian architecture in virtual worlds. DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere. Digital Games Research Association.

Invited talks

May, L. (2023). Respondent: Videogame Temporalities panel discussion. Media and Screen Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland.

May, L. (2020, December 10). Learning Through Play: Games and Gamification. School of Foreign Languages, Henan University. Kaifeng, China.


Invited participant: EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship Masterclass , Tampere University, Tampere, Finland. 2019. 17–19 June 2019.

Selected presentations

May, L., & Hall, B. (2023). Yelling at clouds: Battlefield 2042 players’ encounters with the climate crisis. DiGRA Australia 2023, Sydney, Australia.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2022). Speedruns as assemblage: Witnessing reterritorialization through developer reaction videos. Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) Annual Conference. Kraków, Poland.

May, L. (2022). Telling scary stories: players, paratexts and the climate crisis. DiGRA Australia 2022, online.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2020). The disciplinary architecture of videogame houses. DiGRA Australia 2020, Brisbane, Australia.

May, L., & Mei, B. (2019).  Unstable reflections: The construction of Chinese histories through heterotopic game spaces. Chinese Digital Game Research Conference 2019, Beijing, China.

May, L. (2019). 100-yen apocalypse: Sensorial experiences of zombie play in Japanese video game arcades. Replaying Japan 2019: The 7th International Japan Game Studies Conference, Kyoto, Japan.

May, L. (2019). Reconstruction and remembrance in the ruins of Minecraft’s post-apocalypse. DiGRA 2019 pre-conference workshop Ruins in Digital Games, Kyoto, Japan.

May, L., Mei, B., & Heap, R. (2019). Rapid prototyping as an approach to designing online learning.. HERDSA Conference 2019: Next Generation, Higher Education: Challenges, Changes and Opportunities, Auckland, New Zealand.

Ellis, D., Heap, R., May, L., & Coombes, M. (2018). Online course design: The Rapid Development Studio [Poster presentation]. Tertiary Education Research in New Zealand (TERNZ), Wellington, New Zealand.

May, L. (2018). On the road: spatiality and emergent storytelling in #vanlife. #MINA2018: Towards a Theory & Practice of Smart Storytelling, Melbourne, Australia.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2017). Running with the dead: Speedruns and generative rupture in Left for Dead 1 and 2. DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) 2017, Melbourne, Australia.

May, L. (2016).  Building the apocalypseScreen Studies Association of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand conference, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2015).  Narrative emergence as creative and subversive intervention: Gamer Poop’s queer stories and selvesCreative Gaming Symposium, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2015). Queering video game stories and selves. Media, Film and Television (Research Seminar Series), Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland.

May, L., & McKissack, F. (2015). Subversive narrative emergence in Gamer Poop: Queering video game stories and selvesDiGRA 2015: Diversity of play: games – cultures – identities, Lüneburg, Germany.

May, L. (2015). History at the front lines of the zombie apocalypse: DayZ players and their strategies of narrative emergenceGame Research Lab Spring Seminar: Adult Play, University of Tampere. Tampere, Finland.

May, L. (2014). Citizen journalism at the frontlines of the zombie apocalypse: DayZ players and their strategies of conflict remediationMedia, War and Memory – Journalism, Media and Democracy Research Centre 2014 Conference, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.

Leichtweis, S., Heap, R., Garbett, D., Ovens, A., Patterson, W., & May, L. (2013). Making learning visible: Using mobile technologies to support tertiary learning and teaching by providing feedback on learning. Asia Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Chief Information Officers and the Education and Research Technology Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Bowes, M. I., Patterson, W., & May, L. (2012). Assessment, physical education and mobile learningASCILITE 2012: Future Challenges, Sustainable Futures, Wellington, New Zealand.


May, L. (2018). Exquisite corpses: Narrative emergence in multiplayer zombie video games (Doctoral Thesis). University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Selected for University of Auckland Dean’s List. The Dean’s List recognises theses that are of exceptional quality in every respect including scholarship, research content, quality of expression and accuracy of presentation.


Liam Bowen, Larry May & Sergio Cornaga. (February 2023). The Maize Man. qTeam 3000 Press.

Max Coombes, Larry May & Gabriella Stead. (August 2021). The Porcelain Chronicle - Issues I & II. Porcelain Press/Team 3000 Press.

Liam Bowen, Max Coombes & Larry May. (July 2018). The Wizard's Swamp. Team 3000 Press.