Valparaiso University Professor Explores Education Through Gaming

Martin Buinicki

Martin Buinicki, Ph.D., professor of English at Valparaiso University has been appointed the next Richard P. Baepler Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. The four-year professorship is a rotating appointment honoring exceptional teachers focused on advancing interdisciplinary and integrative study of the humanities in accord with Valparaiso University’s mission. Professor Buinicki’s term in the role will begin on Aug. 1, 2024. 

“Professor Buinicki is the ideal faculty member to hold the Baepler Chair, Eric Johnson ’87 Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “He is an outstanding scholar who strives to advance the interdisciplinary and integrative study of the humanities through collaboration across campus. Professor Buinicki’s work as the Chair will highlight the ways that the humanities’ strength in storytelling, critical reasoning, art and music are needed in today’s society both in work and play.”

Professor Buinicki’s work will center around integrating games with pedagogy, and the proposed outcomes of his professorship include “increased faculty development and engagement with games pedagogy” along with “original student research and design opportunities.” Other planned projects include research, the development of creative and learning-focused games including “O’ Happy Dagger!” An RPG Adventure, “The Mid-Life Monster Manual” An RPG Parody, “But Does It Rhyme?” A Poetry Game, and “SpellCaster, the Roleplaying Game,” and a scholarly article examining the narrative themes of “Wolfenstein 2: The News Colossus.” 

“I really believe in the power of games in education, regardless of the discipline,” said Professor Buinicki.

Professor Buinicki will be responsible for leading the Wente Faculty Seminar, using his research to promote interdisciplinary teaching, course development and scholarship. His seminar will be titled “The Pedagogy of Play: Games as a Resource and Subject of Study.” 

“I really see this as an opportunity to learn alongside my colleagues,” says Professor Buinicki. “The focus will be on games and pedagogy, and how we can use games in the classroom regardless of our fields. We may even explore designing new games for our courses.”

Professor Buinicki joined the Valparaiso University faculty in 2004. From 2011 to 2020, he was the Walter G. Friedrich Professor of American Literature at Valparaiso University, and he currently holds the Benz Fund Professorship.

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a gift from Dr. Walter H. and Pauline Scaer Wente, the professorship honors the informed vision, academic leadership, and Christian service of Dr. Richard P. Baepler at Valparaiso University from 1954 until his retirement in 1999.