Chris Holden

Associate Professor

Dr. Chris Holden is an Associate Professor in the Honors College at UNM. He participates in and studies place-based game design in various contexts, from language learning to community action, in classrooms, museums and community centers. A major goal is to enable and encourage people to make games and other interactive experiences to develop new forms of meaning within their local natural, cultural, and educational environments.

Dr. Holden was once a number theorist (PhD UW-Madison, 2008) but went rogue thanks to the Games+Learning+Society folks also at UW-Madison. He made his first learning games under Kurt Squire in 2006. In 2009, he and Julie Sykes created Mentira, a place-based mobile game curriculum for fourth semester college Spanish. Mentira led to his part in many mobile game design involved language learning projects since, where the idea of indie-design in the space joining place, culture, and language has particularly taken off.  He has also worked with many other investigators to look into the possible connections between place and learning that can be explored through the design of mobile-mediated experiences, including games.

Dr. Holden supports investigations that connect learning, games, mobile technology, and place in several ways: the production and popularization of open tools and strategies, and through collaboration with partners, either locally or via distance. He has helped produce ARIS, an easy-to-use, open source, mobile game platform, since 2009, and grown a diverse and active community around the tool as well. He also produces documentation, writes tutorials, and provides one-to-one support in its use.

At UNM, Dr. Holden supports faculty, students, and community members under the umbrella of the Local Games Lab ABQ. You can check out some of the representative projects there. Some of this support can be found in his courses, but much more is organized outside of formal boundaries. Dr. Holden can be helpful in many aspects of this work: basic technical training in the use of design tools for non-programmers like ARIS, design brainstorming and prototyping, unpacking how digital designs might serve as both diagnostics and creators of learning experiences, bringing strong sociocultural learning principles to bear on the design of learning experiences, combining place and content. Dr. Holden can even provide devices for you to test and use your designs, and advice about the logistical needs of such implementations.

Chris is originally from Albuquerque. He typically teaches courses in Honors about either math or videogames. In both of these areas, his aim is to help students really dig in and get their hands dirty, regardless of prior experience.

Contact Information

Research Interests

Educational Technology
Games and Learning
Mobile Media and Technology
Curriculum and Instruction
Place-based learning
Language Learning
Learning Design
Design Based Research
Math Education