Hi, my name is Sean Duncan, and I’m a teacher and scholar of games.
I regularly teach students introductory courses on games and play, as well as critical game design. With a focus on situating games in an interdisciplinary network of research and design, I help students understand the fun, important, and often messy ways that games serve as loci of cultural and subcultural practices, platforms for social interaction, and as interfaces that shape community practices.
I am currently a lecturer in the University of Virginia’s Department of Media Studies. I have previously worked as a user experience intern/usability engineer at Microsoft, was formerly the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Interactive Media in Miami University’s C. Michael Armstrong Interactive Media Studies program, and was most recently an assistant professor in the Learning Sciences at Indiana University and Research Scientist in Indiana University’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology.
My research straddles game studies, internet studies, and fan studies. I study cultures of play and learning in digital and analog spaces. While my work has been historically in educational research, my goals are quite different from traditional research in that field. Regardless of how we might use them in application-based settings, games are of course not primarily instructive — they are expressive media, balancing complex systems of rule sets and narratives, utilized for entertainment, artistic, political, and critical goals. In my work, I view learning as part of engagement with participatory culture, studying play with games and within extant gaming communities as complex sites of criticality, fandom, and design.
For more detail on my research, please visit the Research page; for more on some of my teaching, please visit my Courses page. I encourage you to download my vita (linked above) or get in touch via email at my first name, the letter c, then my last name at Google’s email service. If you’re the type of person who gets excited by academic tweeting, I occasionally tweet @playcult.