Assistant Professor of Game Studies
Dr. Wendi Sierra is Assistant Professor of Game Studies in the John V. Roach Honors College at TCU. She earned a Ph.D. in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media from North Carolina State University, where her studies focused on games and learning. She also received a Bachelors of Arts in Literature from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters of Arts in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy Studies, also from the University of Oklahoma. Across the course of her academic studies she has remained intrigued by storytelling across multiple modalities, genres, and traditions.
As a researcher, Sierra is interested in how games, both educational and commercial, offer novel learning environments to players. This may be intentional, as Sierra’s ongoing development of A Strong Fire, an NEH-funded Oneida language and culture game, demonstrates. The game, currently under development in collaboration with the Oneida Nation Arts Center and Second Avenue Learning, fuses game design principles, best practices in pedagogy, and Oneida folklore, to create a playful environment for children and parents to come together around learning the Oneida language. Studying and developing explicitly educational games, however, is only one component of exploring games as learning machines. Equally important is considering how all games create communities of practice that can become foundational learning experiences. Sierra’s chapter “Gaming Across the Years: Gotta Catch ‘Em All Together” in The Pokémon Go Phenomenon: Essays on Public Play in Contested Spaces, uses auto-ethnographic methods to explore intergenerational gaming related to the popular mobile app game Pokémon Go.
As a teacher, Sierra brings her interdisciplinary background to the fore, exploring how games specifically, and digital media more broadly, offer interesting objects of study and topics for discussion that can apply to virtually any major or course of studies. In her honors colloquia, Games and Learning, she invites students to consider how key concepts and principles related to good learning and game design, things like, agency, interactivity, nonlinearity, and accomplishment, are applicable in a variety of situations, formal and informal, digital and physical.