I’m Sean C. Duncan.
I’m an Assistant Professor in Indiana University‘s Learning Sciences program, and I study games and learning. I believe that games are important contexts for understanding play in everyday life, but also that games, game design, and even gaming communities provide critical sites of situated learning that can help us to rethink instruction, curricula, and educational systems more broadly. Games aren’t interesting just because they’re fun or because kids like them (which, of course, are both true). Games are important expressive media, featuring complex systems of rule sets and narratives, whose designers can have important artistic, political, or critical goals. Oh, and they’re also fun.
In my work, I’m interested in investigating the learning implications of many forms of games — digital, board, card, and role-playing games have all played roles in my current research. Recently, I have published or presented on topics ranging from informal science reasoning in World of Warcraft to co-constructed narratives around The Legend of Zelda series to the use of Minecraft by unschooling proponents to collaborative computational thinking in the board game Pandemic. I’m currently involved with new projects including looking at interactions on Steam, learning in “story games” (Fiasco, Dog Eat Dog, Monsterhearts), and am working with students on projects involving systems thinking in Dota 2, teacher/parent/youth interactions around Minecraft, and using games such as Local No. 12’s The Metagame instructionally.
I suppose a common thread in my work is one of collaboration in games, looking at how gaming, game design, and interpretive gaming communities feature people working together to do interesting things. My lab, currently housed in IU’s Center for Research on Learning & Technology, is called The Playful Culture Lab, and I encourage you to check it out if you’d like to hear more about our projects.
I’m clearly in the process of revamping this personal site, but I’ll have plenty back up here eventually — if you’d like to find out more about me, I encourage you to check out my profile at IU’s School of Education website, or my academia.edu page. I can often be found discussing games, learning, food, politics, and cats on my personal Twitter account (I’m @scd). If you’re more interested in my work than my hobbies and peccadilloes, skip that account and go check out @playcult.
Also, I am actively recruiting students for the Playful Culture Lab — if you’re interested in earning a Ph.D. studying games and learning, I want to talk to you!
My personal email is my first name + my middle initial + my last name at Google’s fine electronic mail service dot com. Or, just feel free to shoot me a tweet sometime!