Blog Post

A brief introduction.

Hello everyone! My name is Michael Lee and I am excited to be a HASTAC fellow with you all this year.

I am starting my sixth year in the PhD program at the Information School at the University of Washington. My background is in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), computing education, and cognitive science. I received my master's from UC Berkeley, and bachelor's from UC San Diego.

I am interested in exploring how to keep people engaged and show measurable learning outcomes playing discretional educational games. For this purpose, I have created Gidget, an online puzzle game designed to teach programming concepts through debugging. The game was released to the public in mid-September of 2014 and to date, thousands of people have played the game online and during in-person summer camps for teens at Oregon State University and the University of Washington. You can check it out at:



Hi Michael, I checked out Gidget and it's great! I am excited about using gaming to teach programming, and the puzzle gameplay of this I think really works for casual gamers. Is Gidget part of your dissertation project? Would love to hear more about the development and how the summer camps received it if you can share with the HASTAC community.


Hi Lisa, thanks a lot for the comment!

Yes, Gidget is a part of my dissertation work exploring how to teach programming to novices in a engaging way with measurable learning outcomes. I've published a few papers on different aspects about Gidget, mostly about engagement (you can find them on my website linked in my profile).

I've been running summer camps for the past two years using Gidget, and both times, have received very positive feedback from our teenage camp participants and their parents! (You can read more about their experience and all the cool levels they created in my 2013 paper).


Hi Michael and Lisa and other gamers--anyone intereseted in starting a gaming or game design group within Scholars? I work on serious games at UW-Madison and would love to be in touch with others doing similar work!


Hi Alainya -- a games group sounds great, let me know if you set it up!


That sounds like an awesome idea; I think there's a pretty good cohort of gamers in this cohort.


Hi Alainya! A gaming group is a great idea!


I would also be interested in a games group!


I would be interested in a Games Group as well! :)


I would love to participate in something like this as well! I'm slowly easing into learning more about practical implementation (read: the game dev industry) to supplement my academic interest, so it would be great to have a group of people to collaborate and keep up with.


OK! I am going to try and set up a group for the gamers and designers in our cohort. I will be in touch about details  shortly! Glad to have some fellow designers along for the ride!




Hi All!

It's great to see so many like-minded game scholars here.  I am writing to see if any of you would be interested in participating in a "Birds of a Feather" group session at HASTAC 2015.  I will submit a proposal on our behalf.  If you're wondering, this type of session is described as follows:

Birds of a Feather Sessions will be conversations among experts and those interested in similar topics or technologies.  Sessions will aim to assemble teams and plans for multi-institutional collaborations that will extend well beyond the duration of the conference.  Proposals should indicate topics, technologies, and possible outcomes.

I take it we all fit into this category as HASTAC scholars interested in games and gaming, no? :)

Perhaps the conference may be a good place to provide an in-person meet up, should we choose to work together over the course of the next several months online to develop a project together?  HASTAC encourages everyone to work together in groups (categorized by scholarly interests) throughout the year on a project -- this proposal could set us on course for that work -- developing to speak (sorry, couldn't help myself ;)

Please let me know if you're interested (and for any lurkers of this thread, please feel free to add yourself to the conversation/group - the more the merrier) by replying here or via DM!



Erica, a birds of a feather session is also an excellent idea that I'm sure many people will be interested in!


Thanks, Michael!

If anyone is interested in working together this year and/or being a part of the Birds of a Feather group for HASTAC 2015, please let me know as soon as possible!  The proposal is due this upcoming Friday, October 31!  Again, via this thread or through a DM is great -- I already have one other scholar interested in joining -- we'd love to have others along for the ride!  

For what it's worth, I think gaming research from multiple viewpoints (and methodologies for that matter) has the potential to develop such an interesting project (or multitude of projects).  We have a tendency as scholars to collaborate with others working within similar niches of the discipline, meaning: scholars who study gaming and education, or gamification, or game design, or identity, etc.  I think the more multifaceted and dynamic the perspectives, the stronger the possibilities to create a truly unique project that considers gaming across the spectrum.  I could be wrong, but the only way to find out is to get started!  I look forward to working with you all! 




It just occured to me that the gamer discussion took over your introduction thread.  My apologies!!!  I hope you find it flattering and not intrusive :)



Hi Erica,

Not instrusive all! I'm excited to see so many other scholars interested in gaming for learning!