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The last few years has given education a great insight into its own practices. Between online classrooms during the pandemic and the rapid emergence of more and more powerful technologies, we educators have seen a growing need to reevaluate our classrooms, as well as work with new tech to enhance these learning environments.

As such, we believe that the best way forward is to find new and innovative ways to integrate technologies into the classroom, like VR in Law or video games in composition classrooms, by bringing forward-thinking educators together to learn from each other. We believe that by fostering collaboration between faculty and Universities, we can unlock a world of possibilities that will shape the future of learning across the globe. To do so, the University of Kentucky UKFCU Esports Lounge and affiliated faculty would like to cordially invite you to submit abstracts and to attend our upcoming “Leveling up the Classroom” conference, an interdisciplinary and hybrid event emphasizing the pedagogical utility of games and VR in classrooms across the university setting. Some potential abstract topics (this list is non-exhaustive) include:

  • Accessibility
  • Games/VR, diversity, and inclusion
  • Game-based learning theory and application
  • Implementing games/VR in classrooms (humanities or otherwise)
  • Specific games you have used successfully in the classroom

The conference will also feature keynote addresses from Dr. Anastasia Salter, professor and director of the University of Central Florida's Texts and Technology Ph.D.; Dr. Edmond Y. Chang, associate English professor at Ohio University; and Scot Osterweil, Founder, Lead Game Designer, and Creative Director for the Learning Games Network.

Abstracts of no more than 500 words, for papers that can be presented in twenty to twenty-five minutes, should be sent to Please include your name, email, standing, institutional affiliation, and preferred method of presenting (online or in-person) in the body of the email, with the abstract attached as a Microsoft Word document prepared for anonymous review. The deadline for submission is November 19th at midnight EST. Abstracts will be reviewed and presenters notified by December 3rd. Graduate students, faculty, and educationally-focused game developers are encouraged to apply. A registration fee of 20$ to cover breakfast expenses will be required for attendees and presenters once the conference schedule is finalized.

This two-day event will be held in the University of Kentucky’s UKFCU Esports Lounge, located in the Cornerstone building (401 S Limestone, Lexington, 40508) on January 27th and 28th. Breakfast will be provided both days. If you have any remaining questions, email

Our Speakers

Look below for more information on our keynotes and an abstract of their addresses. 

Dr. Anastasia Salter

Dr. Anastasia Salter is a professor and director of the University of Central Florida's Texts and Technology Ph.D. program. They are known for their work in digital literacy and narrative theory applied to video games. Their recent books include Playful Pedagogy in the Pandemic: Pivoting to Game-based Learning, with Emily K. Johnson (Routledge 2022), and Twining: Critical and Creative Approaches to Hypertext Narratives with Stuart Moulthrop (Amherst 2021). 

Dr. Edmond Y. Chang

Dr. Edmond Y. Chang is an associate professor at Ohio University. His research focuses on the intersections of race, sexuality, and game studies. He has published in American Studies, Queer Gaming Studies, and other scholarly magazines. He is also the creator of Telling, a high-fantasy Tabletop RPG, as well as Archaea, a live-action role-playing game. 

Scot Osterweil

Scot Osterweil is the Founder, Creative Director, and Lead Game Designer for the Learning Games Network. He is known for developing academic-focuses games, including Zoombinis, Vanished, Labyrinth, and the 2013 Games4Change game of the year Quandary. He is currently a creative consultant to The Education Arcade and a research scientist in the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program. 

Details for Event


UK's Cornerstone Building and the UKFCU Esports Lounge

401 S Limestone, Lexington, KY, 40508. 



January 27-28th, 2024. 

January 27th: Beginning at 8:00AM 

January 28th: Beginning at 8:30AM


Please click on the link below to register for the event. Registration is 40$, but lunch will be provided both days. Registration for the event is only required once you are accepted to the conference. The link will open once the CFA has been closed.


Schedule of Events

The conference will take place over two days. The timetable will be available soon, and the full schedule of presenters will be available a couple of weeks before the event. Speakers are broken by day, and all sessions will take place in the Esports Theater. A zoom link will also be available for each session each day. 

The event will be open to the public in-person or on Zoom. We ask that those expecting to participate register for the event (this will grant access to Zoom as well as pay for snacks and drinks that we will keep available to everyone). 

A PDF of the schedule is available here.

If you are a presenter and see a mistake with your information, please email 

Day One

Breakfast, Opening Remarks (8-9:30AM)

Section One: Games and Culture

  • Kara Christiansen, UKY, "Grand Theft Auto and Racial Realities" (9:45-10:25)

Intermission (10:25-10:45)

Roundtable One: The Infrastructure of Game Pedagogy (10:45-12:30PM)

  • Speakers: Dr. Courtney Rivard, David Hall, Stephanie Kinzinger, and Doug Stark | UNC - Chapel Hill

Lunch (12:30-2PM)

Roundtable Two: Visual Novels, AI, and Classrooms (2-4:20PM)

  • Speakers: Dr. Paul Shovelin, Loren Smith, Amanda Ellard | Ohio University
  • Commenter: Dr. Edmond Y. Chang

Intermission (4:20-4:45PM)

Keynote Address(es) (4:45-6:30PM)

  • Dr. Anastasia Salter, Univ. of Central Florida "Regenerating the Games Classroom"

Abstract: In classrooms around the world, educators are debating over the role of “AI” and its potential to “disrupt” norms. The MLA and CCCC task force is calling for “critical AI literacy” (2023) as an essential focus for humanities educators. How might the troubled history of games in the classroom inform our response to this moment of so-called transformation? As generative AI tools transform some of the work of “code” and our relationship to it, well these tools regenerate the games classroom, or further perpetuate histories of exclusion? This presentation will engage these challenges through a feminist lens, beginning with a survey of how games offer us an opportunity to critique and understand AI, and moving through a hands-on exploration of the implications of generative AI for coding and creativity in the games classroom.

  • Dr. Edmond Chang, Ohio University, "Towards a Games of Color Pedagogy"

Abstract: In Gaming (2006), Alexander Galloway argues, “Video games render social realities into playable form” and “play is a symbolic action for larger issues in culture."  As gaming communities, industry, even scholars and teachers attempt to address the need for diversity and inclusion in games, how might we create, include, and analyze games of color and develop a “games of color” pedagogy?  Specifically, how might we look at the representation and algorithmic underpinnings of racialized and marginalized identities, narratives, bodies, and cultures in games?  This presentation will offer practical interventions into these fraught languages, grammars, and algorithms in three parts: first, a definition of close playing or critical ways of analyzing, engaging, and teaching games of color; second, example games, prompts, and activities; and third, suggestions for developing a teaching with games philosophy. 

Day Two

Breakfast (8:30-9:30AM)

Section Two: Games and Multimodality (9:30-10:55AM)

  • [Zoom] Deirdre Flood, LaGuardia Community College, "A Stance the Player Takes: Using The Gardens Between to Teach Symbolism to First Year College Writing Students" (9:30-10:10AM).
  • [Zoom] Anthony Vernon, Oklahoma State University, "Multi-Modal Availability for those with Dis/abilities at Writing Centers" (10:15-10:55AM). 

Intermission (10:55-11:15)

Roundtable 3: Incorporating Video Games into a Core Course (11:15-12:45PM)

  • Speakers: Dr. Kathryn Kohls, Jannell McConnell Parsons, Gavin Pulley, Mark Hines, Jaylene Patterson | Univ. of Kentucky

Lunch (12:45-2:15PM)

Section Three: Changing the Rules (2:15-3:40PM)

  • Michael Merriam, Univ. of Central Florida, "Metattendance: Revolutionizing Attendance Policies Through the Use of Asymmetrical Policies and Player Roles in the Digital Classroom" (2:15-2:55PM).
  • Ricky Mouser, Indiana Univ. Bloomington, "Letting Students Write the Rules" (3-3:40)

Intermission (3:40-4PM)

Keynote Address and Closing Remarks (4-5:30PM)

  • Scot Osterweil, Learning Games Network, "..."