Zek Valkyrie, Ph.D.

Zek Valkyrie

Zek Valkyrie, Ph.D.

Senior Instructor
Department of Sociology

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 he enjoys thoroughly. In his spare time, his 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.


  • Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder, Sociology, 2011
  • M.A. University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Sociology, 2005
  • B.A. University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Sociology and Psychology, 2004

Courses currently in rotation

  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC 1110) - fall, spring, summer semesters
  • Social Research Methods (SOC 3170/CJ 3100) - fall and spring semesters
  • Digital Society (SOC 2400) - spring semesters (as of 2018)
  • Introduction to Deviance (SOC 2190) - fall semesters (as of 2018)
  • Video Game and Simulation Culture (SOC 4570) - spring semesters in odd numbered years

Courses no longer being offered

  • Deviant Behavior (SOC 4190)
  • Gender and Sexuality (SOC 4040/WEST 4040)
  • Social Statistics (SOC 3170/CJ 3150)
  • Social Research Methods-Online (SOC 3070/CJ 3100-OL)
  • Digital Society-Online (SOC 2400-OL)


  • 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
  • Chair, Dean’s Instructor Review Committee, 2015-present
  • Co-Director of the Undergraduate 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. http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A5221C
  • The Goddess Paradox: Hyper-resonance Shaping Gender Experiences in MMORPGs in Social Exclusion, Power and Video Game Play: New Research in Digital Media and Technology. Edited by David Embrick, Talmadge J. Wright, and Andras Lukacs. Lexington Press. 155-174
  • Cybersexuality in MMORPGs: Virtual Sexual Revolution Untapped. Men and Masculinities.14 (1) 76-96. Reprinted in Sexualities: Identities, Behaviors, and Society. 2nd edition. Edited by Michael Kimmel and the Stony Brook Sexualities Research Group