Steinkuehler to keynote Academic Esports Conference

The California-Irvine professor and former White House Senior Policy adviser will discuss ‘The Intellectual Life of Esports’ in the inaugural event’s opening session.
By: | March 26, 2020

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.

One of the most respected authorities on the connection of esports and education, Steinkuehler has worked tirelessly in areas such as game-based learning, early literacy and cognitive wellbeing throughout her career. She plans to share her latest research findings in a session titled “The Intellectual Life of Esports” that will focus on the esports ecosystem and the vehicle it provides to enrich students in so many aspects of their lives.

“I am delighted to be keynoting the Academic Esports Conference this year,” said Steinkuehler.  “In the past five years, esports has quickly emerged as one of the fastest-growing spectator and participatory sports for young people on a global scale. With this rise in popularity, so too have the number of university and high school programs. Although youth programs overwhelmingly tout the potential benefits, to date relatively little is known about their actual empirical outcomes. My keynote will describe a novel esports program for youth with academic, career and social-emotional learning built into its design.”

A principal investigator for the non-profit North America Scholastic Esports Federation, Steinkuehler will outline NASEF’s approach to esports as connected learning and its mission to provide opportunities for all students to use esports as a platform to acquire critical communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. She plans to address what has worked and what hasn’t, the important connection between academics and esports, future research, and whether educators are meeting student needs. Most importantly, she says is the mission for educators to turn “screen time into activity time” and build on “giving kids what they love.”

“We are honored to have Constance presenting at our inaugural show and sharing her research from NASEF and Cal-Irvine,” said Chris Burt, Conference Chair for the event and Esports Editor at LRP Media Group. “She has been a powerful force for the video gaming, esports and education community, and has been a continual advocate for child development, inclusion and diversity. Her keynote will provide participants with a unique window into the natural connection between academics and esports, which is the very mission of the conference.”

Prior to her work at UC-Irvine, Steinkuehler worked in a variety of public-sector roles related to the “constructive potential of computer games.” She is the founder of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance and also advised federal agencies and private foundations on ways to develop games that had positive social impact in her work with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. While there, she helped leverage games toward national priority areas, including childhood obesity, early literacy and STEM education. She also was a key figure in meetings conducted on the controversial debate over violent video games.

In addition to her work at NASEF, she is currently co-chair of the Connected Learning Summit and chair for the annual Esports Conference at UC-Irvine, as well as the UCI Esports Program Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion. In 2009, she served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Games, was founder and former President of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (2014 to 2017), and was a founding fellow of the Games+Learning+Society (GLS). She also chaired the annual Games, Learning & Society Conference from 2012 to 2017.

Steinkuehler’s keynote will kick off the first day of the Academic Esports Conference & Expo, which will feature more than 50 sessions in five unique learning tracks: Starting Up, Advanced Level, Academic Development, Infrastructure/Technology and Emerging Trends. The Expo Hall at the Hilton Chicago will showcase top esports solution providers and allow attendees to get hands-on and in-depth experience with the technologies and services available.

Registration is open for the event.


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