My name is Luis and I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Learning, Literacies, and Technologies at Arizona State University where I am also a Teaching and Research Assistant.
My interests focus on the role games (digital and tabletop) can play in learning and literacies. That means that whenever I’m not playing–ahem–researching games, I’m reading or writing about them.
My dissertation research qualitatively explores the digital-age literacy practices, demands, and perspectives involved in electronic sports (esports) in high schools. My broader research explores how the playing, making, and modding of digital and tabletop games helps develop young peoples’ abilities to address environmental issues, benefit under-represented and under-served students, and assists players to see the world, society, and themselves as malleable, re-designable entities.
As a research assistant, I am involved with some externally funded research projects. One of these is with AZ Delta (Designing Equitable Learning, Teaching, and Assessments) with my advisor Brian Nelson, Ed.D. At the moment, I am assisting primarily with the analysis of collected data and the writing of peer-reviewed articles on the project called “Ask Dr. Discovery” (NSF#1438825). Additionally, I am helping to lead efforts to develop and fund an Augmented Reality (AR) simulation that will allow middle school students to gain an embodied understanding of the dynamic social, technological, economic, and political interactions that can be both the causes and effects of climate change. I’m also a research assistant for a project called “Play in the Making” (NSF#1623558) as part of the Play2Connect Lab with Elisabeth Gee, Ed.D. At the moment, I am assisting primarily with the analysis of collected data and writing of peer-reviewed articles. Additionally, I’m helping develop a strand of inquiry that looks into how broken (or incomplete) tabletop games might help young people develop their capacities for designerly ways of thinking.
My most recent teaching experiences include: (1) helping teach a doctoral-level course on Interview Techniques and Dialogue and (2) being the instructor of record for Educational Psychology for Future Teachers.
My research interests are inspired by my personal story with videogames and learning. I’m from Puerto Rico and I am a native Spanish speaker. In Puerto Rico, English is mostly taught as a school subject for 50 minutes a day in public schools, although some private schools have English immersion programs where all subjects are taught in English. I, however, received my education from public schools where too often English was taught as a stand-alone subject through the memorization of decontextualized grammatical rules. This meant that the most consistently contextualized exposure to English that I, and many other public school students, received came from entertainment media such as television, music, and videogames. Of those three, my preferred way of “wasting time” had always been videogames (and still is). As a result, I always thought that my proficiency in English was due to the videogames I played, but I didn’t really give it much thought. That changed when, at some point of my bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics, I had to write a research paper for a class (it’s worth noting here that this degree in English Linguistics represents the first time in my life I used English on a daily basis to communicate face to face). To complete that class paper, I thought I would explore if videogames could actually help people learn anything–and oh, was I surprised.
It was 2011 when I came across the growing scholarly research on games and I could hardly believe this was a legitimate research area. I remember thinking “I can play videogames and it can count as research? Sweet!”. So on I went, taking my first steps down a research interest path that centered on videogames and their affordances for learning and literacies that continues to this day. In fact, I gave a TEDx talk about this:
Since then, my research interests have changed a bit. They’ve moved away (temporarily) from a focus on language learning into learning more broadly. Still, an important part of my interest continues to center on videogames.
Most recently, my experiences with videogaming as a player and as a researcher have led me to develop a focused interest in the organized and competitive play of video games, better known as electronic sports (or esports). My guiding question here is, given the rise in popularity of esports programs at universities and high schools across the U.S., how might esports contribute to the educational goals and general learning of the students that participate in them? In my pursuit to engage with this question as much as possible, I am working on multiple projects involving esports. One of these projects will take a close look at my university campus’ esports cultures as perceived by the students that participate in them. Another project is my dissertation that focuses on high school esports around my local area with the help of some amazing students, teachers, and administrators. In fact, I was interviewed by Fox News about esports in schools in 2018 and I’ve presented on esports at scholarly conferences before (see picture below)
What else is there to know about me?
I have a Masters degree in English Education (2014) and a Bachelors degree in English Linguistics (2012). I earned both of these degrees at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. I’ve taught Public Speaking as well as English composition targeted for pre-basic, basic, and intermediate proficiency levels at the University of Puerto Rico. In addition to these teaching experiences, I also co-coordinated the Intermediate English composition track for the English department at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.
I also like talking about design in all its richness over at talkingaboutdesign.com
I somehow managed to marry the awesome Priscila Rodríguez García, with whom I’m currently playing through the games of doctoral studies, life, and the Dark Souls series.
You can find me gaming online on any of the major consoles as well as the PC.