Distinguished Scholars

Since DiGRA’s founding in 2003, game studies has grown into a large, interdisciplinary community of researchers around the world.

About Our Distinguished Scholars

Since DiGRA’s founding in 2003, game studies has grown into a large, interdisciplinary community of researchers around the world. Our Distinguished Scholars are researchers who have worked to advance the field of game studies in multiple ways, including through the development of rigorous scholarship, the establishment of game studies and game development programs at multiple colleges and universities, and the continued growth of our field. In response, DiGRA recognizes senior scholars who have been at the forefront of such actions. This group of DiGRA Distinguished Scholars will also acknowledge significant contributions made by individuals to DiGRA itself as an organization.

This group – DiGRA Distinguished Scholars – is designed to communicate with and advise the DiGRA Executive Board on issues relevant to game research as needed.  They also provide a resource for the DiGRA board when it needs guidance on key scholarly issues.

Headshot of Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan

Inducted 2019

Mary Flanagan has been writing about games since the 1990s, with a particular focus on women’s games and artist’s games. She is the author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design(MIT, 2009) and co-author of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri. (Unicolpi, 2005). Flanagan is co-editor of the collections Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (MIT, 2003) and Re:Skin (MIT, 2006). She’s presented game research at the Game Developer’s Conference, Games for Change, and in many international keynotes. Her writing has appeared in Salon, USA Today, Huffington Post, SF Chronicle, and Gamasutra. Flanagan is the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.org.

Headshot of Tracy Fullerton

Tracy Fullerton

Inducted 2019

Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an experimental game designer, professor and director emeritus of the USC Games program at the University of Southern California. Her research center, the USC Game Innovation Lab, has produced a number of influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, and The Night Journey, with artist Bill Viola. She is the designer and director of Walden, game, an adaptation of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment at Walden Pond, which was recently awarded “Game of the Year” and “Most Significant Impact” at Game for Change. Tracy is also the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a foundational design textbook in use at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Other recent projects include Collegeology, a suite of college preparation games funded by the Department of Education, the Gilbert Foundation and the Gates Foundation and Reality Ends Here, an alternate reality game for incoming freshmen at the School of Cinematic Arts. Prior to joining USC, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ, Sony Game Show Network’s Inquizition and TBS’s Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Tracy was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive, Creative Director at the interactive film studio Interfilm and a designer at Robert Abel’s early interactive company Synapse. Tracy’s work has received numerous honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television, Indiecade’s “Sublime Experience,” “Impact,” and “Trailblazer” awards, Games for Change “Game Changer” award, and the Game Developers Choice “Ambassador” Award. In September 2016, she was named the People’s Choice for most inspiring LA Woman in Los Angeles Magazine.

Headshot of Torill Mortensen

Torill Mortensen

Inducted 2019

Torill Elvira Mortensen is of the opinion that it is the everyday and the mundane that teaches us the most about the human condition. This is the background for her lifetime of studying popular culture in its immediate and often overlooked forms. She currently (2019) works at the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), department of Digital Design, and is affiliated with the Center of Games Research and the Culture and Technology (CULT) research departments. She teaches games culture, user studies and media use. Torill has spent her academic career in the borderlines between games, play, media studies and strategic communication, which gives her an unique and eclectic approach to the understanding of contemporary media. At Volda University College, Norway, Torill built and led an education in strategic communication and public relations, which she taught at and had responsibility for through the better part of 19 years. Her first work in game studies was an independent research project studying the structure and content of a game for sex education, aiming at teenage boys. She continued the study of games in her doctorate Dr. Artium at the University of Bergen, studying user practices in role-play based multi-user dungeons. During this period she was part of starting up the journal Game Studies, she was a member of the DiGRA board between 2006 and 2010, and she was guild leader for an European Game Scholars guild in World of Warcraft. This is an example of Torill’s eclectic approach to academic collaboration. During this period her research was focused on user practices, and she wrote about weblogs and social online game play, writing in English, her second language, to publish her first anthology, Perceiving Play (2009). In 2010 Torill moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, and started working at IT University of Copenhagen. Here her teaching has focused on digital rhetoric and transmediality, while her research gained an even stronger game focus, as she co-edited the influential The Dark Side of Gameplay anthology (2015). In 2019 Torill is studying transgressive aesthetics, and looks at how game and play methods and theory can be used to understand online, dispersed communication.

Headshot of Souvik Mukherjee

Souvik Mukherjee

Inducted 2019

Souvik Mukherjee is assistant professor and chair of the Department of English at Presidency University, Kolkata. Souvik has been researching videogames as an emerging storytelling medium since 2002, examining their relationship to canonical ideas of narrative and also how these games inform and challenge current conceptions of technicity, identity, culture and postcolonialism. He is the author of two monographs Videogames and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back (Springer UK 2017). Besides maintaining an active interest in issues related to portrayals of empire and postcolonialism in videogames, he is also currently involved in researching ancient Indian boardgames. Besides a range of topics in Game Studies, Souvik researches and teaches Early Modern English Literature and (the) Digital Humanities in Kolkata, India. More details about his research, publications and thoughts on the subject can be found on his blog ‘Ludus ex Machina’ (http://readinggamesandplayingbooks.blogspot.com/). Souvik writes occasionally on games and gaming for The Times of India and helps organise the Global Game Jam in Kolkata. Souvik has served as a board-member of the Digital Games Research Association and has represented the DiGRA’s Diversity Group on the board.

Headshot of Helen Kennedy

Helen Kennedy

Inducted 2018

Helen is currently Head of the School of Media at the University of Brighton overseeing the leadership and management of undergraduate and postgraduate courses currently delivered across four sites throughout the city . Helen’s career has been characterised by her passion for the integration of research, innovative curriculum development and collaborative and creative partnerships. She has an international reputation for her research and advocacy work in Game Studies and for her leadership in the development of the field.Helen began her academic career at the University of Gloucestershire as a Senior Lecturer in Media Communications working in a mixed practice and theory environment. Within the first year she took on the Field Leadership responsibility overseeing staffing, pedagogic strategies and the research development of the practice based staff within the Department. She moved to the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of the West of England (UWE) in 2002 and spent the following seven years inaugurating and developing the Play Research Group and the Digital Cultures Research Centre as key international nodes in the field of Game Studies. During this period she published widely and collaboratively with other members of the school and in the process established a distinctly British Game Studies approach to the examination of computer games, everyday technologies of play and the wider ludification of culture. In 2013 she moved to Brighton to take on a Deputy Head role leading and managing a very large school of Art, Design and Media and became Head of the newly formed School of Media in February 2016. Her current research interests are feminist interventions into games culture, experience design and cultural evaluation. She is Principal Investigator on an international project aimed at the transformation of games (REFIG.ca). Over the past 3 years she has been researching experiential cinema as an aspect of the ludification of contemporary culture with Dr Sarah Atkinson at King’s College London with whom she has written a number of field defining publications. Recently she has been awarded further significant UK Research Council funding to investigate new technologies and new creative practices in immersive experience design.

Headshot of Petri Lankoski

Petri Lankoski

Inducted 2018

Petri Lankoski (D.Arts) is an associate professor at Södertörn University where he teaches game development and game research. He has been working with game research since early 2000. His research has looked at various aspects of game design research, as well as emotions, embodiment, and fictionality in games. Lankoski also develops games as part of the research. He has published three books: Character-Driven Game Design (Aalto University, 2010) and Game Research Methods: An Overview (co-edited with Staffan Björk, ETC Press, 2015) and Game Design Research: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (co-edited with Jussi Holopainen, ETC Press, 2017).

Headshot of Jennifer Jenson

Jennifer Jenson

Inducted 2017

Jennifer Jenson is the Director of the Institute for Research on Digital Learning and a Professor of Pedagogy and Technology in the Faculty of Education at York University, Canada. She, along with Suzanne de Castell founded the Canadian Game Studies Association (www.gamestudies.ca) as well as its journal, Loading (http://journals.sfu.ca/loading). Additionally, she was part of the DiGRA conference organizing team that brought DiGRA to North America for the first time (Vancouver, B.C.) in 2005. She has published on games and learning, gender and gameplay, the design and implementation of games in formal school settings, and on games as pathways to computational skills. She is currently the director of a large, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities research grant that is focused on intervening in the toxic, misogynist spaces of game making and game culture (www.refig.ca).

Headshot of T. L. Taylor

T. L. Taylor

Inducted 2017

T.L. Taylor is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is a qualitative sociologist (Brandeis University, 2000) who has focused on internet and game studies for over two decades. Her research explores the interrelations between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments.Her book Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) chronicles the rise of e-sports and professional computer gaming. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer online games. Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method, her co-authored book on doing ethnographic research in online multi-user worlds, was published by Princeton University Press (2012). She is currently at work on a book about game live-streaming (under contract with Princeton University Press).Dr. Taylor also serves as Director of Research for AnyKey, an organization dedicated to supporting and developing fair and inclusive esports.

Headshot of Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost

Inducted 2016

Ian Bogost is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also holds an appointment in the Scheller College of Business. Bogost is also Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. He is the author or co-author of ten books, including Persuasive Games, Racing the Beam, How To Do Things with Videogames, and Play Anything.

Headshot of Mia Consalvo

Mia Consalvo

Inducted 2016

Mia Consalvo is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the co-author of Players and their Pets, co-editor of Sports Videogames and author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames. She has most recently published the book Atari to Zelda: Japan’s Videogames in Global Context, about Japan’s influence on the videogame industry and game culture.Mia runs the mLab, a space dedicated to developing innovative methods for studying games and game players. She’s a member of the Centre for Technoculture, Art & Games (TAG), she has presented her work at professional as well as academic conferences including regular presentations at the Game Developers Conference. She was President of the Digital Games Research Association (2012-2016), and has held positions at MIT, Ohio University, Chubu University in Japan and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Headshot of Suzanne DeCastell

Suzanne DeCastell

Inducted 2016

Suzanne de Castell is Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, where she has held professorial, administrative and decanal roles. From 2012-2015 she was Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Her research concentrates on gender and learning in virtual environments, and studying what and how players learn from their engagements with digital games. Suzanne holds a doctorate (Philosophy, with Distinction) from Senate House, University of London, and she has published widely on educational theory, literacies both traditional and digital, research technologies, gender studies, and multimodal analysis of communicative interaction. With Jen Jenson, she has worked on a series of game design, development and evaluation studies. She hosted DiGRA’s 2005 Conference in Vancouver, BC, co-edited and published a volume of its selected papers (Changing Views: Worlds in Play), and there inaugurated CGSA (the Canadian Game Studies Association), and the following year founded CGSA’s scholarly journal, Loading… (http://journals.sfu.ca/loading/). Both CGSA and Loading have continued to thrive and grow, helping to nurture and support digital games research in Canada. Most recently, she has been investigating relationships between gender and spatial navigation using a virtual Morris Water Maze, revisiting research on whether and how videogame expertise improves spatial abilities, and specifically whether conventional time-based measures of spatial ability might be systematically gender-biased, and might indeed be producing, rather than discovering and corroborating, the well-established and widely accepted finding that females are less spatially able than males.

Headshot of Jussi Holopainen

Jussi Holopainen

Inducted 2016

Jussi Holopainen is a senior lecturer at University of Lincoln, UK, in the School of Computer Science. He holds a PhD in Digital Game Development from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, and has been researching game design and gameplay experience since 1998, having authored or co-authored scores of academic publications and patents. Jussi serves as a member of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) executive board and is a member of several program committees such as Games and Culture, Game Studies, Advances in Computer Entertainment, and the DiGRA annual conference.Before moving to University of Lincoln early 2017, he worked at Centre for Game Design Research, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.. He has also served senior research management positions at the Nokia Research Center (NRC) and has been involved in coordinating several industry and academia collaboration projects.His latest research is focused on principles of game design, playful design, and using games outside of leisure contexts.

Headshot of Jesper Juul

Jesper Juul

Inducted 2016

Jesper Juul has been working with video game research since the late 1990′s, and has developed several master-level programs in game design and game studies, at the IT University of Copenhagen, at New York University Game Center, and at KADK in Copenhagen. He is an Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design and a Visiting Associate Professor at CMS/W at MIT.He has published three books with MIT Press: Half-Real (2005), A Casual Revolution (2009) and The Art of Failure (2013). He is also a co-editor of the Playful Thinking Series (also on MIT Press), and co-organizer of the first Nordic Game Jam.www.jesperjuul.net

Headshot of Aphra Kerr

Aphra Kerr

Inducted 2016

Dr. Aphra Kerr has a PhD in Communication (2000, DCU) and is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University in Ireland where she is director of the MA (Internet and Society). Her books include Global Games: Production, Circulation and Policy in the Networked Age, Routledge, 2017 and The Business and Culture of Digital Games: gamework/gameplay, Sage, 2006. She was joint associate editor of the 35 games entries in The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.Since 2000 Aphra’s research has focussed on innovation in the digital games industry, game work, gender and diversity in games culture and public policies for the games industry. Recently she has explored the work of community managers in online games. She is a collaborating investigator on the Canadian funded project Refiguring Innovation in Digital Games project (refig.ca) and a national representative on the European Network ‘Dynamics of Virtual Work’. She founded and is a content editor on the community website www.gamedevelopers.ie in Ireland.Aphra was a founding member of the international Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). She is currently chair of the Communication, Technology & Policy section of the International Association for Media and Communications Research (IAMCR) and is an expert advisor to the Pan European Games Information System (PEGI). She has worked previously in the Netherlands, the UK and the US. More information at https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sociology/our-people/aphra-kerr

Headshot of Tanya Krzywinska

Tanya Krzywinska

Inducted 2016

Professor Tanya Krzywinska has been a strong advocate of the academic study of digital games alongside game development education. With a background in the computer industry, as well in literature, film and art, over the course of her career Tanya has developed new methods and concepts designed to further our understanding of the formal uniqueness and potential of games. She is author of a range of papers and books that sought to distinguish the formal and aesthetic differences of games from other media. As well as an interest in indie, art and long-form games, she has written extensively on the Gothic and Horror in games. Tanya was an early member of DiGRA and was a board member from 2006 until 2010. Since 2012, she has been Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Games and Culture (Sage). Tanya has designed and convened a range of games courses in the UK working closely with game developers, such as Lionhead Studios and Supermassive Games, to develop education programmes that provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for employment in the games industry. Graduates are now working at international games developers such as Rovio, Zynga, Creative Assembly and Rockstar. Her Masters’ course was short-listed for the Times Higher Education prize for most innovative taught programme in 2008. Tanya holds the chair in Digital Economy at Falmouth University, Cornwall and is Director of the Games Academy which provides incubation-based and innovation-led game development courses (www.falmouth.ac.uk/games). Given time, Tanya continues to practice as a fine artist.

Headshot of Jonas Linderoth

Jonas Linderoth

Inducted 2016

Jonas Linderoth is a professor in education at the department of Education, Commun ication and Learning at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. His research interests concerns different aspects of perception and learning in relation to both digital games and non-digital games. He has for example worked with questions concerning games in education, role-playing and immersion, as well as issues surrounding high consumption of online games. Recently he is one of the editors for the Routledge volume Dark Side of Gameplay and he has a position in the scientific board of the Swedish media council. Linderoth is perhaps most recognized for his work about game perception from an ecological perspective, where he argues that games have very specific conditions for learning. How and what you learn from a game are deeply embedded in the specific game design of a certain game. Jonas claims that when the development of persistent avatars are based on time investment instead of skill the player can progress in the game under the “illusion of learning”. Linderoth teaches in the courses Educational Game Design, Advanced Educational Game Design, Games and Simulations as Learning Environments and the course Game based learning in educational environments. 2014 ha was awarded the Faculty of Educations prize for excellence in teaching.

Headshot of Esther MacCallum-Stewart

Esther MacCallum-Stewart

Inducted 2016

Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart is an Associate Professor of Games Studies at Staffordshire University. Her work examines players and the ways they understand narratives within games. She has written widely on gender, sex and sexuality in games, representation and narrative play. She is a Hugo nominee and Alfie award winner for her fanzine editing on gaming and players.

Headshot of Frans Mäyrä

Frans Mäyrä

Inducted 2016

Frans Mäyrä, PhD, is the Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, with specialization in digital culture and game studies in the University of Tampere, Finland. Since 2002, he has been heading the University of Tampere Game Research Lab, and he has taught and studied digital culture and games from the early 1990s. He is widely consulted as an expert in socio-cultural issues relating to games, play and playfulness. His research interests range from game cultures, meaning making through playful interaction and online social play, to borderlines, identity, as well as transmedial fantasy and science fiction. He is also the director of the Academy of Finland funded Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (2018-2025).

Headshot of Annika Waern

Annika Waern

Inducted 2016

Annika Waern, professor in Human-Computer Interaction at Uppsala University. Waern is a ‘research by design’ academic with a background in computer science and Human-Computer Interaction, who has dedicated the latest ten years of her life to understanding games and play, and more specifically, pervasive games. These are games that are played in the physical world, often with the aid of mobile and ubiquitous technology.During 2004-2008, she acted as the coordinator of IPerG, Integrated Project on Pervasive Games, an EU-funded project with nine partners spread around Europe, resulting in multiple experimental game designs and a book. Currently, she is working primarily with researching play design in multiple domains, including interactive outdoor playscapes and play in the context of museums. In her spare time she designs larp scenarios, among many other things.

Headshot of José P. Zagal

José P. Zagal

Inducted 2016

Dr. José Zagal is a Professor with the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program. He taught his first University class on game design and development in 2000, has since supervised multiple award-winning student projects. Many of his former students work at leading game studios worldwide. José’s research explores the development of frameworks for describing, analyzing, and understanding games from a critical perspective to help inform the design of better games. He is also interested in supporting games literacy and game education. He wrote Ludoliteracy (2010) and editor of both The Videogame Ethics Reader (2012) and, with Dr. Sebastian Deterding, Role-Playing Game Studies (2018). His most recent book, Game Design Snacks (2019) is an edited collection of nuggets of game design wisdom covering various areas in game design with examples from commercially released videogames. José served on the DiGRA board in 2006, and again from 2010 to 2015. He was general chair of the DiGRA 2014 conference held in Snowbird, Utah, USA. He now serves as the Editor-In-Chief of DiGRA’s flagship journal Transactions of the Digital Games Research Association. (ToDiGRA). José received his PhD in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. See also: http://www.eng.utah.edu/~zagal/

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