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Constance Steinkuehler - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Constance Steinkuehler

Professor of Informatics | UC Irvine


Constance Steinkuehler researches the cognitive and social aspects of multiplayer online videogames and esports.



Constance Steinkuehler Publication




Games Scholar Constance Steinkuhler on Interest-Driven Learning Using Video Games Constance Steinkuehler — Played: The Troubled Relationship Between Women and Games Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, Keynote Speaker for the 2020 Academic Esports Conference Career Spotlight | Dr. Constance Steinkuehler




Constance researches the cognitive and social aspects of multiplayer online videogames and esports. Current projects include studies of teenage boys and gameplay, parenting and videogames, and impacts of the NASEF high school esports league. She formerly served as Senior Policy Analyst under the Obama administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, advising on games and digital media, and founded the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (HEVGA), a national network of game-related programs.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Teenage Boys and Gameplay


Computer Gaming

Multiplayer Online Videogames

Parenting and Videogames

Education (3)

University of Wisconsin-Madison: PhD, Literacy Studies 2005

University of Wisconsin-Madison: MS, Cognitive Science Applied to Education 2005

University of Missouri-Columbia: BA, Mathematics, Literature, Religious Studies 1993

Media Appearances (5)

Gaming Hub, Gaming Backers

Orange County Business Journal  online


Featured in Chapter 6 Technology.

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Academic Esports Conference and Expo: Show preview

University Business  online


Among the conference’s highlights is a signature track, Academic Development, that is entirely focused on competitive gaming’s application in the classroom, as well as impactful instructional strategies, course ideas and best practices that position students for future paths through esports. Many of the sessions were developed by the outstanding research team at the University of California, Irvine, including our opening keynote from Constance Steinkuehler as well as the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), which offers academic and scholastic resources, including state-approved high school esports curriculum and support for schools.

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COVID-19: Social video games to play during the coronavirus quarantine

OrilliaMatters.com  online


Socializing online is what researchers Constance Steinkuehler and Dmitri Williams call an “online third place.” Popularized by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1999, the third place concept describes a setting where individuals can gather and socialize outside of home and work such as coffee shops and bars.

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Steinkuehler to keynote Academic Esports Conference

University Business  online


Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Senior Policy adviser to the White House on video games and learning, has been announced as the opening keynote at this year’s inaugural Academic Esports Conference & Expo, which is scheduled for October 19-21 in Chicago.

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Outdated gaming equipment gets new life

UCI News  online


Informatics professor Constance Steinkuehler received seven PCs for her lab, which examines the cognitive and social aspects of multiplayer online video games and esports. And Josh Tanenbaum, assistant professor of informatics, got four computers for his Transformative Play Lab, where he explores the use of virtual reality to bring the experience of theater practice and performance to underprivileged youth in rural areas.

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Articles (5)

Mindfulness video game improves connectivity of the fronto-parietal attentional network in adolescents: A multi-modal imaging study

Scientific Reports

Elena G. Patsenko, Nagesh Adluru, Rasmus M. Birn, Diane E. Stodola, Tammi R. A. Kral, Reza Farajian, Lisa Flook, Cory A. Burghy, Constance Steinkuehler & Richard J. Davidson

2019 Mindfulness training has been shown to improve attention and change the underlying brain substrates in adults. Most mindfulness training programs involve a myriad of techniques, and it is difficult to attribute changes to any particular aspect of the program. Here, we created a video game, Tenacity, which models a specific mindfulness technique – focused attention on one’s breathing – and assessed its potential to train an attentional network in adolescents.

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Esports Research: Critical, Empirical, and Historical Studies of Competitive Videogame Play

Games and Culture

Constance Steinkuehler

2019 Despite the rise of esports over the last decade, to date there is little effort to coordinate research related to the subject. This special issue attempts to address this gap by presenting a diversity of research exemplars from scholars both within and outside the United States The articles included herein were culled from the top peer-reviewed papers presented at the first annual Esports Research Conference (https://uciesc.org) held October 2018 at the University of California, Irvine, attended by more than 200 academic researchers and esports industry professionals. Together, the collection of articles represents the range of theoretical, methodological, and thematic perspectives in contemporary esports research.

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Failing up: How failure in a game environment promotes learning through discourse

Thinking Skills and Creativity

Craig G. Anderson, Jen Dalsen, Vishesh Kumar, Matthew Berland, Constance Steinkuehler

2018 In many video games, failure can be an indicator that you are, in some way, progressing (Juul, 2013). This is often through challenging content which may take multiple attempts to complete. In education failure can also be seen as an underpinning of learning. In this study, we investigate the influence of failure on thinking skills in an educational video game. We analyze gameplay patterns and surrounding discourse of 88 middle school students playing Virulent, an educational game designed to teach virology to investigate the role of level failures in learning. Participants were separated into groups of 3–4 to roleplay as scientists and engaged in discussions on how to stop a virus while playing Virulent.

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Neural correlates of video game empathy training in adolescents: a randomized trial

npj Science of Learning

Tammi R. A. Kral, Diane E. Stodola, Rasmus M. Birn, Jeanette A. Mumford, Enrique Solis, Lisa Flook, Elena G. Patsenko, Craig G. Anderson, Constance Steinkuehler & Richard J. Davidson

2018 The ability to understand emotional experiences of others, empathy, is a valuable skill for effective social interactions. Various types of training increase empathy in adolescents, but their impact on brain circuits underlying empathy has not been examined. Video games provide a unique medium familiar and engaging to adolescents and can be used to deliver training at scale.

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Game Design & Development Curriculum: History & Future Directions

presented at the Foundations of Digital Games 2017

Lawley, Elizabeth, Roger Altizer, Tracy Fullerton, Andy Phelps, and Constance Steinkuehler.

2017 It has been nearly twenty years since the first undergraduate degree program in computer game development was established in 1998. Since that time, the number and size of programs in game design and development have grown at a rapid pace. While there were early efforts to establish curricular guidelines for the field, these face a number of challenges given the diverse range of academic homes for game-related programs. This panel will address the history of curricular development in the field, both in individual programs and across institutions. It will also explore the potential risks and rewards of developing curricular and/or accreditation guidelines for the field.

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