Zek Valkyrie, Ph.D.

Zek Valkyrie, Ph.D.

Zek Valkyrie, Ph.D.

Senior Instructor
Department of Sociology
ACAD 413

Zek Valkyrie is a Senior Instructor in the Sociology Department at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs

He is best known for creating assessment structures in his classes using game mechanics, borrowing primarily from the role-playing game genre. For his efforts, UCCS has awarded him with three teaching awards, including the Innovations in Teaching with Technology Award, the LAS Outstanding Instructor Award, and the campus-wide Outstanding Instructor Award.

When not focused on his teaching, he spends most of his time serving as a year-round reviewer for the IRB – a position that provides a notable service to the UCCS research faculty. His own research has recently produced his first academic book titled “Game Worlds Get Real.” The book details how online gaming has become a hyper-rationalized operation, making the reality of everyday life central to framing video game play and limiting the social latitude for gamers to experience digital spaces as uncoupled from identity politics, gender dynamics, and the pulls of consumption culture.

His newer projects have focused on theories of fun and the sociology of emotion. For the former, his interests for the last year have been fixed on lifelong gamers. And for the latter, he has been exploring the population of parents who regret having had children as a crux for the object-emotion paradox.


  • Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder, Sociology
  • M.A. University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Sociology
  • B.A. University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Sociology and Psychology

Courses currently in rotation

  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC 1110) - fall, spring, summer semesters
  • Introduction to Deviance (SOC 2190) - fall semesters
  • Digital Society (SOC 2400) - spring semesters
  • Social Research Methods (SOC 3170) - fall and spring semesters


  • Letters, Arts, and Sciences Student-Faculty Research/Creative Works/Community Service Award, 2017-2018, with undergraduate student Gwen Chambers for “Regretting Parenthood.”
  • Letters, Arts, and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Full-Time Instructor Award, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, 2017.
  • Outstanding Instructor Award, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, 2016.
  • Western Social Science Association President-Elect's New Scholar Award, 2015.
  • Innovations in Teaching with Technology Award, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, 2014.
  • Graduate Instructor of the Year Award, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2011.

Service and committee work

  • Year-Round Reviewer for the Institutional Review Board, 2015-present.
  • Dean’s Instructor Review Committee, Chair, 2015-present.
  • Co-Director of the Ungraduated Program in Sociology, 2015-present.


Game Worlds

Game Worlds Get Real: How Who We Are Online Became Who We Are Offline. Praeger Publishers. Santa Barbara. Found here: http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A5221C

New books

A podcast interview on the New Books Network which covers my book can be found here: http://newbooksnetwork.com/zek-valkyrie-game-worlds-get-real-how-who-we-are-online-became-who-we-are-offline-praeger-2017/

Zek Valkyrie teaches at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. His new book, Game Worlds Get Real: