Mark Chen


Mark Chen

B.A. Studio Art, Reed College
Ph.D. Education, University of Washington



I focus on experiential, project-based learning, treating courses as an opportunity to guide and learn with my students while engaged in theory-pushing through creation and/or participation in our object of study. Topics include Interactive Media, Game Studies, Games and Learning, Tech in Society, Qualitative Research, User Research, and Online Ethnography.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 236 Intro Interactive Media (Interactive Fiction)
BIMD 250 Intro Interaction Design (working with Pacific Science Center and the Woodland Park Zoo)
BIMD 363 Junior Practicum
BIS 313 Gaming Culture


My main research focus is on marginalized player practice and the intricacies and workarounds people engage in to play games the way they want. This started with my dissertation research, which was an ethnography of World of Warcraft players as they learned teamwork and group expertise while also participating with or rebelling against a culture of increasing surveillance and assessment. More recently, I’ve been looking at the material and online ecology of spaces or tools that tabletop game players participate in for the love of their hobby. I also run Esoteric Gaming, an alternative online journal that features short accounts of extreme or marginal player practice. Besides research, I am an indie game designer and promoter of game design for experiential learning.

Selected Publications

  • Chen, M., Leary, R., Simkins, D., & Peterson, J. (in press). Multi-player MUDs and MMORPGs. In J. Zagal & S. Deterding (Eds.), Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations. Routledge.
  • Chen, M. (2017). Novel games can come from novice game makers. On the Horizon, 25(4).
  • Ask, K., & Chen, M. (2017). Alignments & alliances: Associations of value. In J. Banks (Ed.), Avatars, assembled. Peter Lang.
  • Chen, M. (2017). The messiness of actor-network theory in an online gaming ethnography: The inside story of Leet Noobs. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), Researching new literacies: Design, theory, and data in sociocultural investigation. Peter Lang.
  • Chen, M., & Xu, A. (2017). Defense of the Ancients: Genre-pushing and fan-led revolutions. In R. Mejia, J. Banks, & A. Adams (Eds.), 100 greatest video game franchises. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Chen, M. (2017). Fallout 4: Succumbing to the simulacra. Well Played, 6(1).
  • Chen, M. (2017). Peterson, M., & Chen, M. Lands of LoreWell Played, 6(1).
  • Chen, M. (2012). Leet noobs: The life and death of an expert player group in World of Warcraft. Peter Lang.
  • Chen, M. (2009). Visualization of expert chat development in a World of Warcraft player group. E-Learning, 6(1), 54-70.
  • Chen, M. (2008). The player matters: A review of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon SwordE-Learning, 5(4), 508-512.
  • Chen, M. (2008). Moral ambiguity in The Witcher: A game review. E-Learning, 5(3), 358-365.