Research

I study games, play, and learning.

In particular, I investigate how games and gaming culture embed learning as part and parcel of “everyday” participation with these media. I was the co-editor, along with Elisabeth Gee, of Learning in Video Game Affinity Spaces (2012, Peter Lang), the first edited volume to tackle theorizing learning across multiple online gaming communities. More recently, with colleagues from Twin Cities Public Television and in the UK, I was awarded a NSF AISL Science Learning+ grant to build better connections between existing studies of learning in online participatory spaces with STEM education. I have published or presented on topics ranging from understanding MMORPG “theorycrafting” through the lens of informal scientific reasoning, an early piece on the design of Minecraft, and (with Matthew Berland of the University of Wisconsin) understanding collaborative computational thinking in board games.

Most recently, I have argued for a shift in educational research related to games. Advocating for “games with learning” rather than games for learning, I have attempted to challenge educational research to more deeply consider the lived experiences of “everyday” users of games and the internet, and to eschew educational application for deeper understandings of learning as engagement within culture. Rather than developing new “uses” of media for learning, my work has moved into investigating how learning already plays a role in furthering our understanding of media. This work has led me to investigations of competition and collaboration in gaming communities, most recently focusing on the online/offline participation of players in competitive card gaming spaces.

My doctoral students and I have collaboratively worked on multiple projects, including: Investigations of badges and participation in discussions on StackOverflow, Reddit, and Steam, the design of analog “story games” to facilitate reflection, the implications of instructional game streaming around the eSport Dota 2, and social network analyses of participation in online Minecraft communities. A common thread in my work is one of understanding collaboration in gaming culture, looking at how critical gaming, game design, and interpretive gaming communities feature people working together to do things (sometimes good, sometimes terrible).

For more detail on recent (and older) publications, I encourage you to check out my my Google Scholar page.