Ken S. McAllister

About Ken S. McAllister

Ken is a specialist in digital humanities and is Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative (LGI). In addition to studying, teaching with, and building computer games, LGI also maintains the LGI Research Archive, a publicly accessible set of collections dedicated to the preservation and study of computer games and their attendant cultures and paratexts. The LGIRA currently has more than a quarter of a million items, all of which are available to researchers of any age.

Ken's other areas of research include transdisciplinary collaboration, critical technology studies, rhetorical theory, and magic.

Research Interests

computer games, magic, critical technology studies, rhetorics of popular culture, rhetorics of information

Selected Publications


Inside the Video Game Industry: Game Developers Talk About the Business of Play. With Judd Ethan Ruggill, Randall James Nichols, and William Ryan Kaufman. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Tempest: Geometries of Play. With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015.

AZ 100 Indie Film: A State of Arizona Centennial Celebration. With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Tucson: Arizona Media Arts Center, 2013. Print.

Gaming Matters: Art, Science, Magic and the Computer Game Medium. With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 2011.

The Computer Culture Reader. With Judd Ethan Ruggill and Joseph R. Chaney, eds. Newcastle upon Tyne (UK): Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. 321 pages. Print.

Fluency in Play: Computer Game Design for Less Commonly Taught Language Pedagogy. With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Tucson: Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language & Literacy (A National Foreign Language Resource Center), 2008. Print.

Game Work: Language, Power, and Computer Game Culture. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2004. Print.


“Playing to Death.” American Journal of Play (forthcoming 2017). With Maggie Melo and Judd Ethan Ruggill. Print.


“Tempest: Archives/Archiving.” How to Play Video Games. Ed. Matthew Thomas Payne and Nina Huntemann. New York: New York University Press (forthcoming 2017).


“Pushed to the Wall: The Overhead Projector, the Visual, and the Material.” With Josh Zimmerman and Judd Ethan Ruggill. Routledge Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescence. Ed. Mark J. P. Wolf. New York: Routledge (forthcoming 2017).


“‘Is a Man Not Entitled to the Sweat of His Brow?’: Apportioned Commodity Fetishism and the Transformative Power of Game Studies.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill, Tobias Conradi, Steven Conway, Jennifer deWinter, Chris Hanson, Carly Kocurek, Kevin Moberly, Randy Nichols, Rolf F. Nohr, and Marc A. Ouellette. Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives. Ed. Keri Duncan Valentine and Lucas John Jensen. Hershey: IGI Global, 2016. 96-122.


“E(SRB) is for Everyone: Game Ratings and the Practice of Content Evaluation.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Video Game Policy: Production, Distribution, and Consumption. Ed. Jennifer deWinter and Steven Conway. New York: Routledge, 2016. 71-84. Print.


“‘You Really Do Have Brain-Damage, Don’t You?”: Ridicule as Game Mechanic in the Portal Franchise.” With Gregory Grewell and Judd Ethan Ruggill. “The Cake is a Lie”: Polyperspektivische Betrachtungen des Computerspiels am Beispiel von Portal. Ed. Britta Neitzel, Thomas Hensel, and Rolf F. Nohr. Münster/Berlin: Lit-Verlag, 2015. Print.


“Against the Use of Computer Games in the Classroom: The Wickedness of Ludic Pedagogies.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill. The Game Culture Reader. Ed. Jason Thompson and Marc Ouellette. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 86-102. Print.


“Invention, Authorship, and Massively Collaborative Media.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Media Authorship. Ed. Cynthia Chris and David A. Gerstner. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.


“Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three: Quality Assurance and Computer Game Development.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 4.3 (2012): 289­-95. Print.


“Computer Game Archiving and the Serious Work of Silliness.” With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Animation Journal 19 (2011): 67-77. Print.

"'Is He 'Avin a Laugh?': The Importance of Fun to Virtual Play Studies." With Judd Ethan Ruggill. Utopic Dreams and Apocalyptic Fantasies: Playing Virtual Realms. Ed. Talmadge Wright, David Embrick, and Andras Lukacs. Lanham: Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield), 2010. 43-58. Print.


“Digital Game Preservation: Problems and Recommendations.” With Devin Monnens, Andrew Armstrong, Judd Ruggill, Henry Lowood, and Zach Vowell. American Journal of Play 2.2 (2009): 139-66. Print.

Ken S. McAllister's picture

Contact Information

Ken S. McAllister
Professor of Public and Applied Humanities | Associate Dean of Research (Humanities)


Ph.D.: University of Illinois, Chicago (Language, Literacy, and Rhetoric)

M.A.: University of Illinois, Chicago (Creative Writing--Poetry)

B.A.: University of Illinois, Chicago (American Literature)


Courses Taught

  • Rhetorics of Technology
  • Introduction to Critical Technology Studies
  • Seminar on Game and Play Studies
  • Magic, Rhetoric, and Technology
  • The Politics of New Media
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences